Hamas this week published an interview with one of their operatives recently released from an Israeli prison that once again demonstrates why allowing the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state is a bad idea.
Ahmed Akram Salmi told the official Hamas website that prior to being arrested, he had been part of a cell that was producing rockets and missiles in Samaria (the so-called "West Bank"). The cell established a manufacturing facility near the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah,and intended to launch attacks on high-profile Israeli targets.
"The most obvious rocket targets were the Knesset building, the Ben Gurion Airport and other cities, the most prominent of which was Tel Aviv," said Salmi. The "West Bank" surrounds most of Jerusalem and its western edge sits on the hills overlooking Greater Tel Aviv, putting all of these areas within range of even the least sophisticated terrorist rockets.
Salmi said the rocket program was only thwarted because incessant suicide bombings had resulted in Israel launching a major 2002 military offensive known as Operation Defense Shield.
If Salmi's former aspirations seem far-fetched from a geopolitical point of view, the example of the Gaza Strip proves they remain very realistic, and provide good reason for Israel to view the establishment of a Palestinian state with grave concern.
The thinking of most of Israel's leaders and international power-brokers is that the Palestinian Authority would behave pragmatically and never allow Hamas to carry out such attacks, despite its own distaste for Israel.
But that assessment fails to take two important factors into account:
In anything resembling a democratic setting, the "Arab street" will elect to power the movement that appears strongest and most capable of inflicting damage on perceived enemies. That is why Hamas stunned the world by winning the last Palestinian election so handily. It would likely do so again in a newly-established Palestinian state.
Were Hamas denied the right to exercise its democratically-won powers in a new Palestinian state, it would simply seize control by force of arms, as it did in Gaza, barring, of course, major military intervention by Israel or Western powers, which would be unlikely.
Some will try to counter the above by insisting that being made the head of a real state would force Hamas to behave in a more diplomatic and pragmatic manner. The same failed argument was made when Hamas won its coup in Gaza.
Rather than use the opportunity to demonstrate its state-running capabilities, Hamas transformed Gaza into a major terrorist haven from which an unprecedented number of attacks were launched against Israel. When Hamas itself didn't want bad press, it simply allowed smaller allied terror groups to carry out the attacks.
All the evidence of the past decade suggests that an independent Palestinian state would quickly be either taken over or handed over by the voters to radical Islamic elements that do not accept Israel's existence. Those elements would either carry out or facilitate attacks on Israel that would at best perpetuate the current situation, and at worst escalate hostilities to unprecedented levels.
Given the above, it is hard to see how an independent Palestinian state would benefit anyone outside of those seeking death and destruction.
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