Well, on Aug. 19, Abbas was in negotiations with leaders of Islamic Jihad at the very moment the bus bomb went off. Clearly, he is powerless to stop actual violence. So what’s the point of Israel or the United States involving him in peace talks? Until Abbas can convince those who are carrying out violence to stop, any agreement he signs is meaningless. It would be nothing more than words on paper -- words we know Abbas can’t back up.
After the attacks, Abbas apparently decided he ought to do something about terrorism. On Aug. 20, Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Elias Zananiri told CNN the terrorists “have decided to change the rules of the game. The Palestinian National Authority will act accordingly.” Again, good words. Let’s wait to see if they’re followed up by actions, or if they are just so much hot air.
Why should we wait? Because it’s not clear the Palestinian people really even want peace with Israel? The New York Times reported that, after the Jerusalem attack, “fireworks burst over Hebron as Palestinians there celebrated the bombing.”
“Celebrated.” The attack killed 20 people and injured more than 130. Many of the victims were children. Yet many Palestinians saw it as an occasion for celebration. Meanwhile, their leaders still spout meaningless rhetoric about cease-fires and peace processes.
If we want the Israelis and Palestinians to be serious about a “peace process,” we’d better make sure there really is such a process in place before we talk about it, because simply talking about it and wishing for it won’t make it happen.
In fact, pretending there really is a “peace process” when we know there isn’t one is dangerous. And if it keeps Israel from doing everything possible to prevent terrorist attacks, pretending there is a “peace process” might even be getting innocent people killed.
Words have consequences. And using words to obscure the truth does, too.