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January 29, 2006

End of the Road Map to Nowhere

Israeli author Michael Oren in Friday's WSJ on the Palestinian elections and their implications for Israeli security: (link for WSJ subscribers | Temporary | Local copy)

A solid majority of Israelis accept that they cannot continue to occupy the West Bank and Gaza without endangering the moral and demographic foundations upon which the Jewish state is built. That same majority would prefer to negotiate with a freely elected Palestinian leadership toward the creation of a Palestinian state that would live side-by-side with Israel in a relationship of mutual and permanent recognition. In the wake of President Mahmoud Abbas's failure to disarm and dismantle terrorist organizations, however, most Israelis internalized the conclusion that no Palestinian leadership was capable of meeting the minimum requirements for peace. Consequently, these same Israelis have resolved to preserve their national interests by supporting the Kadimah party -- which, in the absence of peace talks, advocates drawing Israel's borders unilaterally.

The advent of a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority will not alter these basic Israeli conclusions. Under Fatah, the PA expressed a willingness to renew the peace process but took none of the antiterror measures necessary to reactivate the talks. Hamas does not want peace talks, and will do everything to ensure that such discussions do not take place. In either case, Israel, in order to ensure its vital interests, will have to act unilaterally. There is no doubt that the Hamas victory will enable the right-wing Likud to point out the folly of the Gaza withdrawal and the danger of future unilateral pullbacks. Nevertheless, the outcome of the elections has confirmed Israeli doubts about the Palestinians' willingness to negotiate, and will more probably reinforce popular support for unilateral moves.

It is axiomatic (if not really understood in many quarters) that a precondition for a negotiated peace is that both sides must first truly want peace. Now that Palestinian voters have a replaced a government that pretended to want peace (while privately continuing to support armed struggle and incite violence) with one that openly is unwilling to accept a negotiated peace, Israel is sheltered from international pressure against unilateral moves to secure its borders. Unless and until the Palestinians decide they are ready to live in peace with Israel, this disengagement may be the only solution.

January 29, 2006 at 03:36 PM | Permalink


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