Two people meet opposite the Brooklyn Bridge. "Buy the bridge from me," says one to the other, "You'll get a bargain price." "How much?" the potential buyer asks. "A million dollars," is the reply. "We have a deal," says the buyer. He takes out his checkbook and proceeds to write a check. The check changes hands and each goes his own separate way.
An observer turns to the buyer and asks: "You know that that bridge doesn't belong to him, and he knows that your check is worthless, so what are you actually doing?" The buyer responds: "What about the pen I took, isn't that worth something?"
Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas are discussing a final-status agreement: One is weak and afraid and hasn't quite hatched from his egg, while the other has the level of support of those advocating the flu. Everyone knows that the one isn't selling and the other isn't buying, so what's this ridiculous charade all about? It's all about a few photos and a lamb stew with rice.
One is in need of aid, desperate for cash so that his murderous militias will not be defeated by another murderous militia. The other, our man, is desperate for some achievement, something that would finally work for him, but the price he is willing to pay for it and the damage it will cause are the problem.
The Palestinians do not abide by any agreements after all. According to the road map, in the initial phase they are supposed to collect all the weapons, disarm all the armed organizations, and refrain from terror etc. As they have not abided by any commitment thus far, a patent was found: Let's lower the bar of stipulations, and this way each time the Palestinians commit themselves to something and obviously don’t abide by it, we will concede a little more and lower the bar even further.
If they do not meet the conditions of an intermediate agreement, it's no big deal - we'll just skip to the final-status agreement.
This is of course foolish, because Mahmoud Abbas, who barely represents a single Palestinian faction, is incapable of delivering anything, so what’s the point of meeting with him? Why negotiate, why concede, when clearly the other side's word is worthless?
There is little wisdom and much arrogance in taking a single faction from among the Palestinian factions and militias, artificially crowning it, and expecting it to have an organized and centrist state that abides by its commitments. In reality, this is a regime dependent on our benevolence, but we shouldn’t say this out loud, because it is likely to weaken them.
We are being urged to release more and more terrorists and transfer more and more funds when it is not clear what they are being used for, send in more and more ammunition that will ultimately be directed towards us – and all this is being done in order to preserve such a fragile thing. Even if the Palestinian government does succeed by use of violence and cruelty (and with our help) to take control of the remaining Palestinians, they will still be hostile towards us.
Perhaps instead of this unnecessary charade, which besides photo opportunities for the media doesn't produce a thing, we should consider what moves are good for Israel. What do we need and what are we aiming to achieve?
We have to be realistic in our aspirations and should aim to reach a broad consensus between us, rather than being dragged into a dispute over another mendacious agreement.