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Sunday, November 25, 2007

America's Condi's delusions

Efraim Inbar called this article The great American delusion, but I don't think anyone is fooled with the possible exception of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (for a smart lady, she is acting awfully dumb). Inbar lists several 'unfounded premises' on which the Annapolis conference mugging rests and urges Israelis to lay low on the peace front until there are 'better times.'
The US planned Annapolis conference whose goals are to facilitate the creation of a democratic Palestinian state - free of corruption and militias - that will live peacefully alongside Israel is doomed to fail. The American initiative rests on several unfounded premises.

The first is that Palestinian society can be reformed by outsiders. Middle Eastern societies have already proven their resistance to attempts by Western powers to change their old ways of doing business. It is naïve to believe that political and social dynamics rooted in centuries-old traditions can be easily manipulated by well-intentioned, but presumptuous Westerners. President George W. Bush should have learned this lesson from his experience in Iraq.


The second fallacy is that economic assistance to the Palestinians can alleviate political problems. Since the Oslo Accords in September 1993, the Palestinian Authority has received the most economic aid per capita in the world. Yet billions of euros transferred to the PA have been squandered or misused. Like some other Third World actors, the PA has been ingenious in siphoning a not insignificant amount of the aid it gets to those least in need of outside support.


The third fallacy is that Mahmoud Abbas can become the agent for change and therefore he deserves the support of the West. Abbas's record as a leader is dismal. He failed to unite the security services under one organ as he pledged and has not followed through with his anti-corruption election campaign promises. If anything, the chaos within the PA increased under his presidency. The Hamas takeover of Gaza is an obvious indication of his weakness.

The fourth fallacy is that Palestinian society can be quickly transformed into a good neighbor of Israel and that a stable settlement is within reach. Since the Oslo Accords, the PA's education system, media, and dramatic militarization process has done great damage to the collective Palestinian psyche. A society mesmerized by the use of force and embracing of the shahid (martyr) ready explode among the hated Israelis will not change overnight. Numerous facets of Palestinian society have been radicalized and the widespread influence and popularity of Hamas is a clear indication of such a process.


The fifth fallacy is that Hamas control of Gaza can be uprooted by intra-Palestinian politics. While Hamas's takeover of Gaza is correctly identified by the US as a victory for the Islamist forces in the Middle East and inimical to Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement, a Fatah led by Abbas cannot bring Hamas back under the PA umbrella. The West Bank Palestinians are too weak to impose their will on Gaza and without territorial contiguity they have little leverage on Gazan politics.
Read it all.


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