Friday, November 25, 2011

IMRA - PA reunification: Israel should focus on the missiles

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Weekly Commentary
24 November '11

Fact: There are huge quantities of weapons in the Gaza Strip both prohibited by the Oslo agreements and utterly inconsistent with the kind of “demilitarized” state a broad consensus of supporters of Palestinian independence around the world have in mind.

Fact: None of the relevant “actors” – Palestinian and foreign – deny the presence of literally hundreds and thousands of various rockets, missiles, etc. in the Gaza Strip. If anything many of the Palestinian and Arab actors are quite proud of the impressive array of weapons deployed today in the Gaza Strip.

Fact: The moment that the West Bank and Gaza Strip reunify, the Palestinian Authority will be directly responsible to respond to the presence of this massive violation of both the agreements with Israel and the demilitarization that the world ostensibly insists on for a Palestinian state.

So far Israeli remarks about reunification have focused on concerns regarding the participation of Hamas in the PA government.

The problem with this approach is that the daily activity of a reunified PA government could be fairly innocuous. After all, the daily activity of a government is generally focused on collecting garbage, handing out parking tickets and dealing with the myriad of other civil matters any governing authority faces.

In the absence of some specific performance benchmarks, the world could easily be lulled into accepting the legitimacy of a reunified PA with Hamas participation.

If Israel raises the weapons issue now as a performance benchmark/litmus test for a reunified PA and presses others in the world to do the same we have a serious chance to get some key players in the world to embrace this requirement.

On the other hand, if Israeli officials only get around to demanding action against the rockets, missiles, etc. after reunification takes place, it will be perceived to be more a “debater’s point” than a serious argument and will be treated as such.

Now is the time for Israel to make clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for these weapons to remain in a Gaza Strip that is under the rule of a body that claims international legitimacy and even seeks recognition as an independent state.

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