Peace plan won't work, think tank says
ABC (Australia): PM
Translations of this item:
PAUL LOCKYER: One of America's most outspoken critics of past Middle East peace deals is pessimistic about the ability of the Palestinian Authority to control violence in the wake of the proclaimed ceasefire.
Dr Daniel Pipes is the director of the think tank the Middle East Forum and was nominated by President George W. Bush to the United States Institute of Peace in 2003.
Dr Pipes says the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is playing for time by agreeing to the ceasefire because it hasn't given up the idea of destroying Israel.
Daniel Pipes is speaking to Hamish Fitzsimmons.
DANIEL PIPES: The new leadership on the Palestinian side is saying violence hasn't worked, terrorism has been counterproductive, we are going backwards rather than forwards as a result of it, so it's time to stop it.
In other words it's a tactical decision, and it's a correct tactical decision, but it's merely a tactical decision, it's not saying that we accept Israel and we're going to live in harmony with Israel. It's saying violence at this time is counterproductive.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: But given the rapidity that this deal was reached after Mr Abbas gaining control over the Palestinian Authority, do you think that signals that he is serious about peace?
DANIEL PIPES: He is serious. He has been talking for two-and-a-half years about the need to end the violence, and so it's not surprising that he's made this his first priority. Whether he can actually clamp down on violence is one question, and then what his purposes are is another question.
I believe his purpose is in order to get more benefits from the Israelis in order to be stronger to fight them later on. I mean, it's purely tactical.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Is your sense of pessimism shared by many in the US, and particularly in the Bush administration?
DANIEL PIPES: No, there is a widespread feeling of elation that the logjam has broken, Arafat is out of the way, there's real progress.
In other words, the consensus approach is that the Palestinians have accepted Israel, and now it's just a matter of getting the circumstances correct, getting the mood right, getting the deals in place, and everything will follow.
And my conclusion from the Oslo round of diplomacy between 1993 and 2000 is that it's a more profound problem. In other words, the general view is that Oslo didn't work. Everyone agrees it didn't work. But the reasons are rather superficial – Arafat's personality, not paying enough attention to public opinion, Israelis increasing their presence on the West Bank.
But I don't see those as so important. I see what really is important is a reluctance on the Palestinian side to give up the long-held dream of destroying Israel.
PAUL LOCKYER: Middle East commentator Daniel Pipes speaking to Hamish Fitzsimmons.
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