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Kyle G. Brown

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Mahmoud Abbas, Meet Warren Buffett

Posted: 09/22/11 07:30 PM ET

You might think Palestine and President Barack Obama's mooted "Buffett Tax" have nothing to do with each other.

Well, you're right.

Except for one thing: Republicans have found a way to (unwittingly) combine the two -- with revolutionary results!

By dismissing higher taxes on America's wealthiest as "class warfare," right-wing Republicans are forcing rich folks to find a new bowl for spare change.

Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee Kay Granger provided the answer when she threatened to punish any Palestinian bid for statehood by cutting aid -- worth some $500 million a year. If President Mahmoud Abbas presses ahead, he'll preside over a gaping budget hole, which entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett, would be well-placed to fill.

It just so happens that this is the month that Obama laid out over a year ago as the deadline for the successful negotiation between Israel and Palestine for a two-state solution. (It was the same speech in which he said Israel's security "requires an independent Palestine.")

Naïve as he is, Abbas took him at his word.

Middle East peace talks have stalled not only for the past 18 months -- they have scarcely progressed in the 18 years since the Oslo Accords.

Make no mistake:
Nothing about Palestinian statehood would prevent it from re-entering negotiations. On the contrary, Abbas has made clear he has every intention of resuming.

The only reason one would have for insisting that Palestinians continue as a state-less people, would be out of a desire to see them barter from a position of weakness.

That's how Israel has been able to build settlements on the little land Palestinians have left, even as they pretend to seek a 'solution.' Seen through the cracks between circled wagons, Israeli conservatives have no incentive to alter the brutal imbalance of power that perpetuates Palestinian misery.

So Abbas must press on. And investors should welcome him with a conditional grant, and a contract, along these lines: "If, after gaining statehood, Palestine negotiates in good faith, this grant comes with no additional conditions... but if the recipient fails to engage in meaningful negotiations with Israel, the funds apportioned herein must be repaid -- with interest... "

Such contracts would replace the empty rhetoric with which slippery middle men cuddle the leaders of Israel and Palestine for photo-ops, only to disappear, leaving Palestinians to cope with ever-expanding Jewish settlements and other evolving "facts on the ground."

A deal of this sort -- or indeed any honest support from Israel and the U.S. -- would convince Palestinians that peace and patience do pay dividends.

On the other hand, America's dark political maneuvering, unchecked, will produce predictable results. Any blood shed in the Middle East any time soon will likely count among its causes the political duplicity that is now demeaning the General Assembly.

American and Israeli hypocrisy here has swollen to global proportions.
They condemn the "unilateralism" of a fledgling state that wishes to join the world's most multilateral institution. The U.S. vows to veto the bid -- itself, the most unilateral of diplomatic measures.

And they celebrate the upsurge of bravery and resolve in North Africa, while suppressing it with unparalleled cynicism in Palestine.

Come, Mr. Buffett, Palestine is open for business.
To honest brokers only.

 

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