Abu Mazin at the White House

Today, Palestinian President Mohmoud Abbas made his first visit to the White House, the first such meeting since President Bush refused to meet with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Bush has promised $50 million to the Palestinians, a reward for Abbas' rejection of violence as a weapon against Israel.

From the NY Times:

''You have made a new start on a difficult journey, requiring courage and leadership each day. And we will take that journey together,'' Bush told Abbas in the first visit of the top Palestinian leader to the White House of his presidency.

Having visited Bethlehem, in the West Bank, before the outbreak of the second intifada, I can tell you that there is a crushing poverty in the Plaestinian territory. Israel is blamed for most of this, but in truth, it was Arafat's support (tacit or otherwise) of suicide bombers that forced Israel to close the border, thus cutting off the Palestinians from their jobs. Abbas has made the first move away from violence, and that alone is worth a mere $50 million.