May 19, 2006:
The Palestinians have never been able to create anything resembling effective armed forces. At most, the Palestinians have raised some irregular infantry formations. But now, even that kind of force appears to be slipping from their grasp.
For example, it's quite possible that the stand-off between Fatah and Hamas is not going to be resolved any time soon. This will result in the further erosion of the "authority" of the Palestinian Authority, not to mention increasing deterioration of the infrastructure in the Palestinian Territories, and a worsening of the already abysmal standard of living among Palestinians. The rabble the Palestinians call their "security forces" is already becoming more splintered and troublesome.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians may be taking some blows on other fronts as well. Lebanon, has recently announced plans to disarm the 400,000 Palestinians in the country (many of whom are now second- and even third-generation "refugees," and have never actually been in Palestine). This has been followed by a decision to invest in resettlement of many of the Palestinians, which may indicate a very belated attempt to initiate their assimilation.
In addition, Jordan has begun putting pressure on Hamas. The Government of Jordan has quietly informed Hamas that it will not entertain any negotiations or meetings with its leaders until the organization identifies its secret arms depositories on Jordanian soil. In addition, Jordan, which, under agreement with Israel, controls the assignment of imams and other officials to mosques in Jerusalem, has apparently been "purging" personnel who are found to have ties with Hamas.
Jordan disarmed it's Palestinians in 1971, and forced the Palestinian Liberation Organization into Lebanon. There, the Palestinians were, by 1975, instrumental is triggering a 15 year civil war. The Lebanese never forgave the Palestinians for that.
Restoring the Palestinians as the rulers of "Palestine" (Israel and the Palestinian territories) has been a linchpin of Arab politics since the late 1940s. But neither the Palestinians, nor all the armed might of the Arab nations, have been able to dislodge the Israelis. The latest round of the "war" between Palestinians and Israelis involved the use of terrorism. The Israelis defeated that as well. If the Palestinians can't raise a force capable of doing the job, then other Arab nations, without saying as much, are finally giving in and absorbing Palestinian refugee populations.
Many Palestinians, and other Arabs, believe the Israelis are, like the 11th century Crusaders, a foreign presence. But the Israelis point out that they are locals who have returned after a long exile. And about 40 percent of Israelis are a Jews who fled (often expelled) from other Arab nations in the 1950s. These Israelis are genetically, and in appearance, as "Arab" as the Palestinians. It took several centuries to get rid of the Crusaders, and the Israelis have no plans for leaving, or getting pushed out.
Without any effective armed forces, and a dismal track record, the Palestinians themselves are headed for extinction, being absorbed and ignored because they could not fight their own fights.