Friday, November 23, 2007

Who Speaks For the Palestinians?

The Bush/Cheney regime fervently hopes to broker a conclusive settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A coup like that would go a considerable way to salvage Bush's legacy already thoroughly mired in the Iraq fiasco.

It's one thing to bring two people together to strike a deal but the whole exercise is meaningless unless both individuals have the authority to speak for and bind their side to its terms. This is where the Annapolis adventure begins to turn wobbly.

There's no problem with the Israeli side. Prime Minister Olmert clearly represents his nation. It's the Palestinian representation that's the problem.

Bush is trying to strike a deal with Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Abbas and his party, Fatah, are clearly more maleable than their rival, Hamas. If there's a deal to be made, Abbas will accept terms Hamas would reject. The trouble is, the Palestinian people had a democratic election and voted in Hamas, not Fatah. And Hamas isn't going to be invited to Annapolis.

According to the International Crisis Group, conditions for an agreement are anything but ideal:

"Since Camp David, Israel has all but destroyed the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinian infighting has dramatically increased, and Abbas’s authority pales compared to Arafat’s. Critics rail that Hamas controls Gaza and Israel the vast majority of the West Bank, leaving the PA only Ramallah and, during the daytime hours that the Israeli military deem it safe, Nablus. Fatah, Abbas’s party and presumptive backbone of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), is divided, chaotic and bereft of ideology. Olmert fares not much better. He has recovered – slightly – from the humiliation of the 2006 Lebanon war but his poll ratings remain low, he faces multiple corruption investigations, and he must contend with rivals itching for his job and deal with a fragile coalition that could splinter or collapse at the first hint of compromise with the Palestinians. The U.S. administration’s staying power and willingness to take risks at a time when it must confront urgent crises in Iraq and Iran remain untested."

All three administrations involved in this exercise are in trouble. The ICG believes that a fundamental precondition to any settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is an end to the Fatah/Hamas conflict:

"Fatah/Hamas reconciliation and reunification of Palestinian territory ultimately are necessary for successful peacemaking. Unfortunately, isolating Hamas appears to be a principal motivation behind the Annapolis process: the U.S., Israel and Fatah are convinced Israeli-Palestinian progress and the Islamists’ marginalisation must go hand in hand. The idea is based on an assumption – that Gazans will rise up against Hamas because of the punishing siege – that reflects wishful thinking, not strategic thought."

The Bush regime's record of diplomacy in the Middle East speaks for itself yet that hasn't kept that administration from trying to fit round pegs into square holes time and again. Not being a "reality based" operation the Bushies simply ignore problems they can't shape to their liking and go on regardless. It's sort of like setting out on a long road trip with a flat tire. Bush et al may be happy to fool themselves but I doubt they'll be fooling many Palestinians.


Johnathon said...

Who speaks for the Palestinians?

1. The Liberal Party of Canada.

2. NDP

3. Hamas.

4. Terrorists who fire rockets into Israel on a daily basis.

5.Clearly, with the above parties representing the palestinians, there will never be peace.

If the Palestinians had a leader like Harper, there would be peace, and there would be no terrorism.

The Mound of Sound said...

Jonathon, no party in Canada speaks for the Palestinians. Now you're being silly. As for the idea that the Palestinians would ever choose a leader like Harper, you're being even sillier. I could just see Stevie running about in an Arab head scarf carrying a Kalashnikov. The only thing that could bring peace to these parties is honesty and fairness - not exactly Harper's long suit, eh?

The Mound of Sound said...

Say what?