Lost In The Shuffle

Thanks to the fine fellows over at Powerline, I found this rather remarkable article about President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, and their latest plans for the Mideast peace process.

As is usual in such cases, the most fascinating parts are those that are not mentioned, and it takes a bit of digging to find the real substantive portions.

The “road map” for peace, conceived in 2002 by Mr. Bush, had become a hindrance to the peace process, because the first requirement was that the Palestinians stop terrorist attacks.

As a result, every time there was a terrorist bombing, the peace process fell apart and went back to square one. Neither side ever began discussing the “core issues”: the freezing of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the rights of Palestinian refugees to return, the outline of Israel’s border and the future of Jerusalem.

“The reason that we haven’t really been able to move forward on the peace process for a number of years is that we were stuck in the sequentiality of the road map. So you had to do the first phase of the road map before you moved on to the third phase of the road map, which was the actual negotiations of final status,” Miss Rice said.

(emphasis added)

Let’s strip away the niceties and boil it down to its essence:

In 2002, the Road Map spelled out that before anything else could be done, the Palestinians had to stop killing Israelis.

Five years later, the rockets and sniper attacks and bombings have continued. The Palestinians, given the chance to reject terrorism, instead chose to wholeheartedly embrace it by electing Hamas by overwhelming margins. In brief, they’ve shown that they are completely and utterly dedicated to achieving their goals by violence, not negotiations.

And what is the response of the Bush administration?


In the long run, there is no single more important issue than that the Palestinians show that they are, indeed, interested in peace. That they are willing to reject violence and carnage and bloodshead and become civilized.

The whole point of the “road map” was to move the Palestinians and the Israelis away from fighting. To show them (mainly the Palestinians) that violence would NOT be rewarded, that the days of the old cycle were over.

Just to recap, here’s the cycle of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations:

1) International community leans on both sides (mainly Israel) to negotiate.

2) Negotiations commence.

3) Grand plan announced, with lofty aspirations and goals for both sides.

4) Israel is called upon to begin the process by making concessions.

4a) (Sometimes) Israel is called upon to make additional, non-negotiated concessions as “good faith” gestures. These usually involve releasing terrorists or giving up territory.

5) Palestinians complain that they can not keep their end of the bargain.

6) Israel announces that it won’t continue upholding its end until the Palestinians start upholding theirs.

7) New wave of terrorism hits Israel.

8) Israel says it’s done making concessions.

9) Everyone blames Israel for the “failure of the peace process.”

10) After a brief period, return to step 1 — but with Israel’s concessions from Step 4 now considered as the new “starting point.”

In this case, the commitment wrung from the Palestinians was the simplest imaginable: stop killing the Israelis. Or, at least, cut it back a bit.

They couldn’t even keep that simple commitment, and now the Bush administration wants to reward them for it.

So much for the Bush Doctrine, of not rewarding terrorism. And if Bush does push this through, his legacy will be precisely what he’s trying to avoid — Same Old Shit, just more dead innocents added to the pile.

Way to go, Mr. President. Way to go, Madame Secretary.

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