Latest update: July 1st, 2013
. . . And I say a third thing is, they have to show that they can sustain that for at least some safe period of time, that it isn’t just a statement for the purpose of lulling people into a negotiation. Then we won’t give people false expectations of being able to achieve something. We won’t give the Israeli people false expectations; we won’t give the Palestinian people false expectations; we won’t give the rest of the world false expectations, when the United States will get blamed for why it’s not working.
The reason we have not been able to create a Palestinian state to date is not because of lack of trying by the United States or Israel. It is because of the Palestinians. Clinton got Ehud Barak to agree to every single thing – I think unwisely, actually – that Arafat wanted, and Arafat walked away. The major problem of the Palestinian people is a corrupt, dishonest leadership. Arafat was a murderer and a thief . . .
You can’t negotiate with people like that. This isn’t a matter of being stubborn. . . . [T]here are people that are so dishonest, so dishonorable, that it is counter-productive to talk to them; it’s counter-productive to empower them. It just delays the ability to solve a problem.
It’s like trying to buy a house from somebody who doesn’t own the house. What’s the point of doing it? Maybe you kind of satisfy yourself and others that you are talking to somebody, but you’re never going to buy the house, because the person doesn’t own the house. You keep offering him money for the house, and he keeps agreeing, but then you don’t get the house. It’s just stupid.
When he endorsed the Road Map, Ariel Sharon recognized that peace is produced not by peace agreements, but by conditions on the ground that are conducive to peace. Speaking at the 2003 Herzliya Conference, Sharon emphasized that the sequence of the Road Map steps was as important as the expressed destination, because the sequence was the only way to get there:
The concept behind [the Road Map] is that only security will lead to peace. And in that sequence. Without the achievement of full security within the framework of which terror organizations will be dismantled it will not be possible to achieve genuine peace, a peace for generations. This is the essence of the Road Map.
The opposite perception, according to which the very signing of a peace agreement will produce security out of thin air, has already been tried in the past and failed miserably. And such will be the fate of any other plan which promotes this concept. These plans deceive the public and create false hope. There will be no peace before the eradication of terror. [Emphasis added]
Sharon’s observation was supported by the long experience with the plethora of plans and formal two-state opportunities that previously marked the “peace process,” but that never produced peace.
In the Road Map, all of the relevant parties – Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S., the UN, the EU and Russia – formally agreed to a process that reflected the hard-leaned lessons of the past and the principles Bush had announced in his June 24, 2002 address.
Giuliani’s Foreign Affairs article, and his more extended comments last week in Los Angeles, indicate he has not only learned those lessons and adopted those principles (and indeed applied them in his famous eviction of Yasir Arafat from Lincoln Center in 1995), but that he may in fact understand them better than the current administration.
As it heads toward a November peace conference on final status issues without having insisted on prior compliance with Phase I or II of its own Road Map, the Bush administration could use a dose of Giuliani realism.
About the Author: Rick Richman, whose work has appeared in The New York Sun, The Tower Magazine, and The Jewish Press, among other publications, is a prolific writer who appears regularly in Commentary magazine and its group Contentions blog, where this originally appeared. He also maintains the Jewish Current Issues blog (www.jpundit.typepad.com/jci/).
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