How not to conduct a peace process

The Washington Post calls on President Bush to “face down” Ariel Sharon, claiming that Sharon’s failure to make concessions has caused the latest “peace process” to stall. The Post concedes that, on the Palestinian side, Abu Mazen has failed to take the decisive action against terrorists that is supposed to be the pre-condition for Israeli concessions. But the Post excuses this failure, citing the “formidable opposition not only of extremist groups, but of his nominal partner, Yasser Arafat.”
The Post’s editorial exemplifies an approach that would render the current “peace process,” like the ones that came before it, essentially fraudulent. Under this approach, Palestinian failures to abandon terrorism are excused on the theory that the peace faction lacks the power to live up to its end. In fact, not only are Palestinian failures thus excused, but this theory becomes the rationale for insisting that Israel make more concessions, so that the Palestinian leaders allegedly seeking peace (yesterday Arafat, today Mazen) can gain support. The key insight by President Bush that was supposed to make the current peace initiative different is that peace cannot be attained until Palestinian society undergoes the kind of reforms under which its leaders can be held accountable, and thus perhaps become real “peace partners.” President Bush should not undermine his own insight by becoming a party to the game of bait and switch advocated by the Washington Post and, no doubt, the U.S. State Department.

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