Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 2 May 2007
"......On the Palestinian side, the national unity government has so far been unable to function. The security situation remains so grave that the interior minister offered his resignation. The international boycott continues. The daily Israeli incursions, killings and arrests of Palestinians have led to the inevitable collapse of the fragile unofficial "state of pacification". Neither Olmert nor Abbas is in a position to take drastic decisions, with the former fighting for his political life in the face of the conclusions of the Winograd report and the poor evaluation the report has given to Olmert's Lebanon war management (in addition of course to his domestic problems), and the latter rushing between Arab and European capitals, seeking to replenish his depleted authority and bankrupt diplomacy after almost two years of sterile movement......
We, and the often misled world opinion, are the ones who need to understand that it is not the haggling over the exaggerated issue of the refugees that is the obstacle. The greater obstacle, rather, are the borders, for Israel is not willing under the current circumstances to negotiate on the basis of evacuating the land occupied in the 1967 war on all Arab fronts, as the Arab initiative requires. Overstating the refugee issue has been a deliberate distraction from the territorial problems which, once implemented in full, would require the removal of all Israeli settlements built on occupied Arab land after June 1967.....
The real problem with the Arab initiative is the absence of Arab political weight behind it. The initiative has been offered from a position of weakness and inability to do better. The Arabs were trying to improve their image in the West, posing as a peace-loving nation that made "peace its strategic choice", rather than taking an effective step towards a decent settlement. When Israel can consolidate all its war gains without risking anything, why should it be tempted by a lesser offer, from an "enemy" which has long been fully taken by granted, an enemy which does not pose any threat.
It is the vast imbalance of power that is the strategic impediment, according to a recent, and indeed an excellent, diagnosis of the situation offered by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (The New York Review of Books, May 10). "Israel's power," the authors wrote, "provides it with self-confidence, but also lures it away from the necessary compromise. "Without the threat," they add, "there is little pressure, and without the pressure, there is scant incentive to [take] political or military risks for the sake of an uncertain and an ill-defined peace."
The basic problem with the Arab Peace Initiative is in its "begging approach" which surrenders completely to the charitable whims of the aggressor. The victim continues to make gestures and offers without any hint as to what would happen if such offers are dismissed. The power of the law, international law in particular, is not in the voluntary observance, it is in the code of punishment of those who break it and commit crimes. Without enforcing international law, it will be foolish to expect change. Pleading has never been an instrument of policy. It encourages opposite results.
Once more hopes are being dashed. Unfortunately, in the absence of any improvement, the only other alternative is for the situation to worsen. How far can that go?"