Dennis Ross, always a reliable voice on the Middle East, returns from a Gaza conference in an optimistic frame of mind. In the post-Arafat era, more and more Palestinians see the all-or-nothing path as a dead-end:

"As someone who probably dealt with Yasser Arafat more than any non-Palestinian, I can safely say that Palestinian responsibility was never on his agenda. Arafat made being a victim a strategy, not just a condition, and thus Palestinians were entitled, never responsible. Yet, here in Gaza, no one challenged those Palestinians who raised questions about their responsibilities. And while most of the comments directed to me were about America's responsibility to right the wrongs done to the Palestinians, some in the audience picked up my challenge to recognize that the United States could help the Palestinians only if they were prepared to fulfill their obligations, particularly on security. Indeed, when I declared that there would be no Palestinian state born of violence -- with the leading proponents of that violence sitting there -- several Palestinians responded by saying that violence was a mistake and nothing would be achieved by it.

"What struck me about these comments was that there was no hesitancy to make them. With the opposition sitting there, with the entire conference being conducted in Arabic and televised throughout the Middle East, declaring that violence against the Israelis was wrong bore no stigma and apparently little risk. Declaring that Palestinians had responsibilities to fulfill was also treated as legitimate, not sacrilegious. "

UPDATE: In contrast to Roger L. Simon, Powerline's Big Trunk is not impressed: "Ross's recent memoir of his involvement in the "peace process" reveals a certain susceptibility to the ploys of Yasser Arafat. Among them was the agreement to symbolic concessions on his part while demanding substantive concessions on the part of Israel. (See David Meir-Levy's interesting review of Ross's book: "The 'Missing Peace' is missing pieces.") His column would be more persuasive if it distinguished between words and deeds, tactics and strategy..."
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/01/sliver-of-light-dennis-ross-always.html|||1/02/2005 05:20:00 pm|||||||||