Ephraim Karsh just wrote a very scholarly article in support of the claim that “Palestinian Leaders Don’t Want an Independent State ” which was published in MEForum’s Middle East Quarterly
For nearly a century, Palestinian leaders have missed no opportunity to impede the development of Palestinian civil society and the attainment of Palestinian statehood. Had Hajj Amin Husseini chosen to lead his constituents to peace and reconciliation with their Jewish neighbors, the Palestinians would have had their independent state over a substantial part of mandate Palestine by 1948, if not a decade earlier, and would have been spared the traumatic experience of dispersal and exile. Had Arafat set the PLO from the start on the path to peace and reconciliation instead of turning it into one of the most murderous and corrupt terrorist organizations in modern times, a Palestinian state could have been established in the late 1960s or the early 1970s; in 1979, as a corollary to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty; by May 1999, as part of the Oslo process; or at the very latest, with the Camp David summit of July 2000. Had Abbas abandoned his predecessors’ rejectionist path, a Palestinian state could have been established after the Annapolis summit of November 2007, or during President Obama’s first term after Benjamin Netanyahu broke with the longstanding Likud precept by publicly accepting in June 2009 the two-state solution and agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
But then, the attainment of statehood would have shattered Palestinian leaders’ pan-Arab and Islamist delusions, not to mention the kleptocratic paradise established on the backs of their long suffering subjects. It would have transformed the Palestinians in one fell swoop from the world’s ultimate victim into an ordinary (and most likely failing) nation-state thus terminating decades of unprecedented international indulgence. It would have also driven the final nail in the PLO’s false pretense to be “the sole representative of the Palestinian people” (already dealt a devastating blow by Hamas’s 2006 electoral rout) and would have forced any governing authority to abide, for the first time in Palestinian history, by the principles of accountability and transparency. Small wonder, therefore, that whenever confronted with an international or Israeli offer of statehood, Palestinian leaders would never take “yes” for an answer.
Efraim Karsh, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King’s College London and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University where he is also a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies. This article is part of a wider study prepared under the auspices of the BESA Center.