The road map will shortly be published, and there are no surprises. Implemented as it stands, it would be detrimental to Israel and amount to a recycling of the disastrous Oslo Accords.
Despite appearances, Prime Minister Abu Mazen, the Holocaust revisionist, is no exponent of peaceful coexistence. He differs with Arafat only on tactical not moral grounds. He recognizes that the policy of terror was a failure and is willing to revert to diplomacy. His new security minister, Muhammad Dahlan, the former commander of the Preventive Security Service, also has an ugly track record of terror.
And Yasser Arafat, the duplicitous mass murderer, still occupies a controlling role in the “reformed” PA, and his loyalists continue to dominate the new cabinet. Indeed, the principal security organizations remain under Arafat’s control despite the prime minister’s alleged control of security.
There are thus no circumstances in which Israel should accept the road map as it presently stands, when, in addition to Arafat’s ongoing control, it postulates a moral equivalency between ourselves and those who seek to kill us, and insists that come what may, a Palestinian state will be created by 2005.
Democracy in the road map is simply a mirage. If the Palestinians the world’s most vociferous supporters of Saddam Hussein voted today, there is little doubt they would continue to enthusiastically validate the suicide bombings.
More importantly, despite mumbles to the contrary, there are no indications that Abu Mazen is willing or able to take the tough steps necessary to end the carnage. He has not even hinted at a willingness to meet Israel’s minimum requirements and refuses to accept an end to the conflict.
His call for an end to the killings is restricted only to Israel proper; he reiterates his unyielding commitment to the Palestinian “right of return” to Israel; he declines to respond to the critical issue of anti-Jewish incitement in the schools, mosques and media, and recently even offered Hamas the education portfolio in his cabinet.
On the international level, Israel could never accept as honest brokers the perfidious Europeans and the dysfunctional United Nations, dominated by tyrants and governments whose anti-Israeli bias in recent months has reached unprecedented heights.
But this need not discourage us. On the contrary. For the first time, there is potentially a real “new Middle East” on the horizon, and a remarkable window of opportunity may have opened.
The downfall of Saddam Hussein has dramatically reduced the conventional external threats facing us. The eastern front has crumbled; Iran and Syria are isolated; Egypt not our friend remains strategically committed against war; and Hizbullah is in the process of being defanged.
THE JUNE 24, 2002 policy speech by President George W. Bush was an important, perhaps even historic, turning point and reflects the current administration’s responsiveness to Israel’s needs more than any of its predecessors. And despite intense pressure from its British partner, the US will surely not blindly endorse anti-Israeli initiatives from the biased UN or the Europeans as manifested by the Quartet.
More importantly, although divided on details, the vast majority of Israelis today share a broad consensus on not seeking to rule over Palestinians for a single day longer than our security necessitates. But they are equally determined to resist making unilateral concessions which would reward terrorism.
And while only the extreme Left would support dismantling all settlements, most of us agree that in the event of a genuine Palestinian willingness to accept Jewish sovereignty and take steps to curtail terror, we would, to use Prime Minister Sharon’s language, be obliged “to make painful sacrifices” and withdraw from isolated settlements.
However that should not be interpreted to mean that Israelis would sanguinely agree to retreat to the 1967 boundaries, which Abba Eban described as “the Auschwitz borders.”
It is vital that we play our cards coolly and shrewdly. President Bush explicitly stated that the PA must dismantle the terror infrastructure before the US would back the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Colin Powell reiterated this a few days ago.
Our government must speak with one voice, insisting that we will not compromise Israel’s long-term security requirements. Yet at the same time we must signal our willingness to be flexible in response to a genuine Palestinian change of heart, if and when it ever comes.
But we still face a disaster if the ruling coalition partners begin to squabble and the government unravels. In that event, the national camp would marginalize itself into an opposition. It would again be responsible for the return to government of the unreconstructed architects of Oslo.
Such a “unity” government would undoubtedly revive the former regime of private fiefdoms in which ministers felt free to publicly criticize cabinet policies, creating chaos and confusion at home and abroad.
FOR NOW, Tommy Lapid, the minister of justice and head of Shinui, the most dovish party in the government, says that there is nothing for the cabinet to discuss if the road map does not incorporate key amendments crucial to Israel.
Much, therefore, depends on the National Religious Party and the National Union. They must recognize that in the real world, responsible political activists are obliged to display sophisticated flexibility. They should remember the tragic episodes in our history arising from zealotry and recall that if David Ben-Gurion had listened to his critics and not opted for partition there would never have been a Jewish state.
President Bush recently referred to Abu Mazen as “a man dedicated to peace.” Would that he be proven right. I hope he follows the example of Anwar Sadat, also once a Holocaust revisionist, who overcame his past and become a great statesman.
However neither prior behavior nor good intentions will ultimately provide a litmus test for the success of a new leadership. That will be deeds a willingness and ability to rein in terror, end the incitement, give up on the “right” of return and become reconciled to Jewish sovereignty, accept enforceable demilitarization, and bring an end to the conflict.
Should the Palestinians remain unwilling to adopt such policies, irrespective of the road map, Sharon must maintain a determined opposition to Palestinian statehood.
But we should be positive and realize that the downfall of Saddam, combined with the achievements of Operation Defensive Shield, could provide the opportunity to initiate the genesis of a genuine peace settlement.
If the Palestinians again, in Eban’s words, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” Israel will at least ensure that Arab intractability is clearly exposed to the world.
Our security forces will then be authorized to take whatever long-term steps are necessary to protect the future of our children.