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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 05, 2003

A PLO Counselor's Break with Reality

Some solid truths posted by Martin Kimel to clear the smoke and mirrors
Of all of the many serious flaws of the “Road Map,” perhaps the most grave is that it is based on the premise that peace can be imposed on the parties, even when it is unclear that enough Palestinians truly accept the existence of a Jewish state and are willing to live in peace with Israel. It is therefore disheartening to read the articles of “moderates” such as PLO counselor Ghaleb Darabya, whose recent piece in the Washington Post demonstrates a near total break with reality and failure to acknowledge any wrongdoing whatever on the part of the Palestinians. Such blindness does not bode well for the prospects of peace. My comments, in italics, follow excerpts of Darabya's May 3 article, “Following the `Road Map' to Freedom”:

We have waited more than 35 years for the attainment of our rights, equality and self-determination. We are the only people on the face of the earth who continue to live under a foreign colonial occupation.

First, Israel is not a “foreign colonial” occupier. Its claim to the land is Biblical and antedates the founding of Islam by about 2,000 years. There is no mother country to which the Israeli “colonizers” can return. Second, the statement that there are no other people on the planet who consider themselves occupied is ludicrous. What about the Lebanese, who are occupied by Syria; the Tibetans, who are occupied by China; the Chechens, who are occupied by Russia; the Kurds, who are occupied by Turkey; the Basques who are occupied by Spain; the Saharawis, who are occupied by Morocco? The list goes on . . . .

We have tried every possible means to achieve our human and national aspirations. From the first intifada to the Madrid conference to the Oslo peace process to the Wye River memorandum to the Sharm el-Sheikh conference to the Camp David talks, Palestinians have pursued every possible avenue to live in peace and provide the children of our region a promising future.

The violent first intifada is a rather bizarre example of a Palestinian effort to live in peace with Israel. And what about the Palestinians' pledge to resolve their conflict with Israel peacefully, which they made as part of the Oslo accords and then abandoned in favor of negotiation through terrorism after Yehud Barak offered to give up virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza and share sovereignty over Judaism's most holy city? The Palestinian school curriculum that teaches hatred of Jews and that the Israelis are vicious occupiers who have no right to a Jewish state in any part of “Palestine” hardly seems calculated to prepare Palestinian children to live in peace with Israel, either.

The road map envisions a series of steps to be taken in parallel by both parties, with the result being the creation of a Palestinian state on the 22 percent of our historical homeland occupied by Israel since 1967.

Read carefully, this sentence suggests that Israel occupied the other 78 percent of the Palestinians' historical homeland when the Jewish state was founded in 1948. Statements such as this justifiably cause Israelis concern that the more moderate Palestinians secretly share the goal of groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to destroy the Jewish state.

For our part, we Palestinians have begun fulfilling our commitments under Phase I of the road map. . . . [I]n consultation with a wide variety of international legal experts, we drafted a constitution that is acknowledged by American legal scholars to be the most democratic in the region, including Israel, which to this day lacks a constitution.

The Soviet Union had a great constitution on paper. It's how a constitution is implemented that counts, and the Palestinians are just now embarking on the road to democracy. The Israelis, who have a dynamic democracy and legal system based on the rule of law, support this effort. In response to Darabya's dig, it may be worth noting that Britain doesn't have a constitution either.

Third, on March 10, the Palestinian parliament approved an amendment to the Palestinian Basic Law creating the position of prime minister for the first time in our history. On March 19, Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, accepted President Yasser Arafat's nomination to fill this position. The international community, including the United States, welcomed these moves. Finally, on Tuesday, 51 of the 85 members of the Palestinian parliament voted confidence in an empowered and credible prime minister and approved his cabinet.

The road map was originally conditioned on Arafat's stepping aside, a requirement Bush imposed after he became convinced that Arafat duplicitously supports terrorism. Despite tremendous pressure from the U.S., Arafat is clinging to power. Indeed, according to press reports, Arafat has set up a national security council to keep security decisions under his influence, in violation of the terms of the Road Map. Calling Abbas "empowered" may be a bit of a stretch.

[Abbas] also said that his government will take steps to disarm all militias.

Hamas and Fatah's own militant group, the Al Aqsa martyrs' Brigade have said that they won't disarm. I hope Abbas succeeds, but many doubt he will be willing to risk a civil war to disarm these groups by force.

Palestinians have enacted these reforms and maintained their commitment to peace while living under full military occupation, with Israeli tanks in our streets, with continued closures denying movement of people, with 163 Israeli checkpoints slicing the West Bank into 300 separate clusters and with 31 checkpoints separating Gaza into three separate Bantustans.

These reforms were forced upon the Palestinians, with Arafat and his corrupt cronies kicking and screaming all the way. The statement that the Pals have “maintained their commitment to peace” would be laughable if it weren't so divorced from reality as to indicate psychosis. Palestinian terrorism forced the Israelis to re-occupy the territories the Israelis had withdrawn from as part of Oslo. There would be few if any roadblocks and checkpoints within these territories if the Palestinians had not lauched their current terrorist war against Israel. Israel, as a sovereign nation, of course has the right to restrict access to Palestinians seeking to enter Israel proper to work, and does so for security reasons.[more]