Tuesday, June 25, 2002

This AM on the radio, Palestinian official Ziad Abu Diad said something to the effect of "Bush's speech gives no hope to the Palestinian people; it gives us no place to start to achieve our state". The parts of the speech about democratization and halting the murder of Israeli civilians obviously didn't register with him. Arab MK/Arafat associate Ahmed Tibi told Israelis that the tough nature of the speech will just impel his Palestinian friends to kill us more - "The speech will just raise the level of violence on the ground", he said.

Interestingly, the Israeli left is also not enthusiastic about the speech. In my view, that's because the Left hasn't absorbed the message of the past 2 years, and still believes in a fast solution that involves Arafat. MK Haim Ramon, of Labour Party's left wing, says the speech shows that the US has no diplomatic direction. Camp David negotiator Shlomo Ben-Ami said that it's inconceivable that the Palestinians would replace Arafat as a consequence of the speech.

In a clear and convincing piece here, Barry Rubin says that the purpose of the Bush speech was mainly to "change the terms of reference" and show involvement. Regarding how the speech will sound to the Palestinians, Rubin writes:
And Bush's ideas will be so distorted that by the time they arrive at the doorstep of the Palestinian masses they will seem to be the worst type of imperialistic opposition to their aspirations. Most Palestinians, and especially Islamists and leftist groups like the PFLP and DFLP, will see this as a trap to force them to accept the 40 percent of the West Bank they now control as a permanent solution.

Second, it will be seen as a pull-back from the Camp David and Clinton plans which offered instant and full statehood as part of a peace plan. The idea that the Palestinians would not have to make any concessions on borders, Jerusalem and refugees in order to get an "interim state" is the kind of argument that sounds good in Washington but will not play in Ramallah. Opinion there, after all, is that the Palestinians should get full statehood, right now, without any concessions whatsoever.

Update: Not that long ago, the PA claimed that it was trying to stop terror attacks aimed at Israeli civilians (and the EU claimed to believe them).

Now Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman says that Bush "mixed up" the concepts of terrorism and resistance to Israeli occupation. That is to say: Rahman and the PA now endorse bus bombings and the like and are just a little careful with their language.

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