January 2, 2005

No Peace in Sight

Try to imagine an alternate America where well-armed right-wing death squads make regular incursions into Canada to massacre civilians on buses and in restaurants in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. Then imagine an upcoming election where the front-runner, a Republican, not only pledges to protect the death squads from Canadian counter-measures but also brings them along on his campaign.

That’s basically what’s happening in the West Bank and Gaza right now.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that he wants to shield Palestinian militants from Israel and indicated he has no plans to crack down on gunmen after upcoming presidential elections.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Abbas defended a series of recent campaign appearances with gunmen, saying the Palestinian leadership has a responsibility to protect its people.

“When we see them, when we meet them, and when they welcome us, we owe them,” Abbas said. “This debt always is to protect them from assassination, to protect them from killing, and all these things they are subject to by the Israelis.”

Abbas, the front-runner in Jan. 9 Palestinian presidential elections, has been courting militants, appearing with gunmen at campaign stops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent days.

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Comparing my alternate-universe North America and the real-world Middle East has its limits, I know. Canada isn’t occupying the United States, for one thing. (Of course, Canada has no reason to do so. If the US had launched a series of failed genocidal wars against Canada, and if Americans continued to threaten the annihilation of Canada, things would be different.)

But let’s say Canada was occupying the United States. Can you imagine how absurd it would be if the most prominent American politician said he’s against a proposed Canadian withdrawal of its forces from, say, New England?

That, too, is happening in Gaza right now.
Abbas also said that Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which is being planned without any Palestinian input, is “unacceptable” and demanded a resumption of peace talks.
I suppose a reasonable person might explain how a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is “unacceptable.” But a man who campaigns with terrorists isn’t the guy.

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Counter-terrorism will exist as long as terrorism exists. There is just no getting around it. The Palestinian people will be given a choice in their upcoming election. Do they want to continue bearing the brunt of Israeli counter-terrorism? Or would they rather do it themselves? They have to choose one. “None of the above” is not an option right now. A vote for Abbas looks like a vote for war and, whether they see it this way or not, a vote against their own sovereignty.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 2, 2005 9:09 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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