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Cohen on Annapolis

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"Cohen on Annapolis"

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I’d stopped reading Roger Cohen, but Marty Peretz’s denunciations of Cohen’s latest column made it sound . . . insightful! And, indeed, it’s really good:

His best hope in Annapolis may be the Texas connection. If Bush gets behind Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister who attended the University of Texas, things may move. But he has to stick with him. [...] Fayyad is right. A return to the 1967 lines, plus or minus agreed swaps, is the only basis for a two-state accord. An Israeli settlement freeze is the first step to a Palestinian buy-in. A timetable is the anchor all the talking needs.

Meanwhile, if I read him correctly, Peretz’s view is that Israel shouldn’t reach an accommodation with the Palestinians, because the Palestinians might break the agreement: “Does he really want Israel to give up the West Bank on the wager that rockets will not be aimed at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as they are — daily — from Gaza onto Sderot?” A Palestinian who reads this kind of “pro-Israel” political commentary is going to have to reach the conclusion that there’s no point in conducting talks with Israelis about a two-state solution. Their mentality is that the existence of any kind of Palestinian state is an intolerable threat, since such a state could be used as a launching pad for rockets. That Palestinian is going to reach the conclusion that the only possibility for his people to achieve their national aspirations is going to be through the destruction of Israel.

And through such logic, conflicts would never end. Among other things, Israel would still be threatened by a hostile Egypt at its door and vice-versa. But, really, no compromise and no diplomacy would ever be possible. In the real world, though, there’s nobody to make peace with but your enemies. And there’s nothing to be gained unless you’re willing to at least not rule out in advance the possibility that negotiations might produce a mutually beneficial agreement.

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