View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Meet the New Yasser, Same as the old Yasser

In a move calculated to stun the world, Yasser Arafat has put the kabosh on the summit between Abu Mazen and Ariel Sharon. They were supposed to meet tomorrow, but Arafat, wanting to show he's in control here, has decided to "review" Israel's latest security arrangements.

This really is just the same old pattern, just on a somewhat smaller playing field, in this case, one room in a mostly bombed-out building in Ramallah. Historically, Arafat has taken whatever concessions he's offered, failed to reciprocate even on the promised "reforms," or "actions," or "promises," and then raised the price for those same promises. Here, one of the main goalsof recent US and Israeli diplomacy has been to marginalize the poor terrorist, and make him "irrelevant" to the process. In moves inconsistent to all but Foggy Bottom, the US waited until it thought Abu Mazen sufficiently entrenched to release the Road Map, and then leaned to Israel to accept it in order to strengthen Abu Mazen. Now, having gotten the Road Map out in the open, Arafat is just playing the same game.

One could argue that this is progress, of a sort. Rather than pocketing real concessions and returning to murder, he's pocketing promises and returning to politics. But Arafat's politics essentially equate to murder. Having backed him into a very small, non-air conditioned, corner, it's vitally important that we not get suckered back into the same game of put up and pretend. Put up concessions, that is, and pretend that everything is going as advertised.

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