Saturday, August 13, 2005

What's Our Goal in Gaza?

Hamas vows to continue to fight Israel from its new safe haven.

The President laid out his expectactions for the newly independent area earlier this year.
I think what is necessary to achieve the vision of two states living side by side in peace is for there to be progress. Look, there's a lack of confidence in the region. I can understand that. There's been a lot of deaths; a lot of innocent people have lost their lives. And there's just not a lot of confidence in either side.

And I think we have a chance to build confidence. The Prime Minister is taking a bold step and a courageous step, and basically he's saying that, you know, until he sees more progress, he doesn't have confidence. And I suspect if we were to have a frank discussion about it, the Palestinians would say, well, we don't have confidence in Israel.

So what's needed is confidence. And I'm convinced the place to earn -- to gain that confidence is to succeed in the Gaza. And so we're kind of prejudging what is going to happen based upon a rather pessimistic point of view. I'm an optimist. I believe that it is possible to work to set up a self-governing entity in the Gaza. And I believe a self-governing entity is one that is going to be peaceful, because most people want there to be peace. And when that happens, then all of a sudden, I think we'll have a different frame of mind.

I suspect that the tone of your question -- I'm not being critical -- but I just suspect that if there is success in the Gaza, in other words, if there's a state that's emerging, the Prime Minister will have a different attitude about whether or not it makes sense to continue the process. And I suspect that people will say, you know, it is possible for democracy to take hold.

And so there's skepticism now about the process, because as I said earlier, it's a complicated part of the world with a lot of history. And so I want to focus the world's attention on getting it right in the Gaza, and then all of a sudden, people will start to say, gosh, well, that makes sense. The Palestinians will see it's a hopeful -- there's a hopeful way forward. The Palestinian moms will say, well, here's an opportunity for my child to grow up in a peaceful world. And then I think the dialogue will shift. But in the meantime, there is a process to go forward, and we're now ready to help the Palestinians seize the moment that this Prime Minister has provided in the Gaza. So that's where you'll see our attention focused.
In recent weeks, there have been several gunfights as Hamas and PA police collide with each other. It's almost impossible to know, from press reports, the internal political situation in Gaza, just as the press seems unable to report on Iraq. What is clear, is that President Abbas has lot of heavy lifting to do, similar to what the Iraqi state had to achieve...and he doesn't have American divisions to back his ploy.

I doubt at this point, Abbas truly desires the President's goal, though he may come to see the need to break Hamas--if he lives that long.

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