Thursday, November 15, 2007
And speaking of the Post, David Ignatius this morning has a column that marvelously (if unintentionally) illustrates the upside-down thinking behind the misnamed Middle East peace process.
Here's a safe prediction in advance of the Annapolis peace conference scheduled to take place in a few weeks: The Palestinians won't be ready to fulfill their obligation to provide security in the West Bank under the "road map to peace." The Palestinian Authority simply doesn't have the people, the training or the equipment to maintain order in the territories. Why is this so? The answer, in part, is that the Palestinians haven't built up their security forces because the Israelis haven't permitted them to do so.
They haven't? How mean! Gosh, what on earth could the Israelis be thinking?
The short answer, as Ignatius must know, is that the Israelis are thinking that those Palestinian security forces were "built up" in the 1990s - and then promptly turned their guns on the Israelis who had helped do the building, first in a short sharp skirmish in 1996, and then in the prolonged war launched by Yasser Arafat in the fall of 2000. The Palestinians lost, their forces were degraded, and now the Palestinian areas have collapsed into civil strife.
The thinking behind the "peace process" was drawn from child psychology: Respond to the Palestinians as if they had made a decision in favor of peace - and a decision in favor of peace would surely follow. It was not a completely crazy theory, but it has been given an extensive real-world test, and has proven utterly false.
The reality is that if the Israelis give the Palestinian security forcees weapons, those weapons will almost immediately be turned against the Israelis. So, naturally, they are reluctant to do it.
Condoleezza Rice is determined to give the failed child-psychology approach to peace one more try. We are all still waiting to hear what reason she has for believing it will work better this time.
Hey, here's a wild suggestion: What if we tried the other way around? What if we said to the Palestinians - OK, you want the benefits of peace? A state, a well-paid civil service supported by lavish foreign aid, jobs at the United Nations for the nephews of your president for life? Great. Make peace. Your soldiers want to be trusted? Great. First let them show themselves trustworthy.
The Oslo process left the hardest part - Palestinian acceptance of Israel - for last. Unfortunately, this hardest is the most indispensable part. The next process should begin where Oslo was headed: with an unambiguous statement by the Palestinian authorities renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel as a Jewish state. On that basis, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is - and Annapolis will be, as it is already showing itself, an utter waste of time, energy, and American credibility.
11/15 09:21 AM