The Secretary of State’s wildly belated trip to the Palestinian territories raises a few questions. First — what on God’s green earth is a “provisional” state? Something like the Irish Free State? I don’t know. Why, one wonders, would you bother making this proposal to President Abbas at a time when due to his domestic political weakness he couldn’t possibly accept? Well, I suppose I do know the answer to that one, namely that for the next five years suggestions that the US should be aggressively involved in forging an Israeli-Palestinian settlement will be shot down on the theory that “Abbas was offered a state and turned it down.” Something like that.
Then we get to the small matter of “State Department proposal for $86 million in ‘nonlethal assistance’ to enhance the Palestinian security forces directly under his political wing — as opposed to those loyal to Hamas.” The distinction between “lethal” and “nonlethal” assistance to security forces escapes me. Perhaps more to the point as you’ll recall several years ago the Palestinian Authority was a corrupt and authoritarian structure, ruling undemocratically over the Palestinian people with the aid of its security services. The United States government insisted on reforms, democratic elections, etc. Hamas — which, to be clear, everyone understood to be the only realistically possible alternative to Fatah — won the election. And now we’re pumping money into those very same Fatah security forces so that they can re-establish the autocracy we insisted they dismantle? Yet another “I don’t see any method at all, sir” moment from Team Bush.