ARLINGTON, Va. - President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair - both stalwarts in urging the United Nations to live up to its resolutions on Iraq - changed the subject for a moment last week by announcing their support for a "road map" they say can bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The announcement was timed to help Mr. Blair's falling political support, but the "road map" won't bring peace because it has been created with the wrong political coordinates - that what Israel does or does not do affects the behavior of Palestinian terrorists.
Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair praised the naming of a Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), by Yasser Arafat. Mr. Abbas, whom some have labeled a "moderate," is a Holocaust denier who has called for the murder of Israelis. In a 1983 book, Mr. Abbas claimed fewer than 1 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis (not 6 million, the figure generally accepted) and that Zionist leaders conspired with the Nazis in order to gain international sympathy for Zionism. Only the worst anti-Semite would believe such a fantasy.
In a June 24 speech about the Middle East, President Bush said that Palestinian Arabs must "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." Using that definition, Mahmoud Abbas is not such a leader. In a March 3 interview with the Arab newspaper Alsharq Al-Amat, Mr. Abbas characterized recent discussions he had with several Palestinian terrorist groups: "We didn't talk about a break in the armed struggle. ... It is our right to resist." Mr. Abbas suggested that all territory on the West Bank belongs to Palestinians and should be defended with armed force.
Even more dangerous to Jews, to Israel and to U.S. interests in the Middle East is the suggestion by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair that the "road map" can be implemented "as progress is made toward peace."
This is a troubling phrase, because the language suggests that Israel might be forced to make new and dangerous concessions in response to token or insincere moves by Mr. Arafat. Since Palestinian and Hamas terrorists have conducted homicide bombings against Israeli civilians, why shouldn't they be required to stop and renounce terror before Israel lowers its guard?
Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush spoke about "democracy" and "free and honest governments." But there is only one democratic, free and honest government in the region, and it is Israel's. Mr. Blair went on about the need for a "Palestinian leadership that acts decisively against terror and builds democracy." Nice words, but there is no evidence that Mr. Arafat and his deadly conspirators have ever considered stopping terror.
The Bush-Blair "road map" is designed to be adopted even before the Palestinian Authority has met the president's own conditions for statehood. It was the same after the Oslo accords. Palestinians failed to live up to a single provision of the document, which Mr. Arafat signed. That didn't stop Western nations from keeping the pressure on Israel to make further concessions.
When Secretary of State Colin L. Powell testified last week before a House committee, he said Palestinian attacks on Israel and a lack of Palestinian peace proposals have kept progress from being made toward a peace agreement. So why isn't the pressure on Mr. Arafat to halt the attacks for good instead of on Israel to make more compromises that could lead to its own extermination?
U.N. Resolution 242 requires "the termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
The new Palestinian prime minister is not about any of this. To him, force remains an active strategy, and his denial of the Holocaust is sufficient evidence - if more is needed - that neither he nor any other Palestinian leader has any intention of implementing the Bush-Blair "road map" unless it leads to hell for Israel and the Jews.
In the column published March 5, E. J. Dionne was quoted as saying he wished President Bush would demonstrate "heroic ambivalence" in his approach to a possible war with Iraq. Mr. Dionne says that in a column last October he called for "principled ambivalence," not "heroic ambivalence."
Cal Thomas' syndicated column appears Wednesdays in The Sun. He can be reached via e-mail at www.calthomas.com.