Palestinian side-show perks up

Dr. Norman Bailey

More seems to be going on behind the scenes than Obama and Kerry are aware of.

As everyone knows but pretends not to, the non-existent "peace process" is an insignificant side-show in the Middle East, which is undergoing massive seismic shifts in politico-strategic terms, which along with significant economic developments, which are the only ones that count in the final analysis.

Until now, it has not even been an interesting side-show because of its boring predictability. But now?

Let's see. The former security chief of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mohammed Dahlan, suddenly returns after years of exile in the UAE, accused of being too cooperative with the Israelis and plotting the overthrow of the Abbas regime. He is not arrested and apparently can move about freely. While in exile he of course could meet with Gulf and Saudi officials as well as Israeli agents.

Suddenly rumors abound concerning the possibility of an Abbas resignation (after all, he's in the ninth year of his four-year term) or a dissolution of the PA (how's THAT for a threat?). More or less simultaneously Hamas, which is suffocating in its Gaza enclave, and the PA decide for the fourth time in recent years to "reconcile". Query: Could it be that Hamas wants access to the millions shelled out by the West to the PA since Hamas has lost its sources of income due to Egyptian hostility and Israeli blockade?

Could it be that Abbas needs Hamas to counteract whatever Dahlan (and his backers) have in mind? Could it be that both Hamas and Fatah, which is faced by a report from the European Union auditing authority that much of the aid sent to the PA by the EU in recent years has mysteriously disappeared) need each other now so much that it overrides their hatred for each other?

It undoubtedly will come as a surprise to Messrs. Obama and Kerry that there is more going on both on stage and behind the scenes in the Middle East than they appear to be aware of.

Whatever happens when this witch's brew finally sorts itself out could be very favorable to Israel, if an honest and cooperative government emerges in the West Bank. If it doesn't, not much will change, and that is not so bad an outcome. Then we can all go back to concentrating on the truly important issues.

Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and teaches at the Center for National Security Studies and Geostrategy, University of Haifa.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on April 24, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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