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To Make Peace, You Must First Make a Solid Attempt to Enforce It
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will host Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Annapolis soon, attempting to succeed where others have failed: to achieve a lasting peace agreement between the two sides of the conflict.
Unfortunately, Rice appears ready to follow the same path as her predecessors -- of broad, unfulfilled promises; painful sacrifices on the part of Israel; and a Palestinian leadership unwilling or incapable of meeting its commitments to combat terror, incitement and corruption -- with equally disappointing results.
A failed process will provide no benefits to the Palestinians, while leaving Israel and America less secure. And peace will be nowhere in sight. At this critical juncture, we must learn from history, and devise a new policy that emphasizes accountability and results.
First and foremost, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly pledged to stop terrorism without making good on his word. He has not cracked down on the repeated launching of hundreds of rockets by terrorists into Israeli towns and cities. His own Fatah Party's militia -- the Aksa Martyrs Brigade -- is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups and has murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians in terror attacks during the last six years. Just this past Thursday, the Brigade publicly threatened to fire hundreds of rockets at Israel. Fatah's constitution, too, supports terrorism and advocates Israel's destruction.
Meanwhile, foreign aid to Abbas has entered Hamas coffers. Abbas himself has; he has called the group an "integral part of the Palestinian people"; met with officials this week; and promised to engage in further talks if Hamas cedes control of Gaza, without first requiring it to recognize Israel's right to exist and stop the use of terror.
The United States has spent millions on programs to assist the P.A. in providing humanitarian assistance, including food, educational aid, sanitation services and medicine to meet the needs of Palestinians.
Despite these efforts, Abbas and his corrupt Fatah Party failed miserably at implementing government reforms.
Yet the United States has done little to change such behavior, instead, counseling patience and offering further aid. This only encourages a culture of victimhood and unaccountability among the Palestinians, a culture that feeds terror and perpetuates the conflict. Therefore, given the history of the P.A.and Fatah, the administration's recent proposal to hand Abbas hundreds of millions in additional funding is simply wrong.
We cannot continue to substitute hope for reality by continuing to assume the existence of a viable Palestinian partner for peace while placing the onus on Israel to make greater and greater unilateral sacrifices. In doing so, we only undermine a vital ally, endangering our own security.
It is time for a new approach.
We must pursue a policy that sets and enforces higher standards for Palestinian behavior, and provides consequences if they fail to perform. The first step is to link our support to results. Instead of disbursing millions to Palestinian leaders in the hope that they will change their ways, we must link each disbursement of funds to tangible progress. Consistent with the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, we need to require the purging from its security services individuals with ties to terrorism; the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure within its jurisdiction and full cooperation with Israel's security services; the halting of anti-American and anti-Israel incitement in P.A.-controlled media; the adoption of reforms aimed at transparent and accountable governance; and ensuring the fiscal transparency of government ministries and operations.
If the Palestinians do not achieve the intended results, they must not receive U.S. aid or the legitimacy of political support from U.S. officials.
Simultaneously, America must end support for entities that only serve to perpetuate the Palestinian conflict. We must not blindly hold out false hope that the corrupt Fatah leadership will be able to bring peace without us holding them accountable. We must support abolishing the United Nations' biased Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and other duplicative and incendiary institutions within the U.N. framework.
The United States must settle for nothing less than a genuine partner for peace with Israel that leads -- and sets the tone -- in achieving results. Only then will there be a glimmer of hope for lasting peace and security in the region.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida serves as the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley is a Democrat from Nevada.