Late start today, as you can plainly see. Very long, very fun, very punishing birthday weekend.
Palestinian Prime Minister designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has told European diplomats he will use his inaugural speech to declare an end to the use of arms to achieve Palestinian national aspirations.
Abu Mazen will be inaugurated after the PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council) approves his government. He told the Europeans, after he reached agreement on the composition of his cabinet last week with Chairman Yasser Arafat, that he would say ending the armed struggle and improving the living conditions of Palestinians are an inseparable part of the road map that would form the basic guidelines of his government.
It could be that Mazen’s statement means exactly nothing — just another Arafat-type ploy. You know the routine: Promise to end the violence, while really just holding it back a little until concessions are won from the Israelis, or pressue is brought on Sharon by Washington, or more money is conned out of the Europeans.
Or, it could be genuine. That’s not to say that terror campaign is over. Even is Mazen really means it, there are still competing power factions in and outside of the Palestiniain Authority, many of them committed to violence. But — Iraqi finiancial support is finished andn the Israelis have gotten much better at clamping down. Combine those two facts with the possibility of even a semi-effective change in PA behavior, and we might just get something like normalcy in Israel and Palestine.
There’s one more item from the story worth discussing:
Abu Mazen told the Europeans all future inputs of money to the PA, whether from donors, Europeans, or Arab countries would go to the PA treasury and would be overseen by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad.
That would meet long-standing European demands made to an unresponsive Arafat for financial transparency in the use of money sent to the PA.
Really, the problem here isn’t (wasn’t?) Arafat’s refusal to open his books. The problem is the Europeans. They pour money into the PA, in full knowledge that it’s being used for terrorism. And not just to buy bomb vests, but to support an “education system” geared to accomplish nothing but produce little suicide bombers and militarize an entire people for the destruction of Israel.
If the new PA can provide real transparency, that’s fine, that’s great, I hope they do it and I wish them well. But what really has to change are European attitudes towards that “shitty little country.”