Pessimism over Annapolis
01 November 2007
Dear SirDear Sir, The latest round in the interminable saga known as ‘the Middle East peace process’ will soon descend upon us, courtesy of the proposed Annapolis peace conference. But can any sane person imagine that this will herald the end of the conflict? Certainly we can all agree that Palestinian life is miserable and that the status quo cannot continue. But if the Palestinian President’s signature is Israel’s best guarantee of security, this conference will be an exercise in futility. Abu Mazen remains adamant on the bogus ‘right of return’ for Palestinians, an absurdity given that this confers refugee status on 4 million people when only a tiny fraction ever left ‘Palestine.’ We know, and he knows, that implementing this right of return will lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish state. In this sense, he is little different to Yasser Arafat. But even if Mazen dropped this ludicrous claim, his commitment to a two- state solution would be fraught with problems. Hamas would ultimately view a peace settlement as an act of apostasy and exploit a heaven sent opportunity to weaken Israel further. And after the events of June, when Hamas overran Fatah in Gaza, Mazen can hardly posture as a reliable bulwark against Islamists. Were there to be a Hamas inspired coup in the West Bank, Israel would face Islamists on its Eastern, Western and Northern borders. Under these circumstances, the Arab peace pledges would be as worthwhile as Hitler’s signature on the Munich agreement. Abu Mazen is a man we can trust, so we are told. Why then has he failed to stop the ferocious anti-semitic incitement pouring out from Palestinian schools and newspapers? These are, after all, the engines of hatred that have bred a generation of malevolent suicide bombers. Is the President powerless to intervene, or is he merely indifferent? Neither answer seems palatable. But even if the Israelis had a serious peace partner, there remains the threat from Iran. We have ample evidence from the last year of how Iran’s terrorist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, can inflict grave and sustained damage on the Jewish state. In any military showdown with Iran, its fanatical president would hardly refrain from causing maximum havoc on every front possible, effectively scuppering any peace deal. As usual the optimists will hail Annapolis as a breakthrough for both sides. But until the Arab and Muslim parties address the root cause of this conflict, namely their own intransigent rejection of Jewish sovereignty in the region, this peace conference, like all the others, will grind to a halt.