The Line Between Wishful Thinking and Delusion…

…is sometimes hard to draw, but what is being said about the upcoming Israeli-Palestinian talks in Annapolis is beyond delusional. The appalling Ehud Olmert sets the stage:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he may be able to make peace with the Palestinians by the end of 2008 as the United States vowed to defend Israel’s security during the difficult process.
“If we act decisively together, we and the Palestinians, there is a chance for us to reach real achievements, maybe even before the end of President (George W.) Bush’s term,” he said at the Saban Forum think-tank in Jerusalem.

Sure, peace by the end of 2008! This is just what we don’t need: another American President looking for a “legacy” in the Middle East. Olmert digs himself in deeper:

“There is no intention to drag out the negotiations without end. There is no reason to again hit the foot-dragging that characterised our talks in the past,” the premier said.

Foot-dragging? What foot-dragging? At Oslo, Israeli diplomats raced to give away the store, and a lot of good it did them. Let’s not confuse “foot-dragging” with the genocidal patience with which the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters have plotted the destruction of Israel for two generations.
AFP, the source of this particular news story, shares with other news agencies an odd incuriosity about the recent history of the region:

The two sides plan to launch intensive bilateral talks on a permanent agreement following the international meeting, aimed at reviving a peace process that has been dormant for seven years.

Gosh! Why has the “peace process” been “dormant” for seven years? I suppose AFP meant to tie this “dormancy” to the seven years that President Bush has been in office. In reality, however, the “peace process” is dormant because the Palestinians have failed to live up to any of the commitments they made in Oslo, and instead have continued to murder Israelis with rockets and suicide bomb belts.
Not to worry, though: this time, the U.S. stands squarely behind Israel:

At the same event US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed to defend Israel as it pushes ahead with the peace process, saying that it was time for all sides to make the difficult decisions necessary for a lasting peace.
“All Israelis should be confident that America is fully behind you, that we are fully committed to your security and that you can thus be bold in your pursuit of peace,” she said.

Let’s see: just how committed is the U.S. to Israel’s security? Are we prepared to deal with Iran’s mullahs? Or, more to the point, how exactly are we going to protect Israel’s pizza parlors and taverns from mass murder, or its soldiers from cross-border raids? Does anyone believe that we have any intention of doing anything concrete–even assuming that we have the ability to do anything concrete–to stop terrorist attacks against Israel?
Of course, as we are so often warned, failure to achieve “peace” now could have dire consequences:

Rice, on her eighth visit to the region since the beginning of the year, warned that if peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians flounder, extremists would take over the Palestinian leadership.
“If we do not act now to show the Palestinians a way forward, others will show them a way forward,” Rice said. “Failure is simply not an option.”

What? “Extremists” might “take over the Palestinian leadership”? But when have the Palestinians ever been led by anyone who was not an extremist? Was arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat not an “extremist”? No, wait, I forgot his Nobel Peace Prize. Are Fatah and Hamas not extremist groups? If advocacy of genocide over a period of decades does not make one an extremist, what does?
Among the many obvious problems with the Annapolis conference is that the currently-ascendant Palestinian gang, Hamas, won’t participate:

The Islamist movement Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since a bloody takeover in which security forces loyal to Abbas were defeated nearly five months ago, has also rejected the conference.

Of what value to Israel, or to “world peace,” can an agreement be that leaves out the key belligerent? Even assuming, of course, that there is any reason to think that Hamas, or any other terrorist group, would abide by such an “agreement.”
Nevertheless, despite these obvious problems, a “settlement” in the Middle East remains, for some, tantalizingly easy to visualize:

Special Middle East envoy Tony Blair nevertheless insisted that despite the differences between Israel and the Palestinians, everyone involved in the negotiations knows what a final agreement will look like.
“The irony is the final settlement is not hard to see. It is visible in the distance, the house on the hill. But the path to it is utterly fraught,” he said.

The obvious “final settlement” is land for peace. But why is this “solution” so “fraught”? Because it is easy to give up land, but peace, somehow, never follows. What a puzzle!
The extent of Palestinian chutzpah, notwithstanding the continuous disaster that the Palestinians’ leaders have brought about for more than a half century, is breathtaking:

The Palestinians have asked that Rice put more pressure on Israel, insisting that Israeli security will only come with a larger political settlement.

Or, put more bluntly: Give us what we want or we’ll kill you! Does Secretary Rice not notice that this is a less than propitious basis for diplomatic negotiations? More:

“The statements of some Israeli officials that consider Israeli security more important than the establishment of a Palestinian state hinder an agreement,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

This claim, unlike most that we hear from the Palestinians, is actually true. It would be far easier to reach an “agreement” if Israelis were not concerned about their “security,” i.e., preventing the Palestinians from committing mass murder against Israeli citizens. How can they be so selfish? That is, actually, what the international press wonders.
And, finally, the ultimate folly:

“The establishment of a Palestinian state is what will guarantee the security and stability of the whole region,” he added.

This is sheer insanity. Why on earth would establishing a “Palestinian state,” assuming that would be materially different from the currently disgraceful condition of the Palestinians, “guarantee the security and stability of the whole region?” What possible effect would a Palestinian state have on Iran’s regional and global ambitions; on the conflicts that beset Iraq; on Syria’s nuclear ambitions or its desire to control Lebanon; on al Qaeda’s campaign to drive “infidels,” a category that includes pretty much everyone, from the Middle East and ultimately from the planet; on Turkey’s concerns about its Kurdish minority; or on any of the other conflicts that make the Middle East a perilous region? The answer is, no effect whatsoever. This is, really, the defining fantasy of our time: the idea that giving the Palestinians a “state” will magically cure the dysfunctional and dangerous condition into which the Arab world, and much of the Muslim world, has fallen.
As always at such events, fantasy will be much in evidence in Annapolis.
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