April 16, 2004

Diplomatic Malpractice


CNN reported yesterday: Arafat: Palestinians won't concede to Sharon's plan.

In supporting [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, Bush said Palestinian refugees should not be able to return to the lands they left in 1948 when Israel was formed, saying they must be settled in a Palestinian state instead. [...]

Bush said Sharon's plan would also remove all Israeli settlements and some military installations from Gaza, could "accelerate the process" of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by reinvigorating a peace process that has all but ground to a halt.

As with a lot of President Bush's Middle East policies lately, there's good news and bad. Good: Bush has publicly rejected a long-standing false argument that Palestinian Arabs have a "right of return" to territories lost during Arab wars against Israel. Bad: Bush still backs the creation of a Palestinian state for a population whose leadership is composed of terrorists (just this week, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was reported to have approved of the U.S. convoy attack).

Robert W. Tracinski, publisher and editor of The Intellectual Activist, recently described the plan as essentially an "Israeli retreat to a defensive posture, abandoning Gaza and parts of the West Bank to rule by terrorist gangs." So why is the new plan receiving such widespread condemnation? Tracinski writes:

"Because it was not enough of a surrender to terrorism. The Gaza pullout, in the minds of Sharon's critics, would only be valid as part of a 'negotiated settlement' in which the Palestinians are supposed to hold the 'bargaining chips' of demanding a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and demanding a 'right of return' (for refugees who fled Israel 50 years ago) that would flood Israel with hostile Muslim fanatics. The new agreement is condemned because it rejects these bargaining chips, with President Bush saying that the US will back Israel's claim to most of its settlements in the West Bank and that we will reject the 'right of return.'

"The problem for Israel is that it has made a real concession -- giving up land and military control in Gaza -- in exchange for the mere promise that the US will back the Israeli position in future negotiations. But all of those promises, of course, can be easily abandoned in the face of future pressure, demands, and threats."

Yasser Arafat not only wants all of the disputed territories but all of Israel as well. As such, Bush's stronger public backing of Israel over Arafat is welcome. But to allow Arafat's dictatorship or some variation of it to become an official state is not acceptable. After all, aren't we in a war to end terror-sponsoring states?

Posted by Forkum at April 16, 2004 01:51 AM