Dan Baron’s insightful front page column was quite informative (“Uncertainty hampers progress for Israel, Palestinians,” July 6).
Baron highlights the redrawing of the Palestinian political map following the Hamas violent takeover of Gaza, thus complicating Israel’s plans to forge new ties to the Palestinian Authority.
In 2000, Arafat’s rejection of statehood and peace at the Camp David summit exposed the fact that the Fatah-based, two-state solution was a failure. Yet both Jerusalem, under the Barak and Sharon governments, and Washington, under the Clinton and Bush administrations, have refused in the intervening years to accept its failure. To the contrary, since 2000, Israel and the U.S. have redoubled their efforts to “strengthen Fatah” in the hopes of establishing that Palestinian state.
Even as their favorite “moderates” — who at various times have included Arafat, Abbas, security chief Muhammad Dahlan, convicted mass murderer Marwan Barghouti, former P.A. President Ahmed Qurei and current Fatah Prime Minister Salam Fayad — have all been implicated in terror attacks and funding, both Israel and the U.S. have remained unstinting in their view: Fatah must be strengthened in order to achieve a two-state solution.
It is surprising that in spite of Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, its popularity in Judea and Samaria, and Abbas’s inability to even control his own terror forces in Fatah, the Bush administration and the Olmert government are adamant: Fatah must be strengthened in order to achieve a “political horizon” that will bring about the Palestinian state.
And now, by engaging in negotiations with Hamas, Fatah intends to prove them wrong yet again. And again, far from engendering peace and security, the Fatah-based policy breeds yet more instability and greater Palestinian support for terror.
What should be radically altered is the political strategy informing U.S. and Israeli policymakers. The 14-year obsession with strengthening Fatah has hooked Palestinians on the belief that they can and should expect Israel to fund and legitimize them even as they become more radical in their hatred of the Jewish State and ever more devoted to the cause of its destruction.
It will no doubt take a generation to disabuse the Palestinians of this belief. And as long as this belief informs the Palestinians, there is no chance of ever reaching a political accommodation between them and Israel.
So rather than seeking to appease the Palestinians into accepting statehood, Israel and the U.S. must set the course for an internal Palestinian reckoning with what they have become. To this end, the most Israel can responsibly offer the Palestinians is civilian autonomy with no military component. This state of affairs must last until the Palestinians themselves have proven, through their actions, that they have kicked their addiction to jihad.