Monday, February 14, 2005

When Abu Mazen speaks, people listen

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas schmoozed with the New York Times yesterday. Some thoughts:
  • It's disconcerting to see the Palestinians with a leader who seems sane and responsible. That will take some getting used to - for all sides, I imagine. All in all, it's a good thing.

  • The Times headline (at least for the online edition): "Abbas Declares War With Israel Effectively Over". "Effectively over"? What does that mean? According to the body of the article:
    Mr. Abbas said the war with the Israelis would be over "when the Israelis declare that they will comply with the agreement I made in Sharm el Sheik, and today our comrades in Hamas and Jihad said they are committed to the truce, the cooling down of the whole situation, and I believe we will start a new era."

    Oh. It means, "when the Israelis do what I want them to." In other words, "not over yet"!

  • Though he speaks of negotiating with Israel to implement the US/European diplomatic "road map", he effectively rejects key elements of it. The road map demands the disarming of "militant" groups such as Hamas as a first step; Abbas sidesteps this, talking instead of gradually converting them into "democratic" political parties. This sounds unlikely so long as they keep their weapons. Israel will have trouble moving forward on diplomacy if Hamas and Islamic Jihad keep their guns cocked.

  • The road map envisions a "provisional" Palestinian state, its permanent borders to be determined in later negotiations. The idea is to avoid all the irreconcilable "final status" issues; by targeting an interim agreement, maybe the sides can reach a deal. Abu Mazen (like me, but for different reasons) rejects this:
    "If it is up to me, I will reject it." Palestinians will see an interim solution as a trap, replacing a final settlement, and "peace will not prevail anymore in the region," he said.
    "So it's better for us and for the Israelis to go directly to final status," he said. "I told Mr. Sharon that it's better for both sides to establish this back channel to deal with final status and go in parallel with the stages of the road map."

    This (again) confirms my prediction that There Will Be No Palestinian State.

1 comment:

Batya said...

It reminds me of something Ronny Reagan said about how he couldn't imagine how a non-actor could be president.