The Daily Star (Editorial)
May 1, 2008 - 5:25pm

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unwittingly demonstrated much of what ails the Palestinian-Israeli peace process on Tuesday. In a speech to the American Jewish Committee in Washington, she proffered a laundry list of reasons why time is running out for a two-state solution - and each of them is a direct result of failed US policy.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this was her contention that Hamas and the Iranian support it enjoys are potentially insurmountable obstacles to peace. For all its controversial activities and positions, the same group has repeatedly issued offers of a cease-fire which Israel has summarily rejected, or tacitly accepted and then undermined via assassination and other forms of aggression. It remains to be seen whether the latest overture, brokered by Egypt and also endorsed by several other Palestinian resistance organizations, will be brushed aside or violated, but the Israelis' track record on this score is not encouraging.

Rice likes to peddle Palestinian infighting as an impediment to the peace process, but she and her boss, President George W. Bush, have exacerbated differences between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction at every turn. They have colluded in (among other things) the Israeli military's destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, its strangulation of the economy in the Occupied West Bank, its siege of the Gaza Strip, and its incessant attacks and other provocations in both regions. Each of these has served to undermine Abbas, who has thrown his lot in with the Americans and tried to convince his people that they can believe Washington is serious about wanting them to have a state. Each of these transgressions has also served to bolster Hamas' domestic position. In fact, the only occasion on which Bush has not completely abandoned Abbas came when Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 elections and the Americans joined the Israelis in an ugly campaign aimed at negating the wishes of the Palestinian people.

The White House has also abetted the Israelis in a strategy of shifting goalposts, making it ever impossible for the "next stage" of the peace process to get under way. Abbas' police, for instance, are expected to prevent resistance activities by militants despite continuing Israeli attacks that make negotiations look like a Trojan horse and open him to accusations of naivety - or worse.

Rice is right: Talks as a means of ending the occupation are losing credibility, especially among younger Palestinians. But this trend will only accelerate unless the Bush administration finally seeks - and accepts - an honest reason as to why this is so.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017