Saturday, October 22

The Bush-Abbas Summit

The two leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas and President George Bush, have met once again in Washington. As predicted, nothing new has come out of this meeting. The usual discussions are becoming routinely unimpressive with no new strategies or ideas. What does stand out like a sore thumb is an exercise in futility! Nothing ventured – nothing gained. The usual pleasantries, unconstructive platitudes, empty promises as well as sterile pledges to end the violence on the Palestinian side were the order of the day.

President Mahmoud Abbas stood on the podium at the predictable press conference after the summit making empty promises and knowing that he would not do anything to disarm the terror brigades in his midst. The Road Map will remain a moribund plan on the books. What was the intention of the Washington Summit? It never received much press coverage nor was there more than a passing interest in the local Israeli press on the outcome and expectations that were non-existent.

Meanwhile the U.S gave the impression that it had softened its attitude towards Hamas participating in the upcoming Palestinian elections and never raised the issue at all. It is highly unlikely that U.S. pressure would be applied on Mahmoud Abbas to disarm Hamas before it can participate in the elections. What is puzzling is that Bush talks about the Palestinians holding democratic elections so that the ultimate democratic Palestine can arise from it all. This is a contradiction in terms. How could one think of a future democratic Palestine when some of the candidates remain armed members of terror groups and will get in on a terror ticket? This is part and parcel of Bush’s total naivety. The U.S record for installing democracy in the Middle East is poor and ineffectual as can be seen in the mess they created in Iraq. They may even make that mistake once again in their attitude towards Syria with Basher Assad being suspect in the assassination of Hariri of Lebanon. “Iraqi democracy” is total anarchy with various terror groups calling the tune in mass butchering; suicide bombings as well as total chaos. Al Qaeda factions seem to have gained strength in Iraq while under Saddam Hussein they were not a factor at all. When the U.S becomes involved in the Arab world, she makes an unholy mess! U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, Afghanistan and in other Moslem countries which she intends to police will not occur for many years to come.

It seems as if Bush accepts what Abbas had said that the disarming of Hamas would create a civil war within the Palestinian camp which would weaken his (Abbas’s) position. The reality is that Abbas is weak anyway and has no desire to weaken his own position further by sowing dissension in the Palestinian camp. In any case, whatever Israel or the US do to support Abbas will really weaken him even further in Palestinian street. What may be called for is discretion in the U.S. and Israeli attitude towards Mahmoud Abbas. This means not being over enthusiastic about supporting him in the upcoming elections. This could amount to non-interference even if it means turning a blind eye to Hamas participation. On the other hand, supporting Hamas’s legitimacy to participate in the Palestinian elections could be a catalyst in Hamas moderating her stance towards terror activity and even abandoning it as a tactic. Many terror organizations in the world became legitimate partners in government. This was the case of the Mau Mau in Kenya in the 1950’s before Jomo Kenyatta in the early 1960’s and Sin Fein under Gerry Adams in Northern Ireland. Even closer to home, there was the Sterne Gang and the Irgun that ceased terror activity against the British when Israel was established.

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