THE SPINE MAY 29, 2009
Who said this?
Mahmoud Abbas, The Putative President of Putative Palestine. Then what's the rush? And what's the panic? The negotiations that President Obama is trying to broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is really and mostly about the West Bank. Gaza is completely removed from the equation because it is in the bloody hands of Hamas which the Israelis justifiably won't touch and even this extra-conciliatory administration doesn't have the heart to push. Maybe Pakistan will make a sort of peace with the Taliban. But don't get any ideas about Israel and Hamas.So, if the Palestinians are content with their situation in Judea and Samaria, as Abbas says they are, they also have little incentive to make any compromises. And that's exactly what the putative president of putative Palestine told Washington Post savvy journalist Jackson Diehl who brought along for his interview with Abbas Fred Hiatt, the person who has made the paper's editorial pages something you should really want to read.Diehl's article is headlined, "Mahmoud Abbas says there is nothing for him to do." This just about knocks the wind out of Obama's whole Palestinian state initiative, and I wonder whether he sees the trap into which he has wandered. It also makes you wonder why Abbas was so bald and bold in showing that the United States demanding concessions only from Israel would encourage the Palestinians to do nothing. "In the West Bank we have a good reality...We are having a good life." Or, as Diehl observes, "Palestinians remain a long way from swallowing reality...Setting aside Hamas and its insistence that Israel must be liquidated, Abbas -usually described as the most moderate of Palestinian leaders- last year helped doom Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, by rejecting a generous outline for Palestinian statehood."Let me confess: I thought it far too generous, perilous, in fact. But it's somewhat true, as Diehl also writes, that Bibi's "Likud party has not yet reconciled itself to the idea that Israel will have to give up most of the West Bank and evacuate tens of thousands of settlers." On the other hand, I more than suspect that Netanyahu sees the handwriting on the wall quite clearly. And if the Palestinians were more realistic and less suicidal, Netanyahu would engage the few resistants in his own flank -and they are really only a very few- and read it to them in very clear Hebrew. "The handwriting on the wall" comes from Book of Daniel: 5. Daniel explicates the mysterious words to Balthazar: his kingdom is to come to an end. The future of Israel is not at all so dire. But Bibi is as brave as Daniel. He knows what mene, mene, tekel, parsin means. The real problem now is that once again the Palestinians seemed to have no idea what's happening around them. If this umpteenth attempt at peace processing is aborted both our president and the Palestinian president will be responsible. If the talks are rescued from the dustbin it will because of Bibi Netanyahu.