The blood still boils at the sights that came out of Gaza when Israel invaded in March. At least 107 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians. Houses collapsed on their inhabitants. Hamas went underground, so that the "strongest army in the Middle East" again found itself in a dirty war against unarmed people.
Israel has no solution to its Gaza problem. It cannot afford to re-occupy the Strip, exposing its soldiers to guerrilla attacks. Short of that, it cannot stop the rockets. Now we can comprehend the function of Annapolis in November: the conference established a framework enabling PM Ehud Olmert to pepper his incursions with protestations of peace. In America he is Dr. Jekyll, in Gaza Mr. Hyde. Or to vary the tale, his tailors meet daily with the tailors of PA President Mahmoud Abbas to patch a suit they can hang in the closet till Hamas magically dissolves. The emperor meanwhile remains unclothed: Israel remains unwilling to withdraw from the lands conquered 40 years ago—the minimum the Palestinians require.
Responsibility for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rests squarely on the side of the former. In every political process undertaken since the conquests of 1967, Israel has tried to break the legitimate Palestinian will for statehood. The acme was the Oslo Agreement, in which it co-opted the PLO leadership. This co-optation paved the way—through many vicissitudes—to the Hamas electoral victory in January 2006. It was US President George W. Bush, we recall, who promoted those fateful elections. The result was not to his liking. He responded by preparing a coup against Hamas, giving Fatah's Muhammad Dahlan $25 million to build an armed force in Gaza. In June 2007, Hamas pre-empted, the Fatah militia folded, and its remnants fled to the West Bank.