World News and Trends: The Palestinian people: poorly prepared for statehood

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The Palestinian people: poorly prepared for statehood

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The presence of Hamas and Fatah, dangerous terrorist groups attached to the PA, is enormously hurtful to the ordinary citizen's life.

Middle East Forum director Efraim Karsh, professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, observed, "Following statehood [were it achieved], even if [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas were to make a genuine commitment to reform, Hamas would continue to defy his tenuous authority; not only does the group rule the Gaza Strip, which it has transformed into an Islamist micro-state, but it also wields considerable power in the West Bank" ("There Is No Palestinian State," Middle East Forum, Sept. 16, 2011).

Hamas actually opposes the statehood effort because it fears that a Palestinian state will ultimately have to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. Moreover, the late PA leader Yasser Arafat acknowledged that his people "lacked the traditions, unity and discipline to have a successful state" (ibid.).

Two thirds of those who would be part of a new Palestinian state believe that Abbas' unilateral appeal for statehood would not have a positive effect on their own status. A report in USA Today showed that "Arab residents of Israel [were] split on being part of a new state" (Michele Chabin, "Mixed Feelings in East Jerusalem," Sept. 21, 2011). Those who enjoy Israeli social benefits with freedom to travel across Israel's pre-1967 borders would generally prefer citizenship in Israel to citizenship in a new state.

Paradoxically, it was during Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank—before Arafat assumed control in 1993—that the Arabs living in those areas made substantial economic progress and markedly improved the quality of their lives. At that time the Palestinian Civil Authority presided over the fourth-fastest-growing economy on the globe. Life expectancy improved considerably, and infant mortality declined remarkably. Sadly, after 1993 Palestinian leaders soon seriously undermined these positive trends.

According to Karsh, the prospects following the coveted statehood would be "increased conflict with Israel and a deepening rift in an already divided Palestinian society." (Sources: Middle East Forum, USA Today.)