Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Little Too Blind

Haaretz's editorial today compares Likud to Hamas because both are unwilling to make important compromises at Annapolis. I guess that's true, but it's like saying that Hitler and Mother Teresa are similar because both ate breakfast in the morning. I don't need to explain the differences between Hamas and the Likud, as they are patently obvious.

Haaretz's rationale for supporting Annapolis is that,

[a]t Annapolis, Israel has a partner. It may be weak, it may represent only part of the Palestinian people, but finally there is another side that sees eye to eye with most of the people in Israel, a side that opposes using terror to achieve political goals and is willing to give up some of its original aspirations to reach an agreement.
Even if true, much of the opposition to Annapolis is based on the idea that Abu Mazen barely controls only part of the Palestinian people. He has no authority and little support in Gaza and it's not even completely clear he can control the West Bank.

Haaretz's editors don't care. They argue that

The Annapolis conference is an opportunity to forge an agreement with people who are willing to sign it, while hoping that the entire Palestinian people follows suit.
I'm not completely opposed to the idea of working with leaders and then hoping that the subjects will follow suit. That idea underpinned Oslo. If Arafat would agree to a deal, the positive benefits would manifest themselves in a way that would change the minds of the average Palestinian. If his lot improved and he had a measure of freedom from Israel's occupation, he would view Israel more favorably and the conflict would end. Basically the idea is that a peace process would jump-start a shift from hatred on both sides, to a more congenial acceptance of each other's existence.

Ok, that idea might have worked in 1993 or 2000. It's one thing to make a deal with a Palestinian leader like Arafat who enjoyed immense support (certainly early on) and could implement the agreement. It's totally another to negotiate and sign an accord with a leader with a minimal amount of support even in the area where he's supposed to reign supreme. Is anyone willing to assert with confidence that Abbas enjoys the support of 50% of Palestinians? Does he even supremely control his own security forces? If not, how exactly is he supposed to make the future benefits of the peace deal a reality?

Israel can't just negotiate with anyone. If the Palestinians can't get their act together, what kind of deal is worthwhile when it won't be worth much, if anything at all?

Update: Israel's intelligence agencies seem to agree that Abbas is a powerless leader.

A recently exposed joint document by the General Security Service (Shin Bet), the Mossad and military intelligence states that "even if understandings are reached in Annapolis, the chances of implementing them in the field are almost zero."

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