I really wish the Palestinians well. I think they are entitled to everything all humans are entitled to: political freedom and self-determination, free speech and cultural expression, and of course badly needed humanitarian relief. Not only do they deserve it; they are likely to embrace it and flourish in it.
But I think Rice is way off when she says it's time for a Palestinian state, for these reasons:
- Abbas's demands for establishing such a state are unreasonable. The issues he's outlined are legitimate, but his proposed resolutions aren't.
- This is because Abbas has no choice - he will be unseated or worse if he proposes anything that is acceptable to Israel. This is how radicalized Palestinian public opinion has become, for the simple reason that the linking of terrorism and demands has been so strong for so long.
- It is unclear - to put it kindly - what options Israel will have for defending itself against the (virtually guaranteed) hostile acts of this state. The Europeans - as is their longstanding tradition - would rather that Israel did nothing to defend itself.
- The likely result of a Palestinian state right now is a situation ten times worse than what we're seeing Gaza, with disastrous results for the Palestinians and Israelis, and the outlook for long-term peace.
- Rice should give the Palestinians a choice: they can have a timetable, or a road map, but not both. That way they can have as much of a state as they can pull together by the deadline; or they can have a solid state eventually based on certain milestones. What they can't have is everything they want from Israel while reserving the right to demand more under the threat of violence.
- In the meantime, the international community should support everything Abbas does to institute democratic institutions, low-level contact between the parties, confidence-building measures, etc. While also lending absolute support for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorists, even if that includes barriers, checkpoints, or wading into the West Bank and Gaza to arrest the crooks.
It's time the world treated the Palestinians as the adults they are