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July 18, 2017

Former Peace Negotiator Acknowledges Mistakes

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Aaron David Miller


A former American Arab-Israeli peace negotiator, Aaron David Miller, acknowledged that the U.S. “overlooked” negative Palestinian behavior in its attempts to fashion a two-state solution. Miller, a former U.S. State Department employee and long-time author and commentator on the Middle East, made his remarks at a July 11, 2017 book launch at the Washington D.C.-based think tank, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).

The event, attended by the press, policymakers and CAMERA, featured Miller, as well as FDD analyst Grant Rumley and Ha’aretz contributor Amir Tabon, both of whom were promoting their recent book The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas.

Politico’s Susan Glasser moderated a discussion between the three panelists, much of which revolved around the future of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and has been led for twelve years by Abbas.

Miller, who participated in Arab-Israeli negotiations from the 1980s through the early 2000s, reflected on what American negotiators missed, noting:

“We overlooked—in terms of the state-building capacity—we overlooked so many bad forms of behavior in the maybe well-intentioned pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace—corruption, authoritarian behavior, incitement—largely because the Israelis, however annoyed and disturbed they were by these trends, were also prepared to subordinate them to the overall goal and objective, and you see the consequences now. Same issues are there.”

“One of the things that we foolishly never understood about Arafat [Yasser Arafat, Abbas’ predecessor],” Miller said, was that “he never gave up the gun from the beginning…”

Miller pointed out that these Palestinian institutional issues are endemic and stated, “the last thing the Middle East needs now—and Palestinians deserve a functional state for many reasons—is a broken, failed one.”

The panelists’ discussion on Palestinian politics—a topic they all agreed was widely ignored by the media—also focused on who might succeed Abbas, an octogenarian who hasn’t stood for elections in more than a decade. Miller suggested Mohammad Dahlan, a former Fatah operative currently being embraced by the rival movement Hamas, as a possibility. Rumley stated that its currently a “competing race” between Marwan Barghouti, an imprisoned murderer and terrorist, and Jibril Rajoub “who hails from the security apparatuses.”

Rumley also highlighted the chaos and confusion that might happen in the event of a succession:

“What happened when Arafat passed was power went to the speaker of the PA’s parliament for 60 days while elections were prepared. That’s what Palestinian basic law says is supposed to happen. The problem with that now is that Hamas won the 2006 elections, so the speaker of parliament is a member of Hamas. It’s unlikely in any scenario that the Fatah-dominated PA is going to give power, even temporarily, to a member of Hamas.”

Now, if not yesterday, might be a good time for the media to start devoting more attention to internal Palestinian affairs.

Posted by SD at July 18, 2017 10:47 AM

Comments

Too bad Miller woke up so late in the game. He and others still do not get it. A Two State Solution is an Impossibility. Shall I repeat this? The ONLY SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT IS RESETTLEMENT OF ARABS WHO NOW CALL THEMSELVES SinCE 1964, IS TO THE SURROUNDING ARAB NATIONS FROM WHENCE THEIR FATHERS/GRANDFATHERS CAME DURING THE 1930s.

Posted by: Steve Allen at July 20, 2017 06:32 PM

There is not a double standard, when it comes to the Israeli - Arab conflict; there is a triple standard. The first standard is what the West expects of itself. The second, higher standard, is what the West demands of Israel (and nobody else). The third standard, lower than the first, is what the West deems acceptable for the "Palestinians."

Posted by: Gary Katz at July 25, 2017 08:48 AM

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