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Peace is folly without both sides aboard

Just as Thanksgiving and Christmas come around with predictable regularity, so, too, do Middle East peace summits arrive near the end of modern presidencies.

Bill Clinton had his, and now the Bush administration is treading where previous fools have trod with what appears to be the diplomatic equivalent of a shotgun wedding in Annapolis, Md.

These gatherings never bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That's because only one side wants peace. The other wants pieces of Israel, chipping away at its borders until it can gobble up what remains of the country.

Liken it to a neighborhood plagued by gang violence. After repeated assaults on the residents and a rash of home burglaries, the gangs propose a deal. If homeowners remove their burglar alarms, dispose of any weapons they have for protection and vacate their houses, allowing gang members to move in, the gangs promise not to engage in any more violence. Who would make such a deal?

The so-called Palestinian side brings nothing to the table. It has yet to fulfill a major pledge made at previous summit meetings. If the Palestinian side were applying for a bank loan, they would be turned down for defaulting on prior loans. Only in the twisted logic of Middle East 'diplomacy' is their credit undamaged.

How deep into denial is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she promotes a charade that can only damage Israel and bring the region closer to another war? What could possibly persuade her that the Palestinian side is serious about making war no more and living in peaceful coexistence with Israel? Certainly not their actions, or their Holocaust denial, textbook and media slander of Jews and repeated assertions that Israel must be destroyed.

There are 22 Arab states. Will a 23rd bring stability to the region? There is no evidence - none - that the establishment of a Palestinian state will end the violence. On the contrary, it will signal the end of Israel, because it will show to Israel's enemies that the perpetrators of violence and the breakers of promises are never held accountable. Why shouldn't those who hate Jews and other 'infidels' regard Annapolis and every other such gathering as steps on the road to Israel's oblivion?

It is Israel - and Israel alone - that receives pressure to make concessions. The only pressure on the Palestinian side is to show up at these road shows in order to be handed another pound of Israeli flesh. It isn't a piece of land that the Palestinians want. It is all the land. They say so. Through six wars and numerous intifadas and other terrorist attacks, the Palestinian Charter, sermons, newspaper editorials and many other outlets, the message is clear: Israel is an illegal occupier of Muslim land and must be evicted by any means necessary.

The United States and the rest of the diplomatic world that believes there is an as-yet undiscovered formula that will tame Israel's enemies is self-deluded to the point of self-destruction. Having destroyed Israel, it won't end there. Crazed Islamic fanatics will sign up in droves for the 'honor' of coming to America to blast away at our foundations. In fact, according to our ludicrously named Department of Homeland Security, they are already here because we willingly let them in under the same misguided creed that guides U.S. policy in the Middle East. If we just show them how welcoming and wonderful we are, they will see we mean them no harm and change their minds about killing us.

Republicans mocked such sentiments when the left suggested in the '80s that unilateral disarmament would persuade the Soviet Union we meant them no harm. Now, members of the Bush administration are applying this same illogic in Annapolis and expect a positive response. It, too, deserves derision.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces possible indictment at home for allegedly trading political favors for a large discount on a home he purchased in Jerusalem. If he buckles in Annapolis to pressure for more concessions without first demanding the Palestinian side live up to previous agreements, his actions will move from alleged malfeasance to a sellout of his country's interests.

E-mail nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas at calthomas@tribune.com.