I have some addtional thoughts on Trunk’s post from earlier today regarding the piece about the Palestinians by Dennis Ross in today’s Washington Post:
In a world where Simon Peres, co-architect of the catastrophic Oslo accords, is back in the Israeli government, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Dennis Ross, Peres’ accomplice, still has a significant platform on which to tell us about peace “stirrings” within the breasts of Arafat’s successor. But surely it’s reasonable to consider the source. Ross thinks we should:
As someone who probably dealt with Yasser Arafat more than any non-Palestinian, I can safely say that Palestinian responsibility was never on his agenda.
Now you tell us, Dennis. Why on earth did you set the non-Palestinian record for time spent with Arafat when you knew that “Palestinian responsibility was never on his agenda?” Were you really asking (and pressuring) Israel to make major concessions in exchange for promises from a “peace partner” you knew thought the Palestinian side had no responsibility?
But, with Arafat gone, shouldn’t we be excited that many Palestinians are now saying that the violence they directed at Israel during the past few years was a “mistake?” Only, I think, if we find truisms exciting. The past few years of violence against Israel have resulted in another unmistakable defeat for the Palestinians. Israel has inflicted crushing damage on Palestinian terror organizations, virtually ended (for the moment) their ability to inflict damage on Israel, and disengaged from “peace” talks. So the defeated party wants to return to something like the Oslo model — new Israeli concessions in exchange for promises — but is unwilling, as Trunk noted, to take any action against those who wish to continue the violence.
What Ross never seems to understand is that, for the Palestinians, violence and “peace processes” are part of the same strategy. The Palestinians extract whatever concessions they can through negotiations, backed up by the threat of violence. When these concessions fall short of Palestinian goals, as they invariably do because the Palestinian goal is a final settlement that will pave the way for the destruction of Israel, they turn back to violence. If the violence fails and no negotiations are occurring, the Palestinians say what they think they need to say to get negotiations re-started.
But they always say it guardedly, relying on people like Ross to interpret their statements expansively. Thus Ross writes:
When I declared that there would be no Palestinian state born of violence — with the leading proponents of that violence sitting there — several Palestinians responded by saying that violence was a mistake and nothing would be achieved by it. What struck me about these comments was that there was no hesitancy to make them. With the opposition sitting there, with the entire conference being conducted in Arabic and televised throughout the Middle East, declaring that violence against the Israelis was wrong bore no stigma and apparently little risk.
But, by Ross’ account, the Palestinians didn’t say the violence was “wrong,” they said it was a “mistake.” A mistake that, presumably, they won’t repeat until the next time they aren’t getting everything they want from negotiations.