what’s the point of negotiating with him?
Modified from an article published on National Review Online (June 12, 2002)
I was a big-firm business-litigation attorney for nearly a decade. My favorite case matters are those that promptly move towards a negotiated settlement between or among parties who each emerge with something constructive, resulting in a "win-win" outcome. After the parties negotiate their agreement, we attorneys document the settlement and the parties' respective concessions. Invariably, we insert into each settlement agreement a paragraph that seems so obvious, that an attorney omitting it could risk a claim of malpractice:
In plain talk, each party to the agreement affirms that he or she has the authority to negotiate the agreement, the authority to offer concessions in return for counter-concessions, and the authority to enforce the concessions and promises he makes. This seems manifestly sensible, even obvious: Why would a party offer concessions and bargain away claimed rights if the adversary cannot deliver counter-concessions he promises?
Warranty of Authority to Execute Agreement. Each person executing this Agreement on behalf of an entity or individual and/or in a specified capacity hereby warrants and represents that he or she has been granted the power and authority to make and enter into the agreements and releases contained herein for said entity or individual in the capacity set forth herein, and that this Agreement will be duly authorized, executed, and delivered by such entity or individual, and at the time of delivery will constitute legal, valid, and binding obligations of such entity or individual and does not and at the time of
delivery will not violate any provisions of any law, agreement, or judicial
order to which such entity or individual is a party or is subject.
Which brings us to the Middle East and Mahmoud Abbas. We may leave for another day the question of whether the "Palestinian people" actually are Arabs in Judea and Samaria, Arabs in Jordan, or the Jews of Israel. Too, we may leave for another day the question of why Arabs demand "self-determination" for Abbas's followers, even as the Arabs of Algeria deny self-determination for Berbers, the Arabs of Iraq deny self-determination for Kurds, the Egyptians oppress the Copts, the Iranians repress the Bahais and Baluchis, and the Sudanese Muslims enslave Black Christians. For the focus here is more basic:
Even if Abbas were elected legitimately, even if his "people" deserve a place at a negotiation table, it remains preposterous to expect Israel to negotiate with a guy whose best excuse for being at the table is "Don't blame me for Hamas terrorism being incubated within my Authority because I cannot control it." If he is not the instigator but the victim of a structure of terrorism intricately rooted into the soul of Palestinian Arab society and uncontrollable, then there is no point negotiating peace with him. By his proponents' own words, at best he intends well but cannot deliver peace. If Abbas cannot deliver the goods, then Israel cannot reasonably be expected to offer him concessions and abandon preciously guarded rights in return for peace promises and treaties that are destined to fail ab initio because he lacks enforcement authority.
In the end, Abbas finally has maneuvered himself out of the playing field. If he cannot control the terrorism of Hamas, it is pointless to negotiate with him.