What a fly on the wall might have heard during Mideast talks
By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The current Washington “peace talks” have less chance of producing either a Palestinian state or legitimacy and security for Israel than even their previous editions.
Mahmoud Abbas isn’t Arafat.
Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist with political support from Turkey and weapons from Iran. Hamas and Iran are willing to mix Sunni and Shiite fundamentalist orthodoxies in the name of their greater enemies – Israel and Fatah. Turkey is stirring the pot.
The Arab states are not interested in Palestine and want Israel to do something about their priority – Iran.
Egypt’s ailing President Hosni Mubarak did not drag himself to Washington on behalf of a Palestinian state, but on behalf of his son Gamal.
King Abdullah’s already minority position in his kingdom shrinks daily and there are calls to oust Palestinians lest they build a mini-State in Jordan as they did in Lebanon.
Prime Minister Netanyahu isn’t Prime Minister Barak.
Senator Mitchell said there is a “window of opportunity” now. With due respect, it is not a window but trompe l’oeil – the French decorating trick that “fools the eye” by drawing outdoor scenery on solid walls. Which is not to say nothing interesting is happening.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spent an hour-and-a-half in private with Mahmoud Abbas yesterday. A fly on the wall might have heard the following:
Abbas: Don’t leave me. An Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank will have Hamas taking over within weeks – or less. They threw my troops out of Gaza, they’re torturing and murdering Fatah supporters and shutting down Internet cafes. Hamas killed four of your people this week on the West Bank; they don’t like my people any better.
Netanyahu: Five; they killed five. One of the women was nine months pregnant. You might have noticed that we removed 140 roadblocks and eight central checkpoints in 2008 and another 27 checkpoints and 140 roadblocks in 2009 – because you keep whining about them. Do you think that had anything to do with missing those Hamas guys? In the meantime, could you stop telling your children that we put Palestinian children in ovens and we killed Mickey Mouse?
Abbas: That was Hamas.
Netanyahu: OK, whatever. You built the museum glorifying the Sbarro pizzeria bombing. Israel is a legitimate, sovereign, Jewish country. Get over it.
Abbas: Will you stop harping on that “legitimacy” thing? I’ve got the same problem with Hamas – they don’t think I’m any more legitimate than you are. If I give up a major card – your legitimacy, your Jewishness, your rights, your borders – Hamas will make me a laughingstock with my own people; a dead laughingstock.
Netanyahu: You keep calling them “your people.” You didn’t have an election in 2009 because you were afraid you would lose. We call a person who rules without a mandate a dictator. Who are your people and how do you know?
Abbas: I know this – I’m the one on the hot seat and you don’t want what comes after me. I also know that I used to be able to find some space between the Americans and Hamas so I could call myself a moderate between the extreme pro- and anti-Israel factions. That’s how I stayed alive. But with President Obama demanding a “total” settlement freeze and that I declare an independent state in less than two years, I’m being squeezed between two radicals.
Netanyahu: We agree. And don’t worry – I’m not leaving you and your American-trained army without Israeli supervision.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.