BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 2.155, September 19, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Palestinian cheers over the “victory of the Afghan Mujahedin over the American crusaders” give the impression that they believe the Taliban are a worthy model to follow in eliminating “the Zionist occupation”. However, a ruined Lebanon, a Gaza Strip plagued by poverty and unemployment, and Afghanistan itself, now under Taliban rule, do not indicate the success of the Islamic model. What the Palestinians need is not a new model of “armed struggle” but a reconciliation with the existence of Israel while struggling for a lasting peace settlement that will ensure security, prosperity. and respect for mutual rights.
In May 2000, following massive pressure from left-wing organizations and after failing to reach an agreement with Syria and Hezbollah, Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the hasty withdrawal of the IDF from southern Lebanon. Israel’s local ally, the Army of South Lebanon, which had cost millions of dollars to build and maintain, collapsed and was unable to stand up to Hezbollah. Eighteen years of Israeli military presence ended in a frightened and confused retreat.
These events strongly influenced the leader of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat (as well as the other Palestinian terrorist organizations), who saw in them the confirmation of the mukwama (the resistance) believes that only a determined “armed struggle” (ie terrorism) could lead to achievements against Israel. Barak had no chance of reaching an agreement with Arafat, and the Camp David conference of July 2000, mediated by President Clinton, ended in shambles. It was followed two months later by the outbreak of a four-year terrorist war (euphemistically referred to as the “Intifada al-Aqsa”). The lessons of the flight from Lebanon were perfectly clear to the Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The events of recent weeks in Afghanistan strongly resemble Israel’s exit from Lebanon. The extremist Islamist Taliban regime, which supported and protected al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden at the time of the 9/11 attacks and has not changed its position since, has regained control of Afghanistan, ISIS marking the withdrawal the United States. in a series of bloody terrorist attacks.
According to Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’s political bureau, once Israel has completely evacuated the entire West Bank, Hamas will take it back and establish a Palestinian Islamic state there. According to him, Israeli settlements in the West Bank are the main obstacle to the creation of such a state, as they could lead to the annexation by Israel of the region or large parts of it. This would grant Israel permanent borders, cut the Gaza Strip off from the West Bank, and divide the Palestinian people.
If Israel is to survive, it must recognize Hamas’s aspirations and strengthen its towns and villages in the West Bank. They are the main factor that can prevent a possible humiliating withdrawal like those from Lebanon and Afghanistan.
Palestinians applaud the “Afghans mujahideen victory over the American crusaders âsuggest that in their opinion the Taliban model is the one to emulate if they want to finally eliminateâ the Zionist occupation âafter decades ofâ armed struggle â. However, the crumbling state of Lebanon, the poverty and unemployment plaguing the Gaza Strip, and the Taliban’s instant setback to Westernization reforms in Afghanistan do not indicate that the Islamic model is a success. What the Palestinians need is not a new model of “armed struggle” but a reconciliation with the existence of Israel while struggling for a lasting peace settlement that will ensure security, prosperity. and respect for mutual rights.
Colonel (res.) Dr Shaul Bartal is an associate researcher To the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.