Israel: January 11, 2005

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As predicted by opinion polls,  Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen)  won a landslide victory to become the new president of the Palestinian people. Abbas ran on the idea that the terror campaign was a failure and a peace deal had to be worked out. The Palestinian economy is a mess, with at least half the working age population out of work and everyone dependent, to one degree or another, on charity. The Israeli economy went through a mild recession, but is growing again. Much of this is due to the success of Israeli counter-terrorist efforts. In 2004, there were 15 terror attacks on Israelis, which killed 117 Israelis. In 2003 there were 26 attacks and 214 dead. Abbas has convinced most of the Palestinian terrorists to stop their attacks so the elections could be held. But some attacks went on anyway, and Israeli raids continued as well. Abbas wants to resume peace negotiations with Israel, but has a major obstacle to overcome. That is, the Palestinian terrorists refuse to change their strategy of attacking Israel until Israel is destroyed and all Jews are expelled from the Middle East. Abbas was able to tone down, for a while,  the seriously anti-Semitic propaganda on Palestinian media. But it's back now, and, for example, blames Israel and the United States for the recent tidal waves in the Indian ocean. Arab governments have been preaching hatred for Israel for over half a century, and making peace is difficult because of this. Egypt did it, but the anti-Israel propaganda continues to circulate in the country and make it difficult to carry on normal diplomatic and economic relations. Jordan also made peace, but has managed to tone down the anti-Semitic diatribes inside the country. But with the introduction of Arab cable news networks, more of the hate propaganda is hitting Jordanians. 

Abbas faces the same unsavory choices as did his predecessor Arafat; civil war. The Palestinian terrorist organizations, especially Hamas, are popular among Palestinians and would violently resist making peace with Israel. Getting the Palestinians to make a deal, and they keep their word, has always been a problem, and things are not likely to change this time around.

 

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