The Freeman's Burden:

To defend the principles of human liberty; to educate; to be vigilant against the ever expanding power of the state.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Abbas gamble

The new Palestinian leader knew he would have his hands full when he took over last month, but Mahmoud Abbas has been doing what Arafat never had the courage to do. Yesterday Abbas fired three Palestinian military leaders who were also sacred cows of the Arafat era in response to a militant mortar attack on Jewish settlers. Today Abbas joined talks with militants in an effort to rein them in and abide by the terms of the recent cease fire. Abbas is walking a fine line between ensuring the interests of the Palastinians, the militants, the Israelis and the Americans. It would do the cause, as well as opinion in the Arab world, a great service if the Israelis and the Americans would take concrete steps to show the Palestinians and the militants that placing their faith in Abbas is a winning cause. The U.S. could do something brilliant such as suspending all military support for Israel until such a time as a final peace is implemented. As a practical matter, Israel is militarily set. They don't need more missiles, helicopters or trainers in the next year. They have been the biggest beneficiary of the war in Iraq, they owe us this. It would create the perception that America is being even-handed and putting tangible pressure on Israel to give the Palestinians their freedom. It costs little and offers a huge pay-off, the end of the perception of America as the agent of Israeli suppression of Muslims in Palestine that leads to horrible images and terrible P.R. in the Arab world. It also gives Abbas the chance to bargain with the militants from a position of having a dynamic policy that is taking pressure off of the Palestinians and ratcheting down the conflict. Read more about Abbas and the politicking inside the Palestinian Authority here.


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