REGIME CHANGE 2
Thomas Friedman argues that settling the Israeli–Palestinian dispute is essential to long-term success in Iraq. He is rather optimistic that something can be worked out, as he sees the rise of Abu Mazen as the Palestinian PM as a “silent coup” that signals a new way of thinking. This creates an opening:
There is a natural deal here among America, Europe and the Arabs: the Europeans and Arabs use their influence to force Mr. Arafat to accept Mr. Abbas on his terms, and the Americans use their influence on Mr. Sharon to produce an immediate settlements freeze, the rollback of all illegal settlements and a resumption of negotiations after a new Palestinian security force, under a new prime minister, is in place.
The Europeans and Arabs missed their chance to be part of Saddam’s removal. But they can contribute now by being part of the easing aside of Mr. Arafat. At the same time, U.S. conservatives who supported war against Iraq need to understand that if they miss this chance to help nurture an alternative Palestinian leadership Ã¢€” by refusing to make demands on Mr. Sharon Ã¢€” not only will Israel be less safe in the long run, but chances of President Bush succeeding in Iraq will be diminished.
I’m less optimistic than Friedman–who doesn’t account for radicals like Hamas–but hope he’s right that this decades-old dispute can be settled.