Wednesday, January 18, 2006

With negotiations like these, who needs surrender? 

Haaretz is running the scoop on Abbas' moderate position under the headline Abbas says he is open to peace negotiations with Israel:

"We will not hesitate to get into such a negotiation," Abbas said. "The way to peace is to sit together at the negotiation table, not the path of killings and unilateral actions."
Hey, as long as negotiations practically by definition can't involve a single Palestinian concession or even counter-offer, why not? Who doesn't want to negotiate the victor's surrender? The worst that can happen to Abbas is a few White House visits followed by an angry denunciation of Israeli intransigence several percent of the West Bank later.

Despite my unrelenting negativity, of course I would like it if all this peace, love and understanding coming from Abbas could amount to something other than Israel's chasing the dollar bill on the string a few more meters down the street. I'm just not sure Abbas has the leverage to deliver any compromises, even if his moderation were as much bite as bark.

He did, however, make one statement that was a good sign with regard to Hamas:

"It is not their right to participate in political life and maintain militias," he said. "There should be no one armed beyond the law."
I doubt whether Abbas' resolve in this issue is going to convince Hamas to agree with him -- at least not until Hamas is the law -- but this is a precondition before an improvement in Palestinian society is possible.

As cynical as I am, I do wish Abbas well in his efforts to civilize Hamas. But not enough to risk helping him since he will probably insist it requires sending Fatah more weapons.

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