Sunday, April 27, 2008

Whine from the West Bank

Somebody ought to tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the success of his so-called negotiations with Israel depends more on his authority than on anybody else's. Abbas said Saturday that he has wide differences with Israel on "final status issues" -- diplomatic code for sovereignty over Jerusalem and whether Palestinians who fled Israel have the right to reclaim their lost property. Of course, the "final status issues" are really a smokescreen for "final solution issues," since the Palestinian Authority has no authority, or intention, to make such an agreement with the Israel. Abbas does not even control all of the territory Israel ceded to the Palestinian Authority -- the extremist Hamas group captured the Gaza Strip from Abbas' forces after Israel gave up the territory. There has been no indication from Ramallah that the Palestinian Authority has any intention of taking it back, which demonstrates Abbas' lack of seriousness as a leader of his people. There is no question about the control of Jerusalem -- that is Israel's capital. Israel agreed way-back-when to share Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority -- a proposal that is as unrealistic as it is unworkable -- but Yasir Arafat turned the deal down. Abbas also considers Israeli settlement activity to be an impediment to peace but, as we have discussed earlier on this very blog, that is a non-issue. If Israel and the Palestinian Authority are going to live side-by-side in the Middle East, the people of both countries are going to be able to freely travel back and forth to trade and visit relatives and historic sites. So, it doesn't matter where they live. If Israel wants to continue building and expanding its settlements on areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority, it will have to accept that some of these "settlers" will be citizens of the new Palestinian country. If the Palestinians were serious about peace, that would not be a dealbreaker, like it is now. If they don't want to live with Jews, then they don't want to live alongside them, either. The Palestinian government is going to have to regain control of its territory and explain to its people the realities of peace in a way they will understand. Otherwise, no deal with Israel will ever be possible or acceptable to ordinary Palestinians.

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