Efraim Karsh: After Annapolis

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[Hat tip Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs]

After Annapolis: What Chance for Agreement with Abbas and the PLO?

Efraim Karsh

  • In reality, there is no fundamental difference between the ultimate goals of Hamas and the PLO vis-à-vis Israel: Neither accepts the Jewish state’s right to exist and both are committed to its eventual destruction. The only difference between the two groups lies in their preferred strategies for the attainment of this goal.
  • Whereas Hamas concentrates exclusively on “armed struggle,” the PLO has adopted since the early 1990s a more subtle strategy, combining intricate political and diplomatic maneuvering with sustained terror attacks. In the candid words of Farouq Qaddoumi, the PLO’s perpetual foreign minister: “We were never different from Hamas. Hamas is a national movement. Strategically, there is no difference between us.”
  • Such attitudes are commonplace among supposed moderates, notably Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Arafat’s successor and perhaps the foremost symbol of supposed Palestinian moderation. For all their drastically different personalities and political style, Arafat and Abu Mazen are warp and woof of the same fabric: dogmatic PLO veterans who have never eschewed their commitment to Israel’s destruction and who have viewed the “peace process” as the continuation of their lifetime war by other means.
  • By categorically refusing to recognize Israel’s Jewishness, the Palestinian leadership has effectively rejected the two-state solution, based, in the words of the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947, on the creation of “independent Arab and Jewish States” in Palestine.
  • In his Annapolis address, Abbas insisted that “the plight of Palestinian refugees…must be addressed…in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” Yet Resolution 194 (passed on December 11, 1948) puts the return of Palestinian refugees on a par with the “resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees” in other countries; indeed, that provision made the resolution anathema to the Arab states, which opposed it vehemently and voted unanimously against it because the measure was seen, correctly, as establishing no absolute “right of return.”
  • To deny the depth of the PLO’s commitment to Israel’s destruction is the height of folly, and to imagine that it can be appeased through Israeli concessions is to play into its hands. Only when Palestinians reconcile themselves to the existence of the Jewish state and eschew their genocidal hopes will the inhabitants of the Holy Land, and the rest of the world, be able to look forward to a future less burdened by Arafats and their gory dreams.

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