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Take a step back...

Reader comment on item: Which Way Will Abbas Go?

Submitted by Tough Call (United States), Jan 15, 2005 at 16:12

There is a simple, fundamental problem with such analyses. Any Arab leader who truly wants peace and believes in peace can only declare as such from a position of strength. Sadat couldn't have made the peaceful overture to Israel until/unless he was firmly in control.

Given (a) today's sad state of Palestinian society and (b) the reality that Palestinian "cause" is simply a proxy for the larger war where the strings are all pulled from Tehran and Damascus, a new Palestinian leader who truly believed AND spoke of peace with Israel right now wouldn't be especially interesting or relevant--since he'd quickly be murdered. Today neither Abbas, nor any other potential Palestinian leader, has a strong enough hand or base to shut down the terrorist forces that rule Palestinian life.

Of course this is a dangerous game, and the hope/bet that Arafat was one potential "strong man" who really wanted peace--another Sadat--was a failure. But it's too soon to tell with Abbas. This could be a part of a longer-term scheme to build up support and a base before moving more explicitly toward a peaceful stance with Israel. Or not. But it's a little bit melodramatic to expect anything else from a leader that Israel and the US wants to see stay alive long enough to make a real difference.
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