What is so difficult to understand about the Middle East that Western diplomats and politicians continue to play with scenarios that have no hope of succeeding? The so-called "road map" created out of wishful thinking by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations states there must be two prerequisites before Israel relinquishes more land. One is that the Palestinian side must forswear violence, and the other is that the infrastructure that produces the violence must be dismantled. Neither has even begun to happen.
Quite the opposite.
This does not deter the wishful thinkers, however, including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon has announced a unilateral withdrawal of forces protecting Jewish "settlers" in Gaza, a strip of land Israel seized from Egypt when Egyptian forces used it to invade Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Partly, the announcement is for domestic political reasons. Sharon is involved in a bribery scandal investigation. Some believe a withdrawal might "pressure" Yasser Arafat and his band of serial killers to respond by eschewing terror.
Those who believe such things haven't been paying attention to history. Arafat doesn't give. He takes. That's because his objective differs mightily from everyone else's. The West thinks a formula can be constructed that will, in the words of Secretary of State Colin Powell, help the Palestinians realize the "legitimate aspirations" of a state of their own. What Powell and so many others will not recognize is that Palestinian aspirations are for a state that replaces Israel, not one that co-exists with it.
Reaction to the wall Israel is building to protect itself from encroachment by homicide bombers and others interested in its destruction is only the latest evidence that Arafat and company remain a threat and have no intention of modifying their objectives. If their plans have changed from regular incursions into Israeli territory for the purpose of killing civilians, why would they oppose a wall?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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