Monday, November 26, 2007

Take Your Pix: Mug Shots or Photo Op

The circus that is the Annapolis summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an opportunity to once again reacquaint yourselves with the longstanding US diplomatic position on the Middle East. Every administration reflexively enters into this phase, regardless of the situation or circumstances.

The Bush Administration is no different. They think that the problems in the Middle East can be solved by nudging Israel to concede just a little bit more to the dictatorships and totalitarian regimes that ring the country and the terrorist thugocracies that are hell bent on Israel's destruction. The thugs and dictators provide support to terrorist groups, including those that seek Israel's destruction, so anything that can get Israel to concede ever more is a net plus to them.

Fatah has no interest in a two-state solution, though they'll say just enough to get by and the diplomats will overlook all the actions taken by the Palestinian terrorist group to further those goals.

In other words, Annapolis is just another opportunity to watch the diplomats in action - much sound and fury, but in the end it will signify nothing.

Indeed, Israelis are sour on the idea of making further concessions, even as Prime Minister Olmert is more than willing to give away practically everything, including the keys to half of Jerusalem in order to claim his share of an upcoming Nobel Prize.

Israelis realize that further concessions will not create conditions for peace. Palestinians living up to their obligations under prior agreements are a starting point, and to this day, the Palestinians have not fulfilled their obligations under Oslo. There's no reason to think that they're going to start now, especially when Hamas is under control over more than half of the territories currently under Palestinian control.

Fatah is making promises it knows it can't keep, and the diplomats know that the Palestinians can't keep those promises, and yet we're going through the motions of this charade anyway.

The Palestinian terrorists simply can't help themselves. Rockets once again rain down on Israel from Gaza. Israel struck at a separate rocket launching terror cell, killing three. Palestinians claim Israel is going after Palestinian factories in Gaza, but the fact is that the Palestinians use those locations to build rockets for firing at Israel.

Hamas says that Abbas has no right to make any agreements on behalf of the Palestinians. Hamas has a point. Hamas was elected by a majority of the Palestinians. To the diplomats, this is just an inconvenient fact to sweep under the rug.

It's another inconvenient fact that Hamas says that they will not abide by whatever agreement is produced at Annapolis (including the hot air).

The fact is that the Middle East, outside of Jordan and Egypt, do not recognize Israel, and this latest charade is doing nothing to change that fact. Bahrain's foreign minister notes that Israel wanted to open diplomatic relations with the Gulf State. Bahrain has suggested only that it might reconsider its position following Annapolis. That's a polite way of saying that unless Israel caves on all demands, nothing will change.

Syria will be joining the circus as well. If Israel is to be carved up, they want a piece of the action as well (see: Heights, Golan).

I'm not sure why news reports think that the risks are great at Annapolis. If the summit fails (the most likely outcome), it's just going to be a continuation of the status quo - Fatah and Hamas will continue attacks on Israel by all available means and Israel will support Fatah over Hamas, despite the fact that both seek Israel's destruction. If the summit succeeds (odds on which I put at about 1 out of 10,000), there is little risk because based on prior history, the Palestinians will again fail to live up to their obligations and Israel will continue to limp along from crisis to crisis.

The US will have engaged in another futile Middle East summit, and the diplomats will have tried out a new location for such failure. They should know by now that breakthroughs in Middle East diplomacy have come when the individual participants engage in secret negotiations (Oslo) or one side makes a grand gesture that moves towards reconciliation (Sadat going to Jerusalem). These summits are nothing more than photo opportunities for those involved. Everyone is going through the motions, knowing that the outcomes will be the same as all the earlier summits.

This, however, is the photo of the day, because it reflects my sentiment for the past couple of years. You cannot make peace with those who want to kill you. The Palestinians aren't interested in peace. They're interested in eliminating the Jewish state of Israel.

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