Skip to comments.Bill Frist: Double the funding for Palestinians (Frist 2008 Anyone???)
Posted on 05/27/2005 10:00:14 AM PDT by GOPGuide
In about three months, Israel will begin its courageous withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Nearly 8,500 Israeli settlers will pack up their homes and relocate. Many settlers are unhappy; some will resist. The road to peace will not be easy.
But the most urgent challenge of Gaza is not Israel's disengagement, but the Palestinian Authority's subsequent management over this troubled area. A coordinated hand-over that prevents instability and builds confidence means progress toward the "road map" to peace, while turmoil ensures a detour. Escalation of violence could lead to the collapse of Mahmoud Abbas' government - some have even suggested a third intifada.
Wednesday, when I met with President Abbas on Capitol Hill, we discussed the importance of this transition. He understands that the credibility of his government and the hopes of his people depend on the Palestinian Authority's ability to deliver the fruits of peace, especially jobs and social services.
But President Abbas cannot turn his words into reality if the resources required for success, particularly in Gaza, are not readily available. That, in turn, could mean the end of President Bush's vision of two democratic states living side by side in peace and security. As a strong supporter of Israel and what she stands for, we cannot let that happen.
This is not an easy thing for an optimist such as myself to say. But having just spent a week meeting with leaders in the region, I believe that the next 90 days are a crucial test for peace. This is why the United States, Europe and the Arab world need to act quickly and boldly to empower President Abbas by at least doubling, and delivering, the financial assistance they've committed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people.
The international community has provided the Palestinians with a great deal of money over the years, only to see it frittered away through fraud and waste. But with new leadership now in Ramallah, and the chance for peace high, we can afford to risk a little more when so much is at stake.
President Abbas also must do his part to:
Overhaul Palestinian institutions and govern with transparency and accountability.
Show the Palestinian people that their needs are his priority, and that progress will be made through negotiation, not violence.
Disarm and disband militants, because ending terrorism is the prerequisite for peace in the region.
Ensure that arms aren't smuggled into Gaza for terrorist operations against Israel.
At the same time, the Palestinian Authority must jump start Gaza's economy and create a functioning legal system to go after terrorists and criminals. All of this requires substantial funding.
If he can demonstrate meaningful progress to the Palestinian people, and renew their hope for a better life, then Abbas can pursue his reform agenda and implementation of the road map. If he fails and Hamas - the radical Islamic Palestinian group opposed to peace and responsible for many brutal attacks against Israel - gains, the peace process will be imperiled.
Abbas has already taken steps to reform the Palestinian Authority. He has consolidated the security services, has begun removing elements of Yasser Arafat's old guard, and is improving fiscal accountability. Much more needs to be done, beginning with the complete dismantlement of terrorist organizations, but this will take time - a scarce commodity.
For nearly four years, the United States has been fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has cost us billions of dollars and an even higher price in the lives of our military personnel. This war must be fought and won, but we cannot do it on the battlefield alone.
Some of our enemies say they fight on behalf of the Palestinian people. Many see this issue as the source of resentment toward America. Despite our longstanding efforts in the Arab world and on behalf of Muslim peoples, some no longer see the United States as an honest broker. We must continue to demonstrate to the world that we stand for peace, justice and freedom by continuing to lead on this issue. In the long run, America will be more safe and secure, and so will Israel.
The window for peace in the Middle East has opened, but I fear it will close (and maybe for good) in the next few months, unless we keep both sides talking and moving forward. We must look ahead and make sure President Abbas has the means to do his part to make peace in the Middle East a real possibility.
You can tell that FR isn't on Frist's reading list.
Didn't Yassar leave his stolen American largesse to the "pipples" of Palestine?
Yeah, really! Especially since it was American blood and sweat that built the capability to extract and sell the oil to begin with. Nary a thank you ever!
Suha can't hold a candle to Miss Piggy.