Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice behaves like a zealot. In her ever-rasher pursuit of a Palestinian state, she exhibits the syndrome defined by the philosopher George Santana as one who redoubles her efforts upon losing sight of the objective.
Let's recall: The objective laid out by President Bush, when he decided in June 2002 to support the creation of a homeland for the Palestinian people, was to provide a stable, secure neighbor for Israel, committed to leaving peaceably with the Jewish State.
Mr. Bush explicitly preconditioned such support on: an end to Palestinian terror; a Palestinian leadership untainted by ties to terrorism; and eliminating the infrastructure in Palestinian areas that enables such behavior. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the United States was in the business of eliminating terrorist-sponsoring regimes, not creating them.
Now, however, it is crystal-clear that the only outcome from Condi Rice's idee fixe — namely that she will convene a Middle East peace conference at the U.S. Naval Academy for the purpose of extracting from Israel the territorial concessions needed rapidly to establish a Palestinian state — has nothing to do with the original Bush vision. Under present and foreseeable circumstances, the best that can be hoped from such a meeting for is failure. For success will result in a new safe haven for terror that is a mortal threat not only for Israel, but for the United States, as well.
Unfortunately, even the failure of Condi's Folly at Annapolis is likely to be a very bad outcome. To the extent her actions are raising unwarranted expectations on the part of Palestinians and their Arab friends, past practice suggests it will translate into a pretext for new violence against Israel.
That will be especially true if, as is also predictable, the Israelis are blamed for the outcome for not being willing enough — in the face of Palestinian intractability — to make what are euphemistically called "painful" moves for peace. Another way to describe such moves are as reckless concessions certain to jeopardize Israel's security, and quite possibly ours.
After all, it is only reasonable to expect the West Bank to follow the trajectory of the Gaza Strip and, before it, southern Lebanon — both of which Israel abandoned to her foes, only to have those territories become staging grounds for attacks on Israel and secure incubators for terror against us. Among those operating from such areas are Islamofascist terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the newest addition to the State Department's list of such entities.
Condi Rice nonetheless demands that Israel now relinquish the West Bank and East Jerusalem to yet another terrorist organization: Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah. To be sure, the secretary of state would have us believe Fatah is no such thing. In fact, the entire Annapolis house of cards is built on the fraudulent foundation that the Palestinian faction established by Mr. Abbas' mentor, Yasser Arafat, is a reliable partner for peace and effective counterweight to Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip.
Only a zealot who has altogether lost any sense of reality could make such an assertion. Treating Fatah as the cornerstone of American diplomacy and demands on Israel is nothing less than perilous and irresponsible. Consider the following sampler of recent counter-indicators:
-- Last August, five Fatah operatives assigned to Mr. Abbas' security detail conspired to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a visit by the latter to meet the Palestinian "president" in the West Bank city of Jericho. After their arrest on information from Israel's internal intelligence agency, Shin Bet, several of these individuals were released by the Palestinian Authority.
-- This is in keeping with past practice. By some estimates, Fatah and its Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade have claimed responsibility for murdering roughly as many Israelis as has Hamas. In those rare cases when the perpetrators are actually arrested by Palestinian police, they are generally set free in short order. How could Israel possibly entrust physical control of the West Bank — from which virtually the entire Jewish State's population can be subjected to rocket or even mortar fire — to people with such a record?
-- Speaking of the Jewish State, in the run-up to the Annapolis meeting, Mr. Abbas and his subordinates have lately become quite brazen in denouncing Israel's right to exist as such. Their statements not only speak volumes about the degree to which Condi Rice's desperate bid for a "legacy" is now being clearly read as bullies always do: as evidence of contemptible and exploitable weakness. They also make a mockery of the premise that Abbas and Company are preferable to Hamas because, unlike the latter, they are truly willing to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors.
-- In fact, only the most willfully blind could maintain such a pretense in light of the incessant propagandizing and indoctrination about killing Jews and destroying Israel that passes for official or at least officially sanctioned broadcasts, sermons and speeches emanating from Mr. Abbas' rump Palestinian Authority.
The only Palestinian state that can possibly come from Condoleezza Rice's zealotry will be a dagger pointed at the heart of Israel and a new safe-haven for terror aimed at the United States and other Western nations. Even if a corrupt and politically unrepresentative Olmert government in Israel is prepared to play along, Americans who understand the stakes for the Jewish State as well as our own, must reject her desperate and unacceptable bid to launch a Palestinian one at Annapolis.