by Barry Rubin
Should the Palestinian Authority (PA) be the main advocate pushing acceptance of the bizarre Goldstone report in order to demonize Israel at the UN or might it just stand aside and let a couple of dozen Arab and Muslim-majority states take the lead?
This is—or should be—a minor issue but it has blown up to once again push the main reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict into everyone's face.
On the surface, the Palestinian leadership—PLO, Fatah, and Palestinian Authority (PA), which are all the same thing—is once again shooting itself in the foot. It is throwing away a real opportunity for a state; it is sabotaging its relationship with Western patrons.
How to explain this apparent perverseness, which Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban once called, "Never missing a chance to miss an opportunity"?
The answer is simple: When it comes down to a choice between continuing the conflict and trying to win a total victory that wipes Israel off the map or making peace and getting a state, the Palestinian leadership always chooses the former.
And when it comes to choosing between being a bit more moderate and gaining Western support or being demagogically radical and appealing to the most radical forces, the Palestinian leadership chooses the latter. The Fatah-dominated PA doesn't want peace with
Wishful thinkers beware! Reality is once again battering down your door.
Briefly, the Obama Administration is trying to make peace and wants the PA's cooperation. If the UN goes ballistic and now bashes
So the Obama Administration basically said to the PA: Look, we're getting you lots of money and diplomatic help on the basis of the idea that you want peace. No president in history has ever been more sympathetic and supportive of you. So stand aside on this issue for a few days. Do us this little favor.
But this is too much for the PA, which now faces protests and criticism at home. (Fun fact: If the PA cannot even refrain from sponsoring Goldstone, can anyone expect it to compromise on territory, security measures, an end to the conflict, and the settlement of all Palestinian refugees in
This is at least the fourth time in its short nine-month history where the Palestinians and Arab states did this to Obama:
--PA leader Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Washington for his first trip and said he had no intention of compromising on anything but would just wait until the United States delivered an Israel which had to give up everything.
--Abbas refused to negotiate with
--Arab states asked to make small confidence-building steps toward
So much for Obama's apologies, his
Can you get it, Mr. President: All this merely feeds the fires of radicalism. Like, in a real sense, the peace process of the 1990s and the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, more concessions breed more violence; more apologies give birth to more demands.
Remember that the peace process of the 1990s ended when PA leader Yasir Arafat refused a state along with more than $23 billion in aid both at Camp David and in the
Remember that the Palestinians, handed all of the Gaza Strip, instead of making it a model for launching peace made it a launching pad for rockets aimed at
Remember that when the previous Bush Administration was trying to be supportive, the PA made a deal through Hizballah with
Remember that in 1989 when the
Wake up, people. Peace would be preferable if possible. Peace is a beautiful dream. But that dream keeps getting interrupted by nightmares, one after the other.
Those who run nations and are responsible for the lives and welfare of their people, those whose duty is to inform the people, and those who speak out publicly have a duty to cast aside wishful thinking and face the truth, as demonstrated by numerous examples and historical experience:
--Israeli-Palestinian peace is still very distant.
--The PA is unwilling and incapable of making peace.
--Weakness in dealing with this issue breeds contempt; concessions create more violence and extremism.
--A responsible policy is one that maximizes stability by keeping Hamas from taking over the West Bank and brings down its rule in the Gaza Strip; minimizes violence by supporting Israel's right to self-defense; and does the most possible to raise the living standards of Palestinians.
As for Obama and the European leaders, you've had the experience now learn the lessons.
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