Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If At First They Refuse, Give In

Once again, that's the counterproductive message our government has given.

At a news conference with Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said:
The real breakthrough, it was actually a few months ago now, is that for a long time, if you remember, the argument was you couldn't talk about the Palestinian state or core issues, which was in phase three, until you had completed phase one, which got us into an extended kind of circular problem for a long time about phase one. Well, that -- now we've broken through and they are, indeed, talking about phase -- what's in phase three, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state.
She is ignoring the heart of the road map, the insistence that it was performance based: "The following is a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet [the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia]."

For four years, the Palestinian Authority has refused to implement its most important obligation, required in Phase I: "Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."

The so-called "moderate" Abu Mazen repeatedly insisted he would not take those required actions. This was a crucial factor in the rise of Hamas and the coup that split the Palestinian Authority into two de facto states. (It is ironic how, time and time again, leaders of the Palestinian Arabs act against their own best interests.)

If there was anything about the road map that could have led to positive developments despite its artificial balance, rewarding past Arab perfidy by calling for additional Israeli concessions to balance the requirements for the Arabs to begin adhering to some of the provisions of the Oslo Agreements, which they had been violating with impunity, it was the insistence on performance, the insistence that no phase would be bypassed.

Secretary of State Rice now calls the abandonment of that one saving grace of the road map as a breakthrough. It's really a breakdown.

In the same press conference, Mahmoud Abbas completely distorts the already unfair obligations the road map places on Israel, as well as making additional demands:
I would like to indicate that the Israeli Government's obligations and commitments for the first phase include freezing of settlement activities, including the natural growth, as well as removal and dismantling of settlements that were (inaudible) in 2001, as well as opening the institutions that were closed in Jerusalem and to return to the situation prior to the 28th of September 2000, and stop aggressions and the destruction of properties and everything that would undermine the confidence between the two parties. And we also demanded for the release of the prisoners and we would also -- should not forget the many checkpoints that are still there in the West Bank that need to be removed.
The one-sided restrictions on Israel communities in the disputed territories is the most outrageous aspect of the road map, but Abbas goes beyond even that to demand Israel permit the Palestinian Authority to resume operating illegally in Israel's capital (in violation of the Oslo Agreements), release terrorists (so they can resume murdering Israeli civilians) and generally stop defending itself against Arab terrorism.

As long as we keep repeating the mistake of appeasing Arab intransigence, the prospects for peace will keep growing dimmer.

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