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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Let's hear Abbas' peace speech

First we heard what Barack Obama had to say about peace in the Middle East. Then we heard Binyomin Netanyahu's vision of peace.

But we have no idea what the Palestinian Arab vision of peace is.

We certainly know that it is utterly incompatible with Israel's:
A top Palestinian official dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy speech as “a zero” on Sunday.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said the speech was empty of any content and pointless.

He explained that the speech would impede any progress toward a balanced peace settlement. He said Netanyahu is "a swindler, a fraud, and a liar who makes up tricks [about] achievement of this peace."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he would not resume negotiations with Israel until all construction in the settlements is stopped.

Meanwhile, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said those who know the Israeli mentality should not be surprised to hear such a speech. He called on the Arab world to take the right stance toward the speech by freezing the Arab Peace Initiative.

All we hear is rejectionism.

It is obvious that the Americans and Israelis should be giving deep thought about peace, its parameters, its limitations and its potential.

So wouldn't it be reasonable to expect the Palestinian Arabs to describe their own, detailed vision of what a peace agreement would look like? Why wouldn't Abbas give a specific plan of how he envisions a peace agreement to work?

The reason is as simple as it is unpalatable to well-meaning Westerners. Palestinian Arab leaders have never wanted real peace with Israel. Their statements have made it abundantly clear that they regard any peace agreement as a temporary step in their quest to claim the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.

It is time to call their bluff. If they are going to criticize Netanyahu's plan, let them come up with their own plan that they consider realistic. Let us hear Abbas make a public policy statement at a university in the West Bank. If he refuses, perhaps the West will start to realize that he is not serious about peace. If his plan includes flooding Israel with millions of Arabs, if it includes the banning of Jews from visiting holy sites the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron and Bethlehem and Shechem, if it demands Israel's removing 100% of settlements, if it includes giving PalArabs the rights to fire missiles at Israeli civilian airliners - then the Western world might start to wake up to the fact that a peace process is stillborn without a peace partner who is willing to make compromises.

Abbas has already made clear that he feels no pressure to make any concessions as long as Obama is in office. He is happy to wait as long as it takes. Which means the last thing he wants to do is to make a public statement that could paint himself in a corner.

President Obama can go a long way towards the cause of real peace by demanding that Abbas put forth his plan, not in soundbites but in real detail, a plan that culminates in full relations between Israel and a Palestinian Arab state.

Because his plan would invariably show that he is not the "moderate" he is made out to be.