Middle East Times (Editorial)
September 22, 2008 - 8:00pm

The murderous attack in East Jerusalem by a man who deliberately crashed his car into a crowd of pedestrians near Jerusalem's Old City around 11 p.m., Monday night, wounding 19 people before being shot and killed by an off-duty policeman, underlines the urgency in finalizing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

As can be expected, there will be those in Israel, and elsewhere, who will argue that a Palestinian state will only harbor more terrorists who want to cause greater harm to Israel. Those who fear a Palestinian state next door to Israel are not wrong. Indeed, they have every reason to be full of trepidation. Regretfully, there is no shortage of fanatics in the Arab and Muslim world who would jump at the opportunity to kill Israelis. For that reason, those who worry about having a Palestinian state right next door to Israel have all the right to worry.

However, it is worth looking around at Israel's other neighbors only to realize just how wrong are those who fear a strong Palestinian state. Israel is surrounded by Arab countries; Egypt to the southwest, Jordan to the east and southeast, Syria to the northeast, and Lebanon to the north.

Putting Lebanon aside for a moment, (we'll return to it later), when was the last time an Egyptian crossed the border into Israel to commit an act of terrorism? When was the last time a Jordanian made his way across the long border the Hashemite Kingdom shares with Israel to commit a terrorist act? When was the last time a Syrian crossed the demarcation line separating the two countries -- which technically are still at war?

The answer to all the above is: not in recent memory.


Because Egypt, Syria and Jordan have strong central governments, effective security and intelligence services capable of enforcing the peace and securing their borders. Why is it that among the tens of thousands of members of radical Muslim organizations in Egypt, Syria and Jordan, not one has tried to cross the border to carry out attacks inside Israel?

Because is it easier to maintain security in a strong functioning state than in the disarray that exists in the Palestinian territories.

The Syrians, Egyptians and Jordanians know full well that any lapse in their vigilance would have grave consequences, whether they are at peace with Israel, as is the case may be with Egypt and Jordan, or at war, as is the case with Syria.

Unlike the Palestinians who lack the ability to maintain a strong police force, and the territory supposedly under the control of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, is not a state; rather the Palestinian territories consist of a number of enclaves resembling Bantustan, separated by swaths of Israeli inroads; or Lebanon which is a "weak state," where the central government in Beirut has been incapable of controlling large segments of its territory for decades, particularly in the south.

Far from posing a threat to Israel, a strong Palestinian state would rather work in favor of peace. A strong Palestinian state would be able to enforce the rule of law in the country; it would be able to deploy its security forces as needed. There would be an agreed upon limit to the size of the Palestine armed forces so that they could not represent a threat to the security of Israel. A strong Palestinian state would work to the benefit of the Palestinians and of the Israelis. Monday night's victims in Jerusalem should be the last victims.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017