Zubeida, Mahdi, Hamas and Altalena

Apr 20, 2008 Published under Gaza, Iran, Leadership, Middle East, OneVoice Movement

A couple years back, a comment that was making the rounds among Israeli policy-makers was that "Palestinians need to have their own Altalena."

Altalena was a boat that David Ben Gurion decided to sink, even though it carried weapons (and a Jewish crew) destined for a Jewish group that was resisting the British.  It was a painful decision but one that clearly set the stage for Israel to be a nation under one army, disbanding all resistance and guerrilla groups and gangs that existed around the period of its founding.

Palestinians, it was being argued, are destroying themselves by permitting Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and even Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to each brandish weapons and build its own militia.

After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Israelis gave up talking about Altalena.

And yet, while things are indeed grave with the Gaza debacle, what has not been sufficiently noticed or lauded across the world has been the resolve by Prime Minister Fayyad and President Abbas to dismantle militia groups across the West Bank – the area they still control.

This article about Zakariya Zubeida confirms their efforts are paying off, at least for now.  His chagrin should be the pride of Palestinian civil society – assuming the Israeli and Palestinian Heads of State make concrete progress towards a two state solution – including through a two state agreement this year.

Similarly, the courage from Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki seems to be underreported.  He is confronting the Mahdi army and may be set on truly dismantling all alternative guerrillas. What is remarkable about this confrontation is that the Mahdi army is Shiite like the Iraqi Prime Minister.  He is not just disbanding Sunni vigilantes and Al-Qaeda sympathizers.  He recognizes that for a nation to function, it can only have one army.

Not doing so can spell the type of tragedy that Lebanon has witnessed – with Hezbollah building a state-within-a-state, refusing to disband its army, arguing its is an army to liberate Lebanon from the Israelis, even though even the United Nations has certified that Israel fully evacuated from Lebanon 8 years ago.

The disturbing common denominator of destabilization behind almost all of the above militia groups is Iran: it funds Hamas and Islamic Jihad; it funds (and created) Hezbollah; and it funds the Mahdi Army.

Perhaps late, but hopefully not too late: apparently having an "Altalena" is an important rite of passage in the building of a credible nation under the rule of law.

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  1. BIG Development: Zakariya Zubeidi granted full amnesty by Shin Bet | Daniel Lubetzky said:

    [...] is a major milestone to a significantly underreported transformation of Jenin from a hotbed of extremism into a pillar of progress, thanks to progress by Prime Minister Fayyad [...]

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