This is what ‘engagement’ looks like

I guess this is what they mean when they say “the US should ‘engage’ in the Israeli-Arab conflict”:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Bush administration has drawn up an eight-month timetable setting dates for when Israeli and Palestinian leaders would complete steps meant to bolster prospects for peace talks, U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

The U.S. timeline, the first of its kind presented to both sides, includes specific dates for when Washington envisages Israel letting Palestinian bus and truck convoys travel between the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, a demand that has raised some Israeli objections.

Washington, at the same time, has set dates for when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah would step up deployment of his forces and take specific measures to begin curbing rocket fire by militants.

What’s wrong with this plan:

  • Israel is required to take concrete steps which compromise security, while the Palestinians are required to deploy their “security forces”, many of whom are terrorists, and “take measures to begin” stopping terrorism.
  • The Bush administration has two very unequal partners. One is the Israeli government, which can control the actions of its army and permit or not permit Palestinian convoys to pass. The other is Mahmoud Abbas, who has little or no control over the actions of the Palestinians except for the members of his US-financed personal militia. The Palestinian ‘government’, such as it is, is in the hands of Hamas.

As with countless similar arrangements, here is what will happen: Unless Israel can wriggle out of it, she will be forced to allow the Palestinian convoys through — which might contain, for example, anti-aircraft weapons to be fired at Ben-Gurion Airport from the West Bank.

Abbas, on the other hand, try as he might, will not be able to control the ‘militants’, who — despite the arming and deployment of his militia — will somehow manage to perpetrate murderous acts against Israelis. But it won’t be his fault.

How is it legitimate for the Palestinians to demand something in return for…stopping terrorism?

Suppose I commit a series of bank robberies and am arrested by the police. Can I say “OK, I’ll agree to stop robbing banks, but only on these conditions…”? Of course not, bank robbery isn’t allowed in a civilized world.

The terrorism has to stop first. Period. Then we’ll talk.

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2 Responses to “This is what ‘engagement’ looks like”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    It is possible to question the sanity of the Bush Administration and Condeleez Rice in particular. What is the point of even thinking to Israel to make concessions now when it is facing such unremitting hostility from the cruel and stupid Palestinians? Is this the famous U.S. coordination with Saudi Arabia at work? This is the cooperation which has meant that the U.S. has systematically ignored the part Saudi Arabia has played in promoting terror an Anti- Americanism throughout the world.
    Just as Israel needs a rethinking of its policies and strategies, so does the U.S.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    The US State Department has never been a friend of Israel. Of course I don’t know if the Saudis have anything to do with this particular initiative, but the closeness of the Bush Administration to Saudi Arabia is not good for either the US or Israel.