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FIRST-PERSON: Perhaps a road better not taken

DALLAS (BP)–If you’ve been listening to the political pundits and talking heads of network television lately, it is nearly certain that the president’s “road map” to peace will successfully ford the swollen seas of unrest in the eternal nation of God’s favor. But is this detailed road map really capable of delivering much-needed peace to the Middle East for any significant period of time? And if it is, is the cost really worth it?

There are a number of politicians involved who have a vested interest in the latest round of renewed peace talks.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has clipped his hawkish talons for the errant notion that giving away some of the “disputed territories” is the only option for peace. Mahmoud Abbas, the new leader of the Palestinian people, has a world full of terrorist sympathizers watching to see if he finally will gain legitimacy for one of the greatest threats to world peace — the continued existence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, that has terrorized Arab states as well as Israel in modern history. And now our own president has delivered a plan for peace that so closely resembles Clinton’s ill-fated Camp David accords that we are forced to think Clinton drew the map himself.

This much-discussed road map is built on essentially three points: an immediate halt to the uninterrupted terrorism and violence of the last 33 months, an immediate end to settlement activities by Israel in the “disputed territories” and the formation of a temporary Palestinian state this year to be followed by a full state no later than 2005.

But, the devil is in the details.

To gain the support of Abbas and the Arab world, the United States, leading an awkward “quartet” of the international community, is pressuring a democratic and rightfully constituted state, Israel, to make concessions to the terrorist PLO.

As always, the terms for this peace plan require Israel to relinquish far more than they gain. They must give away their precious and promised lands to gain a perpetually hostile mini-nation within their own territory.

We need not be under any illusions about the practical results of forming such a Palestinian nation. It will continue to serve as a haven for terrorist groups like Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Palestine Liberation Front, none of whom are likely to ever accept Israel’s right to exist. Only now there will be safety to operate under the political cover of statehood.

Moreover, there are genuine questions to Palestinian claims to the territory that it occupies. Indeed, one could make a stronger case for Palestinian claims to Jordan than to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, any such state must have a legitimate sovereign. But, the United States has long made a policy of never negotiating with dictators or totalitarian regimes. While Abbas has been presented as the new Palestinian prime minister, he still heads essentially a network of terrorist organizations.

It is rather frightening for friends of Israel to sit and watch as the world community stretches every definition of statehood to grant legitimacy to the Palestinians. It is equally disturbing that some in the world community have granted de facto moral authority to the very Arab nations that continue to fund and otherwise support terrorism against Israel, by allowing these rogue states to weigh in on this issue at all.

Americans would fiercely defend our country against any effort to partition our land. We should not expect or require Israel to do something that we would not do ourselves.
Benjamin S. Cole is a Baptist minister residing in Dallas and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

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  • Benjamin S. Cole