The Post-Annapolis Blame Game

Less than a week after the Annapolis conference and even before serious peace talks officially begin on Dec. 12, Michael Shaik, the public advocate for Australians for Palestine, and Antony Loewenstein, co-founder the Independent Australian Jewish Voices, provide a distorted commentary on why the peace process appears doomed to failure.

Writing in the Australian newspaper, The Age, Shaik and Loewenstein ignore the Palestinian Authoritys weakness and inability to implement their agreements, particularly in the area of security, as a factor in the peace talks. In fact, they write, the Palestinians have already demonstrated a commitment to Israels security and done everything Israel demands.

“The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had agreed to all of Israel’s preconditions for negotiations by dissolving the Palestinian government of national unity, closing down more than 100 Hamas affiliated charities and sending Palestinian security forces into Nablus to liquidate the resistance cells that have held out against the Israeli army for the last seven years.”

Actually, Israels only real demands were a crackdown on Palestinian terror groups and recognition that Israel is a Jewish state. Abbas has done neither. Almost immediately after returning from Annapolis, he began repeating his stance that the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The PA has also begun asserting control over some of their cities, but Palestinian security chiefs have made it clear that the real objectives are an end to the anarchy sweeping the Palestinian areas, not Israels security. In other words, the security crackdown is meant to prevent Hamas from violently taking control of the West Bank as it did in the Gaza Strip.

Throughout the piece, Shaik and Loewenstein accuse Israel of numerous offenses against the Palestinians, including the problems facing the Gaza Strip.

“Factories throughout the Gaza Strip have been forced to close due to Israel’s five month blockade, giving rise to an unemployment rate of 50%. According to the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights, hospitals in Gaza are being forced to operate without essential medicines, medical equipment, electricity and even such basics as toilet paper and cleaning materials.”

However, they fail to mention that Israel withdrew entirely from the Gaza Strip in 2005, paving the way for the Palestinians to prove they are capable of living side-by-side with Israel in peace. Instead, the Palestinians continue to fire rockets and mortars into Israel from the vacated territory, leading to heightened Israeli security. Shaik and Lowenstein also ignore Israels concern for the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where all the essentials continue to enter the territory despite claims of a “blockade.”

By ignoring the Palestinian contribution to the current state of hostility with Israel, Shaik and Loewenstein present a distorted picture. Naturally, their view leaves little hope for success in the peace process. And if it does, indeed, collapse, the finger of blame is already pointing directly at Israel.

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Philadelphia Inquirer cartoonist Tony Auth brings back the tired, old “cycle of violence” chestnut for the post-Annapolis era. But there is no cycle of violence in the Israels conflict with the Palestinians. Every conflict has causes, as Charles Krauthammer wrote last year:

“What is so remarkable about the current wave of violence in Gaza is that the event at the origin of the “cycle” is not at all historical, but very contemporary. The event is not buried in the mists of history. It occurred less than one year ago. Before the eyes of the whole world, Israel left Gaza. Every Jew, every soldier, every military installation, every remnant of Israeli occupation was uprooted and taken away.

How do the Palestinians respond?…On the very day of Israel’s final pullout, the Palestinians began firing rockets out of Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border.”

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