Tuesday, April 22, 2003
You know, it's starting to look really possible that the "road map" is never going to get released. If Abu Mazen really refuses to become PM because of Arafat's interference - and specifically Arafat's refusal to approve the disarmament of the Fatah-affiliated terrorist groups like the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - how can anyone credibly assert that "reform" has taken place in the P.A.? And absent any real reform, how can the Quartet promulgate their "road map" for a settlement?
Of course, if the Quartet were determined to hand the P.A. a victory regardless of the circumstances, as no doubt Jacques Chirac would prefer, then yes, they certainly could promulgate whatever they like under whatever circumstances they like. But Bush has no intention of participating in a scheme to rehabilitate Arafat. I have no doubt that, along with all other American Presidents since Truman, Bush favors a peaceful settlement of the conflict based on territorial compromise in the Land of Israel. He's gone on record as supporting the creation of a Palestinian State, following the lead of the last Israeli Labor government and alongside the current Likud government, whose PM has similarly voiced support for such a state. But Bush has been no less - rather, more - unequivocal in his rejection of Arafat for his duplicity and his involvement in terrorism since 1999. Blair, meanwhile, more forcefully supports a settlement that he would consider just in view of Palestinian claims, but he also has no intention of being played for a fool. Even Joschka Fischer is not a heartfelt enemy of Israel, nor a confirmed cynic like his boss. I find it very hard to believe that these fellows really intend to reward Arafat for spitting in their faces. I still think that kind of self-abasement is reserved for the Swedes.
Anyhow, we'll see soon enough.