Eye on the Middle East Nov/Dec 2010

Here in the United States, citizens are befuddled about the meaning of the word illegal. A dictionary informs us it means “not according to or authorized by law.” Which says to most people, if you commit an illegal act, law enforcement will apprehend you or, as in the case of today’s illegal immigrants, deport you from the country.

However, in the lexicon of the politically correct, illegal doesn’t necessarily mean “illegal.” Finding a hole in a border fence or swimming the Rio Grande from Mexico without being caught may give one all the rights and privileges honest immigrants have earned by slogging through the citizenship process to become bona fide Americans.

The same word game comes into play regarding the heralded “no preconditions” mantra that Western politicians, Israeli negotiators, and Palestinian counterparts quote as they consider how to solve the thorny problems on the path-way to Middle East peace.

Whenever Washington, the Quartet (UN, U.S., EU, and Russia), or others pressure the Israelis and Palestinians to show up for pleasantries, photo-op grins, and handshakes, it is solely for the purpose of etching the appearance of progress—whether such is the case or not. And, more often than not, the participants already anticipate the impending failure and insignificant movement on substantive issues. Whatever the reality, what counts is an image creating the impression of forward motion.

And why, you may ask, are we so brash as to question the legitimacy of the banter regarding no preconditions?Because the idea of no-precondition negotiations is fantasy. Here’s evidence, as reported by IMRA (Independent Media Review Analysis).

On August 22, Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, delivered a message from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Quartet relating to meetings planned for September. In Erekat’s and Abbas’s dictionary, the words no preconditions actually mean the following nonnegotiable conditions:

  1. Peace with Israeli settlements is not an option. All settlement activity must stop.
  2. The shortest way to peace is to end all “Israeli occupation” of all territory Israel captured since June 4, 1967.
  3. The Golan Heights, Lebanese territories, and East Jerusalem must be surrendered.
  4. Talks must be predicated on the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  5. Final-status issues must include the return of Arab “refugees” and release of all prisoners and bodies of the “martyrs” as an “entry point” to ending the conflict.

In a world that no longer understands the meaning of illegal and no-precondition negotiations, one must wonder if words any longer mean more than what those who recraft them to their advantage want them to mean.

Two conclusions are appropriate. First, America’s illegals will somehow be jury-rigged into permanent, legal status to benefit politicians vying for new constituencies.

Second, no-precondition negotiations will never become a reality. The term seems rigged to regale the international movers and shakers who seek acclaim as paragons of a Middle East peace, albeit one that will be neither a true nor lasting solution for Israelis or Palestinians.

In the end, a two-state solution, although a much-fondled objective, has no means available with which to cobble it together. Truth is, the Palestinians, as well as radicals in the Arab world, have no interest in two states living side by side in peace. Their oft-stated determination to take everything remains on the table.

Radical Islam’s goal is Israel’s surrender; Israel’s determination is to survive. And for the foreseeable future, the twain is not about to meet. But for the time being, the illusion of progress is an irresistible siren call, as are the photo ops.

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