NYT: Lets Fight over a Big Plan

The strategy of Fayyad — and his boss, President Mahmoud Abbas — is gaining momentum and is in “direct conflict with the network of resistance: Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,” said Gidi Grinstein, the president of the Reut Institute, one of the premier Israeli policy research centers.

Underlying the latest U.S.-Israel spat over settlements is the deeper - real - problem: There are five key actors in the Israeli-Palestinian equation today. Two of them - the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the alliance of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah - have clear strategies. These two are actually opposed, but one of them will shape Israeli-Palestinian relations in the coming years; indeed, their showdown is nearing. I hope Fayyad wins. It would be good for Israel, America and the moderate Arabs. But those three need their own strategy to make it happen.

Fayyad is the most interesting new force on the Arab political stage. A former World Bank economist, he is pursuing the exact opposite strategy from Yasir Arafat. Arafat espoused a blend of violence and politics; his plan was to first gain international recognition for a Palestinian state and then build its institutions. Fayyad calls for the opposite - for a nonviolent struggle, for building noncorrupt transparent institutions and effective police and paramilitary units, which even the Israeli Army says are doing a good job; and then, once they are all up and running, declare a Palestinian state in the West Bank by 2011.

The strategy of Fayyad - and his boss, President Mahmoud Abbas - is gaining momentum and is in "direct conflict with the network of resistance: Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas," said Gidi Grinstein, the president of the Reut Institute, one of the premier Israeli policy research centers.

Iran's strategy, explains Grinstein, is simple: Destroy Israel through a combination of asymmetric warfare - like Hezbollah's war from South Lebanon and Hamas's from Gaza; delegitimize Israel by accusing it of war crimes when it combats Hamas and Hezbollah, who fight while nested among civilians; "religiousize" the conflict by making it Muslims versus Jews, focusing on symbols like Jerusalem; and, finally, suck Israel into "imperial overstretch," e.g., keep Israel occupying the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, which Iran & Co. believe will lead to "Israel's implosion."

Therefore, today, Fayyadism, which aims to replace the Israeli occupation of the West Bank with an independent Palestinian state, is the biggest threat to Iran's strategy. So the smart thing right now would be for the other three parties to have a clear strategy to back Fayyadism. If only. ...

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