- Last week the New York Times headlined an interview: "Abbas Declares War With Israel Effectively Over." What Abbas actually said was that the war with Israel would be over "when the Israelis declare that they will comply with the agreement I made in Sharm el-Sheik." In other words, at best it was a conditional termination of hostilities. Declaring the "end of conflict" is a Palestinian concession that they are keeping up their sleeves for permanent status negotiations.
- The Roadmap for Peace, to which the Bush administration has committed itself, is explicit in demanding that the Palestinians offer an "unconditional" cease-fire - and not a truce that is dependent on how they interpret Israel's response. In Arabic, the truce Abbas is declaring is not even called a cease-fire but rather a "calm."
- According to the road map, moreover, the Palestinian Authority is supposed to begin to "dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism." The Palestinian leadership has made clear that it is not intending to go this far. But for a Palestinian cease-fire offer to be more than just words, this minimal road map standard still needs to be met.
- Everyone hopes that Abbas is able to lead to a new era of relations with Israel. But this will happen only if the world holds him to his agreements to implement what he still has to do and doesn't prematurely feed him with a public relations advantage that he does not deserve.
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