Earlier warnings that the U.S. and its allies were building a Frankenstein in the PA — here and here, for instance — have gone unheeded. One wonders if, in the wake of the Egyptian upheaval and the general instability sweeping the region, the problems will get more focus.
After all, certain parallels between the Egyptian and Palestinian cases are striking. In both, Israel ceded land in return for peace agreements of sorts (the full-fledged Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979; the more provisional Oslo Accords of 1993). In both, the U.S. built up military/security forces on the Arab side as a quid pro quo for committing to peace.
In both cases, popular discontent in the respective Arab entities has been discounted — with recent dramatic consequences in Egypt’s case. And in both, Islamist movements wait in the wings — the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, its offspring Hamas among the Palestinians — to take the spoils of the disorder and failed hopes.
Bedein recommends that “the United States and the European Union […] conduct a major review of [the PA] security forces” and that “Western donors […] link future aid to [those] forces to a significant improvement in human rights.” Beyond those specific suggestions, the possible breakdown of Israel’s peace with Egypt, and the turmoil in the region generally, offer a good moment to ask some basic questions:
Does the West understand the Middle East well enough, and can it influence what happens in it sufficiently, that it should be building an armed statelet between Israel and Jordan despite the clear dangers this poses?
And might it be time to rethink the assumption that stable, democratic Israel and its unstable, authoritarian neighbors have the same values and aspirations, and are a perfect match for each other in “peace”?