by Elliott Abrams
The chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas (who is also president of the Palestinian Authority), has drafted a letter to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for delivery this week. What is apparently the current state of the draft is published by Times of Israel, a terrific new web site about the Middle East.
This missive is unlikely to advance the cause of peace. What Abbas calls his "historic Peace Proposal" includes, for example, these sentences:
"Security will be guaranteed by a third party accepted by both, to be deployed on the Palestinian side. Jerusalem will serve as a capital of two States. East Jerusalem capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem capital of Israel. Jerusalem as an open city can be the symbol of peace."
Ah, well. Here it seems Abbas is abandoning hope of being able to maintain security in his new state. But surely he knows that Israel has always opposed the presence of third forces that will, as they have in southern Lebanon, never fight terror and will get in the way of Israeli forces trying to do so. And as for Jerusalem, is he seriously proposing that the 1967 line be reestablished, so that Israel is in "West Jerusalem" and "Palestine" controls the Old City? And how can there possibly be an "open city" until Palestinians have achieved the security goal set out for them in the Roadmap (on which Abbas relies in his letter)?
·Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.
·Rebuilt and refocused 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.
With Hamas in control of Gaza and certainly present in the West Bank, just how would an "open city" work? How would Israel prevent terrorists from entering it if there is no border between Israel and the open city of Jerusalem?
The Abbas draft goes on to blame Israel for Abbas's, and the PA's, current situation:
Twenty years ago, we concluded with Israel an agreement under international auspices which was intended to take the Palestinian people from occupation to independence. Now, as a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, social, territorial and security spheres. In other words, the P.A. lost its reason [sic] d’être.
Under this theory, the loss of Gaza to Hamas, the inability of the PA to hold elections since 2006, the weakness of the Fatah Party—you name it—are all the fault of Israel. This is absurd, but so is Abbas's claim that the PA has "no authority." For example, on April 4, 2012, a Committee to Protect Journalists statement "condemns the Palestinian Authority's recent anti-press actions in which one journalist was detained for a week for reporting on alleged corruption and spying and a second was questioned over a critical article and his posts on social media."
Similarly, last year Human Rights Watch reported this: "Security forces of the Palestinian Authority (PA) have arbitrarily detained scores of West Bank journalists since 2009, and in some cases abused them during interrogation in a manner that amounted to torture. Like other Palestinian victims of abuse by the PA’s security services, these journalists confront a virtual wall of impunity when they try to hold their abusers accountable, leaving the victims feeling vulnerable to further harassment and abuse."
All that sounds like quite an assertion of "authority" and "jurisdiction" to me.
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