ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Conference to Nowhere

Conference to Nowhere

20 September 2007

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Despite all indications of its impending failure, the November Mideast peace conference, to be hosted by the US in Annapolis Maryland is going ahead as planned. US Sec. of State Rice is turning it into a regional affair, with great hopes of drawing in the Saudis, the Gulf States, Egypt, Jordan and possibly even Syria as supporters for a Palestinian – Israeli peace to be brokered by the Americans and seconded by the Quartet (composing the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN). Israel’s PM Ehud Olmert and Fatah’s Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) will be the stars of a show designated to implement the two-state solution by use of the much heralded “Road Map.”

The idea is to agree in principle on the major issues of the conflict and then figure out what means will reach that desired end. The major issues at hand are borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees. Under the best of circumstances, agreeing in principle on these four topics (and even using precedents from the past such as the Dec. 2000 Clinton Outline) will be extremely difficult.

However the conference is being held under some of the worst of circumstances. There is no chance of success for implementation as Abbas’s Fatah faction does not represent the Palestinians as they lost the January 2006 parliamentary elections to the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas in a landslide, including both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank Palestinian populations. In June 2007 Fatah with 22,000 men under arms was physically routed from Gaza by 6,000 Hamas gunmen. Abbas cannot deliver on anything he signs since he has no enforcement power even in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) where he established his emergency government devoid of Hamas representatives.

In Gaza Fatah barely exists as its erstwhile activists have fled, are fleeing, are in hiding, are in jail and/or now support the Hamas (see what a bit of “re-education” can do). Gaza is a Sunni Islamic state, even if not internationally recognized. The only reason the West Bank has not joined the Gaza Islamic state is because of the Israeli army presence. Should the IDF leave it would not take more than a few weeks for Hamas to claim total victory over Fatah. Abbas and Fatah have across the boards international support from everyone except the Islamists – and of course their own people. Here lies the great fallacy of even calling the conference. Israel should not negotiate with those who do not represent their constituency. Yes, Abbas won the presidency in January 2005, but he did not truly run against anyone since the Hamas did not post a candidate. He and his emergency government are not only deeply unpopular with Palestinians but the opposition Hamas and Islamic Jihad are making it clear his government is illegal and they will work for its overthrow. Let us face the truth, the Fatah led government is a fiction held up by Israel, the West and the liberal media.

Israel will have to be completely unrealistic to make in principle concessions to a Palestinian government which does not represent the Palestinian People of today who do not accept a two-state solution nor Israel’s legitimacy, meaning the national rights of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. Hamas represents the Palestinians and deny Israel’s right to exist.

The only redeeming feature of such an international gathering will be if other Arab leaders, especially from the Gulf States Saudi Arabia will meet with Israeli PM Olmert. That could either lend legitimacy to Israel or portray those who meet with him as traitors. Unfortunately, the latter will most likely be the reaction of the average man on the street in the Arab world.

So why have the conference? There is the old adage that “talking can’t hurt” but even worse there are those who believe that if the sides talk there will be less violence. One can rest assured we will be seeing the exact opposite as Hamas and the Jihad control the rocket and mortar fire coming out of Gaza along with most of the activist terror cells. There are others (like many on the Israel Left) who are convinced that a signed agreement whether adhered to or not by the Palestinians – meaning that Fatah and Abbas need not enforce anything (which they are incapable of in any case), is a worthy end in itself because it will be internationally binding. This supposedly will eliminate criticism of Israel should we need to continue the anti-terror war, an obvious given. The Israel Left seems to forget the knee-jerk anti-Israel front consistently attacks the Oslo Accords as one sided pro-Israel, designed to reduce the Palestinians to virtual serf status. Never mind that Yasir Arafat signed, took what he could and then engaged in a Low Intensity War followed by a terror offensive beginning in the year 2000.

Apparently the Americans need the conference, so we will go. Israel can deal with the façade and go through the motions, but no more. Anyone who believes concrete steps towards peace will result from this conference will be crushed by the reality of Palestinian politics and their ongoing civil war. At best there will be a photo-op. But that in itself may be quite positive as everyone can share the blame for the conference failure and of course it will represent a snapshot of the times, freezing another irrelevant Middle Eastern diplomatic moment in history.