Speaking with State Department personnel on Monday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave form to the Palestinian state that now stands at the center of American Middle East policy. "The Israelis," she said, "were going to have to recognize that there was going to have to be land for – contiguous land for the Palestinian state to exist on."
Contiguous land? Well, how can there be contiguity between Judea and Samaria on the east and the Gaza Strip on the west unless Israel is split in two? It's simple geography. Either Israel will separate two sections of the Palestinian state or the Palestinian state will divide Israel in two. And now we know where America stands on the issue.
The contiguity statement also bodes ill for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. After all, Israel's control of Jerusalem cuts off the Hebron and Bethlehem areas from Ramallah. And Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley would cut Jericho off from the rest of the Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria.
The most amazing aspect of Rice's statement is that it was made before Israel and the Palestinians have even begun to negotiate. Then again, since the so-called road map is the only plan in town, we already know that America has joined Europe, the UN, Yossi Beilin and Vice Premier Shimon Peres in believing that at the end of the day, Israel will enable the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. That state will share borders with Egypt and Jordan (and after Israel gives the Golan Heights to Syria, with Syria); will encompass all of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip; and will have its capital in Jerusalem. In addition, there will be foreign troops in the areas to prevent Israel from defending itself.
On Tuesday, Rice made clear that now that America has joined the bandwagon of those calling for Israel's disembowelment, it should be able to patch up its relations with the EU. In her words, "This great alliance that has faced very grave threats now faces really remarkable opportunities in the world." The first opportunity she mentioned was "the opportunity to support the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to try and find a two-state solution."
It is odd that the US, in trying to patch up its relations with Europe, has preferred to give in to Europe's Palestinian fetish over say, building on common interests. As Robin Shepherd from the Center for International and Strategic Studies wrote in The Washington Post last week, the core of Europe's rift with America is Europe's emotional and irrational antipathy for Israel. And, as he warned, "Americans should now be aware that on one crucial issue, at least [i.e., Israel], it is Europe, and not America, that needs to clean up its act."
All the same, it is hard to feel too betrayed by America when the charge to strengthen Palestinian terrorists at the expense of Israel's national security is being led today – just as it was in 1993 – by the Israeli government.
Thursday, the "security cabinet" – stacked with security geniuses like Shimon "Arafat's Great" Peres and Haim "Israel is Bad" Ramon – decided to release 900 Palestinian terrorists from prison. This is just the latest of the Israeli payoffs to the "democratically" elected PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
And what has Abbas done to deserve such largesse? He has purportedly reached an agreement with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah that involves these terrorist groups temporarily ceasing their attacks. (This is probably news to the residents of Gush Katif who had 15 mortars and rockets lobbed at them over the past few days.) During this temporary cessation of terrorist attacks, the terrorists will not be disarmed. If they desire, Abbas told a Russian newspaper this week, they can be integrated into the Palestinian security services.
Those would be the same security services to which Russia pledged to donate helicopters; to which Turkey has asked to donate uniforms and guns; which Rice says America will train; and which President Bush wishes to finance.
And, if terrorists are dissatisfied with the pace of Israeli withdrawals or other appeasement measures, Abbas promised them that they can always go back to murdering Israelis.
In addition to his mollification of terrorists, Abbas announced a ban on illegal weapons. That would seem a promising move, except that his announcement has no enforcement mechanism, is directed against "criminal elements," and makes no mention whatsoever of gun-toting terrorists.
Abbas has also deployed PA militias in Gaza. But these forces have been given strict orders to take no action against terrorists.
As to reform of Palestinian institutions, in one of his first "law enforcement" actions, Abbas instructed the PA's mufti to speed up the process of executing the 51 Palestinians who have been sentenced to death by Palestinian "courts." At least seven of those 51 were convicted of the capital crime of "collaborating" with Israel.
Then there is the question of economic transparency, which the US demands Abbas shore up. In an interesting move on this score, one of the first "economic" issues that the Palestinians raised this week was their demand to reopen the casino in Jericho. That particular edifice is the concrete manifestation of everything that is corrupt about the PA and about the "peace process" itself. Jibril Rajoub, Muhammad Rashid and Abbas have all been investors in the casino. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's adviser, Dov Weisglass, represents casino shareholders. And the late Yossi Ginnosar, who set up meetings between Omri Sharon and Yasser Arafat back when Sharon first came into office four years ago, was both a member of the Board of Directors of the Peres Peace Center and an investor in the casino. Indeed, Omri's first meeting with PA officials took place in Vienna, in the presence of Weisglass at the offices of Martin Schlaf, the casino's main stockholder during Sharon's election campaign in 2001.
Perhaps most indicative of Abbas's intentions is his acceptance of Iran's invitation to conduct a state visit. This willingness to truck with global terrorists who are pursuing nuclear weapons aligns nicely with Abbas's visits to Syria and Lebanon, where he was mollycoddled by dictators and terror masters while campaigning for the office he won in a largely uncontested, highly corrupt election.
It stands, of course, to reason – in the Orwellian world that so characterizes Israel when it is peace-drunk – that our leaders would look at all that Abbas has done and say, "Wonderful, let's give this guy a state!" So here we are. Our army has been ordered not to protect us, because the Palestinians will do that for us now. PA security forces will now be deployed in Judea and Samaria, as well as in Gaza. Wanted Palestinian terrorists – mass murderers – are free to go back to their homes. Israel won't harm them. Palestinian terrorists whom Israel caught and imprisoned will now be released on their own recognizance.
It's all in the interest of peace, after all, and we can rest assured that they won't return to killing, because they will all be required to sign declarations promising not to be terrorists anymore. That's crucial. Let's not forget that the terrorists who carried out the bombings in Cafe Hillel and outside Tzrifin military base in September 2003 signed precisely such declarations before they were released as part of a confidence-building gesture to Abbas.
In addition to rushing to embrace Abbas, Israel is doing everything it can to shore up Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in the hope that he will protect us after we run away from Gaza. Crowned with legitimacy as
a peacemaker after he and his security chief, Omar Suleiman, have spent the better part of two weeks getting Hamas and Islamic Jihad to agree to… absolutely nothing – according to Hamas chieftain Khaled Mashal – Mubarak next Tuesday will host a peace party in Sharm e-Sheikh, where peace-drunk Israeli politicians and media flacks will gush, and Palestinians will demand that Israel take down the security fence and the roadblocks and release still more murderers from jail in order to give them confidence to make "hard steps" toward peace sometime later on down the line.
In the meantime, because of his vital role in the "peace process," Mubarak can safely assume that he will receive no flak from America for having imprisoned Ayman Nur, the leader of the only opposition party trying to challenge his one-party rule in Egypt. King Abdullah, too, can be sure he will pay no price for trying to prevent Iraq from becoming a democracy.
And herein lies the greatest irony of the peace process. American supporters of both Bush and Israel are now backing Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and northern Samaria and Bush's plan for Palestinian statehood, claiming the world has changed since Oslo. They promise that Bush is going to cause a democratic revolution in the Arab world that will change the entire strategic balance in Israel's favor.
What they don't seem to remember is that the world had also changed after the fall of the Soviet Union and the 1991 Gulf War. Then, as now, there was an expectation that the Arabs would be forced to change the way they treated Israel and America. Then, as now, the reactionary forces in the region were saved by one thing – the peace process with Israel.
Back in 1992 at Madrid and in 1993 at Oslo, the Arabs learned that the way to ensure the longevity of their authoritarian, terror-supporting and jihad-engendering regimes is by attacking Israel with olive branches. These earn them legitimacy from the Jewish state and gratitude from the White House. Since peacemakers are of course indispensable, all thought of democracy must be put aside in the furtherance of a greater good.
So, here we are again, at the dawn of a new peace process which will bring no peace; will legitimize terrorists and the authoritarian regimes that support them; will weaken Israel's democratic institutions while endangering its citizenry; and will engender scorn for America and faith in Israel's eventual destruction in the hearts of millions of people who today waver between support for freedom and support for terror.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.