Though Israelis still haven’t figured out who exactly won their parliamentary elections, the rest of the world isn’t waiting for the dust to settle before weighing in on the results.
At Time magazine, correspondent Tony Karon isn’t content with merely lamenting Israeli voters’ rejection of the failed policies of their left-wing parties — that being the theme of a piece published yesterday in Time, headlined “Israel’s Election Dashes Hope for Peace.” The fallacious assumption behind the story is that there was credible hope for peace, given the fact that Palestinians have opted for leaders and policies that made rejection of peace the centerpiece of their culture. The collapse of the Israeli left was engineered by the Palestinian rejection of a two-state solution at Camp David in July 2000, which was followed by Yasser Arafat’s decision to resort to a terrorist offensive known popularly as the second intifada. Rather than taking the Israelis’ “yes” for an answer, Arafat responded with war. The intifada eroded the political appeal of those Israeli parties linked to the Oslo process. The election’s result was the culmination of this erosion of trust in the Israeli Left.
This is an important fact to remember, especially since Karon predicts that the Palestinians’ next move will be to try to play the same card now. According to Karon, the “moderate” Palestinians of Fatah are envious of Hamas’s success in using terrorist missile attacks to force Israel into dealing with it. He believes they think more bloodshed will prompt President Obama to force Israel to its knees”
“Jump starting” an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, then, or simply preventing a further deterioration of the situation, will demand a massive effort and some new thinking on the part of the Obama administration. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, progress would, in fact, require a readiness by Obama to do something no U.S. administration since that of President George H. W. Bush has done: throw Washington’s weight behind positions at odds with those of the Israeli government. And few Palestinians are betting on Obama turning up the heat on Israel. Instead, they’re more likely to try and do so themselves.
It is therefore imperative that Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell disabuse the Palestinians of any illusions about America’s willingness to take down the Jewish State. The administration must make it crystal clear to Fatah as well as to Hamas, that a new terrorist offensive will bring them no diplomatic dividends. For all their talk of promoting peace, if Obama, Mitchell, and Secretary of State Clinton fail to warn the Palestinians that such a tactic will fail, then they will have to bear some of the responsibility for the deaths that will follow.