Monday, June 18, 2007

Messages to President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

The following messages are from JINSA, The Jewish Institute for Security Affairs. They contain a dose of reality, urging caution before lavishing the corrupt Palestinian Authority with more gifts. We post them here with the gracious permission of JINSA.

Message to the President as PM Olmert Comes to Washington

[Ed. Note: this is part of a series about the demise of the Palestinian experiment in self-government and the implications for U.S. policy in the region.]

Mr. President, in the interest of the Palestinian people, please withdraw formal American support for an independent Palestinian state. There are people in the region who have staked everything on you and still look to you for moral clarity. Israel and Jordan are the friends of American interests that the Palestinians never wanted to be, and they need your help to undo the damage the notion of an independent Palestine has done.

On 24 June 2002, you offered a creative blueprint for Palestinian nationalism. It was, at least the way you said it, fairly safe for the Israelis and Jordanians who would be most directly affected by it. Yours was an "if-when-then" plan. IF Palestinian leaders created civic space, transparent institutions and consensual government, and "WHEN the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements," THEN the U.S. "will support the creation of a Palestinian state..." You promised, "A Palestinian state will never be created by terror."

But you made the unwarranted assumption that Palestinian leaders WANTED to create a government in service of their people (which exists exactly where in the Arab world?) and further would be satisfied with rump state next to a strong and prosperous Israel.

You were wrong. But instead of calling it off, you - with active Israeli government acquiescence - kept lowering the bar for them. You ignored rampant corruption and offered money and American military training to the corrupt forces of the corrupt Abu Mazen - he should never have been "your guy." To the extent that he was, you were wrong about that too. You ignored Jew-hatred in Palestinian institutions. You knew perfectly well that elections are the last stage of democratic evolution - Natan Sharansky told you so - but you pushed for early elections that included not only corrupt secularist terrorists, but Iranian-sponsored religious terrorists as well. There was no reform, no transparency, and no peace BECAUSE THE PALESTINIANS NEVER WANTED PEACE OR CLEAN GOVERNMENT - THEY WANTED PALESTINE IN THEIR IMAGE, NOT YOURS. They got it.

The bar can't get any lower. The Palestinians failed to meet a single requirement for American diplomatic, security and financial support. Understand it and move on. Gaza is gone but the West Bank remains crucial. Please don't pretend Salam Fayyad can hold Palestine together. Funding and rearming the remnants of Abu Mazen's army only ensures that they lose that battle as well, and it is further punishment of the Palestinian people to condemn them to more Fatah incompetence and brutality.

Please use the visit of Prime Minister Olmert to discuss how to save the West Bank - because Hamastan there threatens not only Israel, but your friends in Jordan as well. The King of Jordan has done everything you could have asked of a small, poor country wedged between Iraq and the West Bank. Israeli and Jordanian security forces have worked in concert to protect both countries. Make it official.

The last, best hope for West Bank Palestinians now is some form of confederation of territory, people and security forces between Israel and Jordan. Talk to Prime Minister Olmert about that.

Message to the Prime Minister in Washington

The pattern of non-state actors filling vacuums left in weak states has created havoc for Israel and for the United States. Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza created terrorist entities on your borders, and chaos in Iraq has allowed Iranian and al-Qaeda-supported forces to undermine the elected government’s ability to provide services and security to the people. You and President Bush must foreclose that possibility on the West Bank even as you deal with the consequences in other theaters.

This is the crisis and it should sidetrack any discussion of Syria.

Surely neither of you believes Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyed can manage security control of the West Bank, even if you continue to funnel arms and money to them. It only ensures that Hamas will continue to fight. Hamas wants it all and has already been enriched by 50,000 rifles and pistols, plus ammunition and thousands of mortars and rocket propelled grenades captured from Fatah in Gaza, according to The Jerusalem Post. Surely neither of you thinks the future stability of the region will be improved if you talk about political horizons and peace processes.

The West Bank has not descended (yet?) into the chaos of Gaza in part because Israeli security services have remained fully engaged and in part because there are still family, business and other connections to Jordan. Jordan and Israel have an equal interest in controlling the land and the people – even though Jordan is reluctant to admit it.

But if Jordan can’t say it, you can, and the President might listen to you if you make the case plain: The US and Israel should agree to formal withdrawal from the failed Oslo Accords with their unsustainable promise of a one-day independent Palestinian State. What is left is Israeli and Jordanian control of the assets, the territory and the people with the promise of the restoration of security, and the civil and human rights subverted and denied under the PA. Smart Palestinians should look upon it as a lifeline.

Mr. Olmert – you wisely decided not to have the IDF involved in the Hamas-Fatah civil war in Gaza. Israel was gone and couldn’t come back. You are, however, in the West Bank. You have to ensure that everyone believes Israel will stay there to defend the interests of the Israeli public, and to work with Jordan – your security partner – to defend the interests of the King as well.

Israel and the US are already being blamed for the war in Gaza by people who blame us for everything. “If only Israel had… If only the US hadn’t…whatever,” they say. It isn’t our fault that the Palestinians threw away the generosity of the world on a combination of venality and international Islamic fervor. However, knowing what we know, to allow Hamas to conquer the West Bank because we couldn’t admit our failures and act on our admission, future disaster will indeed be our fault.

There is a lot to do, but planning for new political conversation with Syria while Gaza burns and the West Bank trembles would be a mistake of enormous proportions.

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