Israel is helping by getting rid of checkpoints, but there are still a great many complaints about how its forces keep placing new ones unexpectedly at sites from which they had been removed, and continue to enter Palestinian urban centers to make arrests - despite vigorous Palestinian Authority operations against every attempt by terrorist groups to organize themselves. The quality of life of the "average Palestinian resident" has improved dramatically, in comparison with past years. A Palestinian journalist said this week that the situation in the West Bank is not only better than in the past, but "terrific." [emphasis added]Haaretz begrudgingly admits:
This is the place to note that, surprisingly, Netanyahu is widely perceived in the West Bank as a man of his word. In the period of Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Barak there may have been peace talks, but the number of checkpoints reached a new high every week and chaos reigned in the West Bank. Netanyahu, with his ideas of an "economic peace," is lulling the Palestinian public in the West Bank, and the danger of a third intifada is receding. The question is, until when. [emphasis added]I wonder how many Americans would mind being 'lulled' by economic growth during the current global economic crisis...
But the point is that the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank respect Netanyahu as a man of his word--something they are not used to after decades of the corruption and incompetence of its former--and current--leadership.
On the flip side, Israelis definitely do not respect Abbas--but then again, they are growing wary of Netanyahu as well. Paul Eidelberg expresses a dissatisfaction with Netanyahu that goes back to Bibi's first stint as Prime Minister, listing provisions of the Wye agreement that were not fulfilled and concluding:
If the reader juxtaposes the above security provisions of the Wye Memorandum and the countless Palestinian terror attacks on Israel and the ceaseless Palestinian acts of incitement that followed, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Netanyahu is guilty of gross negligence in the fulfillment of his official duties. That is why I want to know why he remains in office. That is why I wonder why members of his party have not called on him to resign from his office. That is why I wonder why any party or faction would want to be a member of any coalition of which Netanyahu is the leader? That is why I wonder why he has not been removed by a Knesset vote of no confidence? That is why I wonder whether Israelâ€”if it is truly a democracyâ€”has not relegated Mr. Netanyahu to the political wilderness.And then add to that Netanyahu's recent failure to stand up the US on the issue of the settlements and proposing--and carrying out--a 10-month freeze on settlement growth. They trusted Netanayahu to stand firm.
Or maybe sit and do nothing?
Abbas and his team fully expect that Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze -- if he did, his center-right coalition would almost certainly collapse. So they plan to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office. "It will take a couple of years," one official breezily predicted. Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession -- such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.
Instead, he says, he will remain passive. "I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life." [emphasis added]
If Israel wants someone who will sit and do nothing, someone who will not make any concessions--or even come to the bargaining table for that matter--then surely Abbas is their man.
So let's go ahead and make that switch--it would makes things interesting.
Technorati Tag: Netanyahu and Abbas.