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Saturday, March 22, 2008

What the surge in Iraq can teach us about 'Palestine'

In Friday's JPost, Caroline Glick applied the lessons of the 'surge' in Iraq to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. There is much that could be learned.
THE POSITIVE trends being seen today in Iraq are made all the more apparent when they are viewed against the situation in the Palestinian Authority.

Whereas Iraqi support for attacks against US forces has been declining steadily for the past year, in the PA, support for attacks against Israelis is at an all-time high. So too, while Shi'ite support for Shi'ite militias has dropped from 36% last spring to 22% today and support among Sunnis for the anti-al-Qaida "Awakening Groups" stands at 73%, support for terrorists among the Palestinians is steadily increasing: 84% of Palestinians support this month's massacre of yeshiva students in Jerusalem; 64% of Palestinians support the missile campaign against southern Israel.

In Iraq, the presidency council was forced by the US to accept the provincial election law to stabilize the country. The law is the result of a grassroots initiative of the Iraqis themselves. In contrast, in Palestinian society, leaders jockey for public support by increasing their radicalism. Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas is today attempting to gain public support by adopting policies that are openly hostile to Israel and are based on a rejection of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

This week The Jerusalem Post reported that Abbas has approved a plan to call for so-called Palestinian refugees to besiege Israel's borders with Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and Jordan on Israel's 60th Independence Day in May. The plan also calls for Americans, Europeans and Canadians of Palestinian descent to converge on Israel by air and sea that day in an attempt to force Israel to accept millions of foreign-born Arabs into the country.

This plan makes clear that as far as endgames are concerned, Abbas envisions a future without Israel that bears little distinction from Hamas's strategic aim of destroying the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, then, Abbas and his associates in Fatah are intensifying their efforts to reinstate a Fatah-Hamas government throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza ahead of the Arab League summit in Syria scheduled for March 29.

In the midst of all of this, the Democratic-controlled US Congress approved a Bush administration request to transfer $150 million to the PA's treasury. This move was a reflection of the bipartisan support enjoyed by the Bush administration's efforts to oversee negotiations between the Olmert-Livni-Barak government and Abbas towards the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem by the end of the year.

The root of the great disparity between Bush's willingness to gamble on the surge to prevent failure in Iraq and his unwillingness to change course on his policy towards the Palestinians when it is clear that his strategy of establishing a Palestinian state is only strengthening jihadists is found in the absence of public debate in Washington on the feasibility of the US Palestinian strategy. The fact is that for the past 15 years, since the US first embraced the PLO as a peace partner for Israel, there has been no significant political debate in the US regarding the reasonableness of the strategy of appeasing the Palestinians by pressuring Israel not to defend itself from attack and empowering the Palestinians with financial assistance and military training.

AND, OF course, the same is true in Israel. It is unclear whether the Americans have prevented Israeli leaders from accepting that the two-state paradigm is a failed paradigm, or if Israeli leaders have convinced the Americans not to accept the failure of the paradigm. Probably both have contributed to the current policy paralysis in Jerusalem and Washington alike.

What is clear is that in the absence of such a debate, unlike the situation in Iraq, no significant bloc of policymakers or politicians in Washington feels like it has a stake in the policy's failure. As a consequence, year in and year out, the US promotes a policy that has no chance of succeeding. And year in and year out, as the Palestinians become increasingly supportive of jihad, administration officials make increasingly absurd statements about the need to empower them still further. So it is that this week US Ambassador Richard Jones told the Post that Jews will just have to leave Jerusalem because the US opposes building Jewish neighborhoods beyond the 1949 armistice lines in the city and young families cannot afford increasingly expensive existing housing in the city.

One could say that the tentative progress of democracy in Iraq is the consequence of an engaged, democratic debate in America that forced people to make decisions and forced the administration to contend with reality.

It is similarly due to the absence of such a debate about the failure of the US's attempts to appease the Palestinians that forces of terror and tyranny are on the rise in Ramallah and Gaza as Israel debates mindlessly about whether residents of the South will just have to live with daily missile attacks in their living rooms and kindergartens and massacres in their schools, or whether something lasting might be done about it.
Of course, if there were any debate in Israel about whether establishing a 'Palestinian state' is the right thing to do, there might be a debate about it in America. And yes, it is possible that the Olmert-Barak-Livni government (and its predecessors) have prevented such a debate from taking place. But alas, even Glick's favorite candidate for Prime Minister supports the creation of a 'Palestinian' state reichlet; he just wants to 'ensure' that it doesn't become a 'terror state' (as if it's possible to ensure that).


At 10:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

There has been a discussion in the U.S. about the 2-state approach requiring support for fake moderate terrorists Fatah, but AIPAC and most everyone heavily lobbied for the wrong side.

As for Iraq and the surge--it won't work, the underlying problem has not been addressed. The U.S. clearly made some deals w/Iran to get a temporary reduction in trouble-making, but Iraq is a failure and will result in another Islamic state whose constitution throws a bone to democracy but gives primacy to Islamic law.

I disagree that the U.S. is inconsistent in its approaches toward Iraq in comparison to the Palestinians. The U.S. has a failed policy towards Iraq, a failed policy toward Israel/Palestinians, a failed policy toward states sponsoring terror, and a failed policy toward the ummah in general. Consistent failure (and yes, that includes Afghanistan, it won't work there either, despite initial impressions).


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