Coincidentally or not, three days after the scheduled opening date, on November 29, it will be 60 years since the UN General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for creating two states in Mandatory Palestine. The Jews greeted the resolution with singing and dancing. The Arabs flatly rejected it, opening fire on two Egged buses the very next day.
The declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948 kicked off the War of Independence, and the blood spilled since then has smeared every page of the history books. Arab stupidity, intransigence and hatred dragged Israel into the Six-Day War, leading to 40 years of occupation and dominion over the Palestinian people. Advertisement
It has taken us a long time to understand that this glorious victory, studied in military academies around the world, was a pyrrhic victory. Today no democratic country rules another people, except Israel. Israel has become a prisoner of its 40-year occupation, turning us into a chronic target of terrorism and censure. We are denounced by both the Islamic world and the enlightened world.
The Annapolis summit takes us back 60 years, but with one difference. Most of the Palestinians are prepared to divide the country today, but on condition that they don't pay a penny for their idiocy, their ineptitude and their crimes, not to mention the Jewish blood they have spilled. They demand that we turn the clock back, that we pay them restitution, that we agree to their right of return, and so on and so on.
I don't know what Arab Palestine would have looked like if the Palestinians had accepted the UN Partition Plan in 1947. My guess is that their state would have been bigger, we would have been reasonably good neighbors, and they would be better off than they are today. But the world has changed. Political interests have changed. Imperialism has gone out of style. The Cold War between the superpowers has turned into a struggle against a new enemy: crazed Islamic fundamentalists who have declared global war on the infidels, on the Great Satan, on the Little Satan. All are targets of deadly, indiscriminate terror - terror that is nurturing nuclear claws.
Who would have believed that after the annihilation of 6 million Jews, a Holocaust-denying Muslim leader would get up in New York and openly declare that his goal is wiping out Israel? Who would have believed that his emissaries and instructors would be infiltrating Israel to help Palestinian extremist organizations complete the job that Hitler didn't finish?
If there was ever a time when strong leaders were needed to reach an agreement between the two peoples, before a third intifada breaks out, the time is now. The first to realize this was Ariel Sharon, who sent the dream of a Greater Israel into the deep freeze and focused on disengaging from the territories and dividing the land. No one knows what he would have done had he seen how the evacuation of Gush Katif turned out, with Gaza turning from a liberated territory into a Hamas base for attacks on Israeli towns. But it is clear now that unilateral disengagement was a mistake. There is no substitute for an agreement between the parties, and there never will be.
On the eve of the summit, the problem is the feeble leadership of Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). They look more like two British gentlemen meeting for a drink at the club than tough statesmen who can force the extremists in their camps to accept peace based on mutual concessions and conciliation with the enemy.
I find it hard to imagine Abu Mazen putting his foot down in Gaza, halting terror, dissolving the terrorist organizations and ending the Qassam rocket fire. I find it hard to imagine Olmert, under a cloud of criminal investigations, getting a quarter of a million Greater Israel groupies to give up the territories and kiss some of their settlements goodbye. In the cabinet, I don't see how Olmert will get around Ehud Barak, who opposes the summit and calls it "hot air," or Tzipi Livni and Avi Dichter, who are riddled with doubt, or Shaul Mofaz, who says that "Jerusalem is not a piece of real estate."
These guys can't even tie a knot in a cat's tail, Pinhas Sapir used to say about politicians of the Olmert and Abu Mazen ilk. With George W. Bush and Olmert scraping the bottom of the barrel in the public opinion polls, and Abu Mazen lacking his people's support, peace is not going to erupt in Annapolis. But the importance of this summit is that it is held at all. No one ever died from talking.