The NYT reports:
There is a pointed joke making the rounds of Palestinian politicians here. Mr. Arafat is riding in a car with Mr. Abbas, when he spots an obstacle. “Abu Mazen, there’s a tree in the road!” Mr. Arafat cries, using Mr. Abbas’s nickname. But the car continues on its way. Mr. Arafat’s warnings grow more frantic.
Finally, the car hits the tree, and as the two Palestinian leaders stumble from the wreckage, battered and bruised, Mr. Arafat turns to Mr. Abbas and says, “Abu Mazen, I told you there was a tree.”
Mr. Abbas replies, miserably, “But you were driving.”
It has suited the vision of the White House and Israel for the last four months to seek peace as though Mr. Abbas, not Mr. Arafat, was driving.
Unfortunately for the policy, it also suited the interests of Mr. Arafat, according to some Palestinian politicians and analysts. Doing so deflected the blame for Palestinian misery, as well as any failures of the peace effort, to Mr. Abbas.
Unfortunately, democracies (and psuedo ones such as the Palestinian Authority) get the leadership they deserve. Until some alternative Palestinian leader takes power who realizes that the most basic element of a modern state is a monopoly on the use of force (meaning that he has the courage to arrest the gunmen who want to destroy Israel), it is the Palestinian people who will continue to suffer the worst.