With whom would Israel be making binding agreements? Since a bitter civil conflict in 2007, Palestinian society has been divided. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, and the PA controls the West Bank. Just last month, the Palestinian Authority canceled scheduled municipal elections for fear that Hamas might again triumph at the polls as they did in 2006. Hamas and Fatah thugs continue to target and assassinate one another. By standing up the wobbly Abbas and perhaps even signing a treaty with him, the Obama administration may imagine that they can strengthen him. But this is a figure so unsure of his current standing with his people - and this is before making any unpopular concessions - that he canceled elections.
Abbas' weakness in this regard is not so much a personal failing as an inheritance. The entire Arab world (and Iran) has conspired to embitter and enrage the Palestinian people in perpetuity, encouraging maximalist demands and enshrining bloodshed and frenzied hatred.
Though Abbas has shaken hands all around in Washington, D.C., the incitement at home continues. A year ago, at Fatah's general congress in Bethlehem, the delegates reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to "armed struggle" as "a strategy, not a tactic ... This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated."
Just this week, the Palestinian Authority's minister for prisoners affairs presented an award called the Shield of Resoluteness and Giving to Um Yousuf Abu Hamid. Her accomplishment? Four of her sons are serving long sentences in Israeli prisons for committing terrorist attacks. Handing her the plaque, the minister intoned, "The Palestinian mother is a central partner in the struggle, by virtue of what she has given and continues to give. It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor."
A Palestinian children's television program instructs its viewers that all Israeli cities - including Haifa, Lod, Ramle, and Acre -- are "occupied Palestinian" cities. Another show aimed at children, which often dispenses advice like "drink your milk" and "obey your parents," also advised a young viewer named Saraa that "all Jews must be erased from our land ... "We want to slaughter them, Saraa, so they will be expelled from our land ... we'll have to (do it) by slaughter."
This latest iteration of Israeli/Palestinian peace talks midwived by the U.S. is doomed just as all of its predecessors were - because it is based on a fallacy and a stubborn refusal to face the truth about Palestinian society.