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Friday, January 04, 2008

The end of the 'peace process'?

At Commentary, Noah Pollak argues that yesterday's firing of a grad rocket - a variety of Katyusha - from Gaza that landed in northern Ashkelon, is the beginning of the end of the 'peace process.'

Today, nine people in Gaza were killed in Israeli reprisals for a Palestinian rocket attack that employed a Katyusha instead of the regular Kassam. The Katyusha rocket landed some eleven miles away, in Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people and one of Israel’s most important ports. This represented a serious escalation in the Gaza rocket campaign, and was met with a corresponding Israeli escalation.

Such Israeli escalations, of course, quickly do two things: kill Palestinian civilians—Israel’s recent record of being able to pick off terrorists without harming civilians will not last forever—and galvanize West Bank Palestinians against the Israeli counteroffensive, thus breaking up the superficial political conviviality that Annapolis has helped nurture between Fatah and Israel. Both of these things have now happened. Regarding civilian deaths, the second paragraph of the AP story that is currently posted on the New York Times website reads: “Three civilians were among those killed, Palestinian medical officials said. More than 30 people were wounded, including five children. A 14-year-old boy was in critical condition.”

Regarding the irresistibility of condemning Israel, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, an Abbas spokesman, quickly found the old rhythm: “We consider what’s going on in Gaza . . . as a bloody Israeli message in which Israel shirks itself of any commitment before the arrival of President Bush to the region.” He of course had nothing to say about the Palestinian escalation of the rocket war against Israel.

This confrontation will worsen. As I wrote last week, the IDF and Shin Bet in recent weeks have been stunningly successful at taking out Gaza terrorists in targeted killings. In response, the terror groups must show that they are not deterred and that their “resistance” can continue. If possible, they must escalate their offensive in order to create the appearance, however implausible, that Israel’s targeted killings are not harming their ability to wage jihad. Hence, today, the long-range Katyusha, about which the IHT reports:

Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the Katyusha attack. “We are going to launch more strikes in the depth of the entity (Israel),” they said in a joint statement. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a tiny group backed by Hamas, also claimed responsibility.

I wish I could share Noah's optimism because the very existence of a bogus 'peace process' under these circumstances is leading to Israel taking escalating risks to its security and gaining nothing in return. By any rational standard the 'peace process' would have been over long ago not have started after Camp David until the 'Palestinians' took real steps to fight terror - steps I don't believe they will ever take. Instead, with the Olmert-Barak-Livni government trying to maintain itself in power by playing to the David Landau's of the world, it is quite likely that the 'peace process' will continue - if only in name - and that the government will continue to risk Israelis lives for it.

What's so harmful about the 'peace process' existing right now is that while Israel continues to backpedal on its positions and ignore its red lines, the 'Palestinians' continue with their maximalist demands. For example, earlier this week, excerpts of an interview with Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert were published in the Jerusalem Post. Today, the full interview is there (it's not online yet) and instead of standing up and demanding that the 'Palestinians' recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Olmert is satisfied that Abu Mazen "genuinely wants peace" and recognizes Israel as a Jewish state in his "heart of hearts." That's good enough for Olmert, but it's not good enough for the vast majority of Israelis and it's certainly not enough for our safety and security. The 'Palestinian people' need to be told that Israel is and will remain a Jewish state and that they cannot murder all the Jews and wipe it off the map. Until they internalize that, there is nothing to discuss with them.

While Olmert keeps backpedaling on Israel's red lines, the 'Palestinians' continue not to budge one inch from their intransigent maximalist positions of the last sixty years. For example, this morning they are rejecting the insistence that 'Palestine' be demilitarized:
The prospects for a breakthrough in the peace process in the near future have dwindled following reports that Israel will demand that the future Palestinian state be demilitarized, Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said Thursday.


The PA leadership said it was very concerned by the fact that Israel was planning to demand that the IDF be able to operate inside a future Palestinian state to foil terrorist attacks or a military offensive from the east.

"The Palestinian Authority rejects talk about a demilitarized Palestinian state," a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "A Palestinian state that does not have a strong security force won't be able to survive for one day. Every day Israel sends yet another message that it does not want peace with its neighbors."

Another official in Ramallah said Israel's talk about a demilitarized Palestinian state and retaining control of Ma'aleh Adumim and other settlement blocs in the West Bank "proves that Israel is not working toward achieving a two-state solution."

Israel, he added, wanted a Palestinian state only on parts of the West Bank where the IDF would continue to operate freely. "Our position remains unchanged," the official said. "There will never be peace without a Palestinian state in the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. We insist on a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders."

PA negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo, who has been dispatched to Washington for talks with US officials ahead of President George W. Bush's visit to the region next week, will express the PA's deep concern over Israel's latest security measures and position regarding the status of the future Palestinian state, the official told the Post.

According to the official, Abed Rabbo would demand that Bush call for an end to construction in all settlements, including in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, during his visit to Israel and the PA territories.

The PA also wants a clear statement from Bush that a Palestinian state would enjoy full sovereignty with a strong security force, the official said.
In other words, the 'Palestinians' expect Israelis to rely on them to protect us from terror attacks by 'Palestinians' and from possible invading armies to the east (Jordan, Iran and others). Yet to date they have given no indication whatsoever of any willingness to actually fight terror. In fact, rather than fight terror, Abu Mazen's 'moderate' Fatah movement is an active participant in the terror. And yet, Ehud Olmert continues to reward them with 'concessions' like releasing dangerous terrorists who will attempt to commit mass murder.

The longer the 'peace process' goes on, the more demands for 'concessions' Israel will face and the more those 'concessions' will just become the starting point for another round in the future.

Is this 'peace process' coming to an end? I hope and pray that it will before any further harm to Israel occurs. But I see no indication that Olmert is willing to call it quits.


At 1:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I don't think Olmert can call it quits. But neither, in the light of what's going on in Gaza, can he convince Israelis to accept a heavily armed Palestinian state on its borders. The distance between what Israel needs and the Palestinians want are enough to ensure a final status agreement are out of reach. And that's not even touching existing settlements, Jerusalem, the Old City and Israel's identity as the Jewish State.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Ron said...

Is there a problem with suing the PA (doesn't Israel remit taxes to them?) for damage done to various people and structures in Israel? If this were the US, the PA wouldn't have a dime left. Shouldn't they pay for their actions?


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