No Free Ride

Let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves whether the concessions being offered to Abbas make any sense – if we were even to assume that he has the authority to make commitments and meet them in return for Israeli concessions.


By Moshe Arens

(A version of this column appeared in Haaretz on October 17, 2007.)

As is well known, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And unlike what some people might believe, there are also no free rides. Yet Olmert, Livni and Barak are about to take Israel for a ride, which will end up costing Israel a great deal – a ride to Annapolis.

Not far from Annapolis, at Camp David seven years ago, Ehud Barak took Israel for a ride, which turned out not to be free. We have not yet finished paying for the egregious offers made by Barak to Yasser Arafat at Camp David, nor the price we paid for his unilateral withdrawal from the south Lebanon security zone and the betrayal of the South Lebanon Army.

So here comes another extravaganza, from the people who gave us the forced uprooting of the settlements in Gush Katif, and the debacle of the Second Lebanon War – an imaginary peace settlement with Mahmoud Abbas.

We will agree in principle to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, and he supposedly will agree in principle to make peace with Israel at some future date.

Those whose senses have not been dulled by the unending stream of “spins” being produced by the Prime Minister’s Office, will remember that the foolish disengagement idea was based on the assumption that there was no partner for peace, and therefore Israel had to unilaterally determine its own borders. Does anybody remember who was the “president” of the Palestinian Authority at the time? Of course, it was Mahmoud Abbas. The very same.

How has Mahmoud Abbas suddenly become a “partner for peace?” The answer is, we made him into a partner for peace. The withdrawal from Gush Katif brought Hamas to power, turned the Gaza Strip into a hotbed of terrorism, and left Abbas without a mandate to conduct Palestinian affairs. Now that Hamas has rid itself of Abbas – or in Olmert’s upside-down world, Abbas has rid himself of Hamas – here comes the partner for peace. None other than Mahmoud Abbas.

Here is the law of unintended consequences, at least for those who cannot see beyond their own nose. By unilaterally uprooting the settlers in Gush Katif because “there is no partner for peace,” the Olmert government has with its own hands created a partner for peace.

So let us see who this partner for peace is. The man who received a Ph.D. at Moscow University some years ago for a thesis that proved that there had been no Holocaust. Ahmadinejad must have studied this masterpiece.

Not long ago, Abbas reached an agreement with Hamas to form a national unity government, an agreement Hamas not only did not respect, but it then went ahead and threw Abbas and his people out of Gaza. Abbas, who knows Hamas only too well, still seeks an agreement with them.

Considering the striking Hamas victory in the Gaza Strip, it seems far from impossible that they will in time give Abbas the same treatment in Judea and Samaria. So is this the partner to whom we should offer an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, including control of the Temple Mount?

The implied answer by Olmert and his people is that it is worth a try – what do we have to lose? If Abbas is brought down, or if he cannot meet the commitments he will undertake at Annapolis, we have lost nothing. It will be a free ride.

But there are no free rides. The Israeli government’s readiness to make these concessions will be firmly set in the court of public opinion. It is not going to be easy retracting those concessions. Of course, our foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, believes that these concessions are for our own good. It seems that we have hard this song before. Remember Gush Katif? That was also supposed to be for our own good.

Let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves whether the concessions being offered to Abbas make any sense – if we were even to assume that he has the authority to make commitments and meet them in return for Israeli concessions. After years of a terror campaign that the Palestinians, Fatah and Hamas waged against Israeli civilians, a campaign that caused thousands of casualties and that was finally suppressed by the IDF and the Israeli security services, should the Palestinians now be rewarded by turning over to them Judea and Samaria and much of Jerusalem? Are they not likely to conclude that it is their terror campaign that has produced this result? Remember Gush Katif!

Translate »