Friday, February 16, 2007

Road Blocks from Mecca: Is the Peace Process DOA?

What can be hoped for next week when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice meets in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas? Rice Faces Uphill Battle for Mideast Breakthrough
It is hard to imagine a bleaker horizon for reviving the prospects for meaning dialogue on a 'peace process,' given the fact that an unrepentant Hamas has categorically refused to agree to the most basic of conditions for a resumption of negotiations--continued refusal to recognize Israel, no renunciation of violence, and unwillingness to abide by past written commitments. A weakened Abbas cannot afford to make the only kind of concession on the Palestinian refugee issue--relinquishment of their non-starter position of 'right of return' into Israel proper----that could allow Israel to even begin to contemplate an agreement. Is the United States and the European Union throwing good money after bad in a futile attempt to prop up an already moribund Fatah president and unstoppably hemorrhaging Fatah party? What kind of constructive role can the Saudis play and are they willing to do more than re-align Hamas with their Sunni roots, in an effort to undermine Iranian Shia influence? Several different takes on the situation are offered below.

Next Steps in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
David Makovsky
The Mecca accord is a victory for Hamas, which has achieved its goal of forming a unity government without agreeing to the conditions imposed by the Quartet - namely, no recognition of Israel, no disavowal of violence and no commitment to agree to past written agreements. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Abbas has legitimized an unrepentant Hamas. Secretary Rice's political horizon initiative was being done in no small measure in order to bolster Abbas at Hamas' expense. People who felt there was a logic to bolstering Abbas against Hamas' growing strength, and therefore supported the security mission of Gen. Keith Dayton and $86 million in non-lethal military assistance, must now wonder if the new Palestinian coalition alignment could lead to a very different outcome. The Mecca experience suggests that not everyone is on the same page. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

The Art of the Possible Peace
Dennis Ross
Many, including Secretary of State Rice, see Saudi, Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders as sharing a perception of Iran as a threat. With such common fears, the thinking goes, the leaders should be willing to accept the necessary hard compromises and end the Palestinian conflict so Iran can no longer exploit the conflict to build its following and put the region's moderates on the defensive. The assessment of the common threat perception is correct. But basing policy only on this misses an important regional reality. Priorities differ on how best to respond to the Iranian threat. For the Saudis, weaning Hamas away from Iran and producing intra-Palestinian peace is more important than trying to forge peace between Palestinians and Israelis. For the Israelis, however, an intra-Palestinian peace that entails accommodating Hamas (and that does not require Hamas to change its hostile posture toward Israel) is hardly a basis for reaching out to Palestinians in a way that would satisfy the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians. Is Israel likely to contemplate excruciating concessions on Jerusalem or territory with a Palestinian government led in part by those who refuse to acknowledge its existence or renounce terrorism? The political options available for peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians have been reduced. And Rice's efforts have to be guided by what is possible, not by what is most desirable. (Washington Post)

Secular Palestinians Surrender to Religious Fanaticism in Mecca Deal
Ray Hanania
While Palestinians see themselves in a conflict with Israel, the real battle is among themselves. Will the Palestinian people be a democratic society based on tolerance and respect for all views and religions, or will it be dominated by a religious demagoguery that distorts religion into a self-serving political agenda? Mahmoud Abbas signed an "accord" with Hamas, the Islamicist organization whose entire existence has been based on violent rejection of compromise, not just with Israel but with the larger and dominant secular Palestinian movement. Hamas has always understood that its ability to prevent peace through the use of violence and even acts of terrorism and suicide bombings against non-military Israeli targets would serve to prevent a genuine peace accord. Today, with no sign of a possible peace accord on the horizon, thanks to Hamas intransigence on compromise, Hamas has forced the secular Palestinian leadership to surrender to its will. Hamas wants all of Palestine or nothing, willing to sacrifice Palestinians for an endless conflict. Despite the pain of an internal Palestinian civil war, the question of whether the future would be in the hands of Hamas or Fatah was too important to sign away in some pathetic deal in which Abbas has basically surrendered his leadership. Hamas is now the voice of Palestine, whose real goal is not Palestinian independence, but the greater goal of political Islam. (Ynet News)

Condi's Summit Won't Bridge Palestinian Gaps
Zev Chafets
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem next Monday. The event is already being called, in Hebrew, "the delusional summit." Rice wants to talk with the parties because that's what diplomats do, but it is doubtful that she expects results. The gaps are too wide and the animosities are too deep, not just between Israel and the Arabs but among the Palestinians themselves. If the two Palestinian sides can keep the peace until next Monday, Abbas will meet with Rice not as the leader of the unified Palestinian people, but as Hamas' junior partner and mouthpiece. And nothing he can say will move the peace process an inch. (New York Post)


Anonymous said...

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( )?

David Brumer said...

A bit draconian. I wouldn't put it in such absolutist terms. The Jewish way is to always have our hand extended in peace, looking for any small window of opportunity, but to do so with caution and wariness of our partners. See Joshua Katzen
below for more on what's wrong with the Annapolis paradigm.
he does get one date wrong;Israel left Gaza in 2005, not 2004.