while Israelis now call democratization a precondition for a new peace process, many Palestinians believe it was the Israelis themselves, during years of peacemaking, who encouraged the very repression they're now condemning.
Arafat's Security Courts are widely loathed among Palestinians. The Palestinian Bar Association, along with many local human rights lawyers, boycotts them. And with good reason. Israel and the United States pushed the courts because they provided a way for the Palestinian Authority to jail Hamas militants quickly, without much real evidence or due process. But Arafat quickly expanded their jurisdiction, allowing them to prosecute drug dealers, white-collar criminals, and, most ironically of all, suspected collaborators with Israel.
The essence of this article is the following insight:
, it has often been right-wing Israelis who have voiced uneasiness with this type of justice. Natan Sharansky, Israeli housing minister and erstwhile Russian dissident, warned throughout the Oslo years that it was a mistake to encourage Arafat to suppress basic rights, even if the aim--destroying Hamas--was legitimate. "There was a feeling that if Israel helped make Arafat into a strong leader--a dictator, really--that he could deliver on peace and security," Sharansky says now. "I said from the start that it would backfire." Sharansky's theories on peace and democracy are rooted in the misery of his Soviet experience: A democratic Palestinian leader, he insists, will try to deliver peace in order to win the support of his people. A dictator, by contrast, will make Israel its perennial enemy to deflect attention from his own corruption. "Dictators need enemies to rally their people. That was always the case in the Soviet Union.
had the Palestinians been given a chance to create a democratic system, things moight today be very different. But Arafat and the PA were created in response to Israel's short-term security goals (as are the current "peace plans" being floated by Likud today). This nearsightedness is in the end detrimental to Israel' security in the long term.
Democracies don't fight each other. Thats the central Principle here. The pragmatic solution is therefore to actually implement our rhetoric and cultivate democracy everywhere - in Iran, in Palestine, even in Israel, which is not a democracy with equal rights for all its citizens. The result will be stability and propserity and (pragmatically) national security for us.