As the “road map” process inches forward, there are eerie reminders of the failures of the Oslo “peace process.” Indeed, the work product of the first meeting between Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon and PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen consisted of a lifting of the closure of Palestinian areas, IDF withdrawals from Palestinian cities, freeing of Palestinian detainees,
25,000 work permits for Palestinians, transfer of frozen Palestinian funds, and greater freedom of movement for Palestinian leaders. From the Palestinian side, all that was forthcoming was an observation from Abu Mazen that this was a propitious time for peace. So Israeli concessions in return for empty Palestinian words are once again the order of the day.
And there is more. Notwithstanding President Bush’s insistence on “regime change” in the PA as a condition for American support for a Palestinian state, it has been embarrassingly clear for weeks that Abu Mazen is in the thrall of Yasir Arafat. And Mazen’s first stop after getting those concessions from Mr. Sharon, was Yasir Arafat’s office.
In his June 24th speech last year President Bush said,
…[T]he United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders
engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
Yet, it now appears that the road map will go forward with President Bush’s blessing if Mazen merely secures a “ceasefire” with Hamas and the other terrorist groups, leaving their weapons, infrastructure and capacity to vent their displeasure with what happens at the negotiating table intact.
Even before anyone sat down at a negotiating table, and before Palestinian guns fell silent and terror attempts ceased, Israel was called upon by the road map to abandon its anti-terrorist efforts. Israel had to commit to the uprooting of the “settlements” and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Yet, it is apparently okay with President Bush that Abu Mazen refuses to commit to accepting a “Jewish” state or to the abandonment of the so-called Palestinian right of return which would render the viability of such a state an impossibility.
Although most are trusting of Mr. Bush’s intentions, the President is inviting the Arab world and European powers into the Israel/Palestinian mix despite their collective, shameful anti-Israel history.
So, once again, as was the case throughout the Oslo years, the Palestinians have reason to believe that they can be secure in their recalcitrance and they will have their interlocutors.
We have seen this movie before, and the final scene has not been pleasant. George W. Bush is certainly no Bill Clinton. But we hope that the promise of the President’s firmness in Iraq and uncompromising vision of June 24th will not be squandered by even the best of intentions.
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