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Kerry Plan May Put Al Qaeda in the West Bank

11:08 AM, Feb 12, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
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Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas told Thomas Friedman that he’d be willing to accept a NATO presence on the West Bank after an Israeli withdrawal. Netanyahu insists there’s no way that’s ever going to happen—Israelis trust only its military to keep Israel safe. Naturally, Kerry sees an impasse as an opportunity. A possible third-party force, he told Ignatius, “is something for the parties to work out.”

Unfortunately, the most likely candidate for that third-party force right now is al Qaeda.

The Palestinian refugees most likely to settle in the West Bank, as Steven J. Rosen explained in FP.com, “are the legions who are kept wretched in Syria and Lebanon.” “Worst of all,” writes Rosen, “the refugees most likely to come are the ones who have decades of membership and training in the competing terrorist organizations that proliferate in the Palestinian camps in Syria and Lebanon”—several of them with ties to al Qaeda.

The Obama administration has long perceived al Qaeda to be its primary security concern in the Middle East. According to the American intelligence community, an al Qaeda haven in Syria that would dispatch jihadists to wage attacks on the American homeland constitutes the greatest threat to American national security. Accordingly, the Obama administration has refused to arm the Syrian rebels for fear of putting serious American weapons in the hands of American adversaries. Indeed, just last week Kerry himself reportedly spoke of creating an anti-al Qaeda Syrian coalition—presumably composed of the Assad regime and allied forces fighting alongside moderate anti-Assad rebel units.

Israel is also concerned by the growing al Qaeda presence in Syria. Salafist jihadists on the Golan border is one thing, but the same forces within easy range of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport constitute a problem different not in degree but in kind. An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would leave Abbas and PA security forces vulnerable to an al Qaeda onslaught and destabilize Jordan by turning it into a Salafist transit route for anyone who wants to take a shot at Israel’s center.

The deal Kerry is brokering is not for an independent Palestinian state but for a failed state, dead on arrival.  Contrary to what Kerry may profess, the status quo is not only sustainable, but for Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan it’s also preferable to al Qaeda on the West Bank.

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