HAVE THE PALESTINIANS REACHED A DEAD END ?
It is easy and partially correct to read President Bush's dramatic shift on Israeli settlements
as another election year tilt toward Israel, albeit a more consequential one than the usual aid package. On the other hand, I question whether the Palestinian political leadership composed mostly of Arafat's highly corrupt leftist gangsters and the Islamist extremists of HAMAS and Islamic Jihad have reached a historical dead end ? `
Justice makes a claim for a Palestinian state. The ideal solution to the Mideast would be two states, Israel and Palestine, both liberal and democratic, as part of a regional free trade organization or common market. However, politically there seems to be a creeping realization caused by Arafat's endless terrorism, intifada, corruption and intransigence that in essence, expending any effort to work with these people is worse than useless. They want a state and the " right " to commit terrorism and if forced to choose between the two the Palestinian leadership will choose terrorism every time. The Palestinian celebration of 9/11 stuck a raw nerve in this country; outside of leftist and anti-semitic circles the Palestinians are becoming identified erroneously in the public mind with al Qaida, Saddam and Hezbollah into a generic " enemy ". This is a shame because the PA is not a democracy and the average Palestinian has little control over the PA, still less over Hamas type extremists.
The objection can be made that Ariel Sharon is also an anti-Arab extremist, which is true and that Israeli settlements are a major obstacle to peace, also true. However, had the PA not launched it's suicide-bomber campaign against Israeli civilians, Sharon almost certainly never would have been elected and the PA might have reached a livable compromise with a Labor government. Not an ideal bargain for revanchist nationalists and Islamists but something that would have allowed both Palestinians and Israelis to live relatively normal lives in separate states.
Palestinians do not have the strength to wrest their demands by force. Their leaders have brought them into a diplomatic and moral blind alley and earned the hostility of the world's most powerful nation. What they need most now is a Mandela or a Gandhi, not an Arafat.