Palestinians given yet another chance. Will they take it?

July 17, 2007

* More money and guns for Fatah

* List of 256 prisoners Israel agrees to release this Friday said to include a leader of the terror group that murdered the Israeli tourism minister at the Jerusalem Hyatt hotel in October 2001, and the leader of the group responsible for the 1974 Ma’alot school massacre in which 22 young Israeli schoolchildren were murdered – including some thrown out of school windows by the Palestinian terrorists

* With Israel getting nothing tangible in return, outraged Israelis turning against Olmert

 

CONTENTS

1. Fatah terrorists supposedly renounce use of violence
2. Organizers of Ma’alot school massacre allowed to roam free
3. Palestinians given yet another chance. Will they take it?
4. Likud’s popularity rises in Israel
5. Hamas’s support drops in Gaza
6. Terrorist convicted for preparation of suicide belt in hospital
7. “4,000 British citizens or residents trained at terror camps”
8. Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel...
9. ... But Israeli humanitarian aid keeps flowing
10. Egyptian al-Qaeda chief “flees to Gaza”
11. Other al-Qaeda related attacks in recent days
12. “They don’t need more guns, militias and Force 17s”
13. “Back to the Oslo illusion” (Yediot Ahronot, July 15, 2007)
14. “What to do now about the Palestinian Authority?” (By Khaled Abu Toameh, JCPA)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

FATAH TERRORISTS SUPPOSEDLY RENOUNCE USE OF VIOLENCE

Scores of Fatah gunmen in the West Bank have signed a pledge renouncing attacks against Israel in return for an Israeli promise to stop pursuing them.

The Israeli government led by Ehud Olmert is to grant amnesty to 178 wanted members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who will then join the official Palestinian security forces, and Israel will remove them from its lists of wanted terrorists, according to an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has carried out scores of suicide and other deadly attacks on Israeli civilians since Yasser Arafat established the group in 2000.

The Israeli cabinet committee headed by Olmert also officially announced this morning that it will release 256 Fatah prisoners this coming Friday, July 20.

The list of those to be freed is said to include Abdelrahim Malluh, the deputy leader of the terror group that murdered the Israeli tourism minister at the Jerusalem Hyatt hotel in October 2001.

 

ORGANIZERS OF MA’ALOT SCHOOL MASSACRE ALLOWED TO ROAM FREE

And in a further concession, Israel agreed to Abbas’ request to allow Nayef Hawatmeh to return to the West Bank without being arrested. Hawatmeh heads the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a PLO faction best known for seizing a school in the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot in 1974, and then massacring 24 Israelis there, 22 of them young schoolchildren – some thrown out of school windows by Hawatmeh’s group.

Media reports of Olmert’s presumed agreement to allow Hawatmeh not to be arrested have been met with outrage in Israel. Hawatmeh has until now never expressed remorse for his deeds.

Israelis are shocked at the number of known perpetrators of terror who are being “let off” while Israel’s captive soldier remains in Palestinian hands.

The editorial of Israel’s most popular newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, noted that the vast majority of terrorists who were released in previous exchange deals returned to their old ways despite signing pledges not to do so. The paper urges against a return to “the illusions of Oslo,” and advocates having as little to do with Palestinian affairs as possible.

For more criticism of the deal, see the first article below, titled “Back to the Oslo illusion”.

 

PALESTINIANS GIVEN YET ANOTHER CHANCE. WILL THEY TAKE IT?

The Jerusalem Post discusses the risks Israel is taking in exchange for the chance of peace with the Palestinians. “Ultimately, the Palestinians must decide if they want the state they claim to have been fighting for, or not. If so, they will have to begin waging peace rather than war, and will have to focus inward on building, rather than outward on attacking. As usual, all of us will lose if they make the wrong choice.”

In a televised speech yesterday, U.S. President George Bush announced the holding of an international conference this fall as part of a renewed drive for peace in the Middle East. And he said that the U.S. would be providing $190 million of aid for the Palestinians in the 2007 fiscal year, which ends on 30 September, and also specified that the U.S. would be making a contribution of $80 million for the Palestinian security services. Olmert’s spokeswoman welcomed this.

Washington is hoping to persuade Arab nations without diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to attend the conference.

 

LIKUD’S POPULARITY RISES IN ISRAEL

In the latest poll conducted for Ha’aretz, the support for the Kadima-Labor center-left coalition in Israel is falling again, and the opposition Likud party led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would surpass the 30-seat mark if elections were held today.

 

HAMAS’S SUPPORT DROPS IN GAZA

A phone survey of 408 randomly selected adult Palestinians in the Gaza Strip conducted between 10-12 July by Near East Consulting, shows a fall in support for Hamas in Gaza since the group seized power last month.

Although Palestinians said there was now less street crime, 56% of Gazans said that since Hamas took power, they felt unable to voice their opinion freely in public and 69% of Gazans said that the way Hamas had taken control last month was wrong.

63% of Gazans said they most trusted Fatah’s Abu Mazen (President Abbas) while 37% said they most trusted Hamas’s leader in Gaza Ismail Haniya.

If elections were held today, 45% of Gazans would vote for Fatah, and 22% would vote for Hamas, with the rest saying they would refuse to support either faction.

Strikingly, if Fatah reformed itself, 60% of Hamas supporters in Gaza said they would then support Fatah.

 

TERRORIST CONVICTED FOR PREPARATION OF SUICIDE BELT IN HOSPITAL

It is not only in Britain that terror attacks are being formulated in hospitals.

Yesterday Palestinian terrorist Murad Abu Rob was convicted in Israel under terrorism laws for the preparation of a suicide belt in a Nablus hospital as part of a suicide car bombing in March last year that killed four Israeli civilians in Kedumim.

Abu Rob had prepared the suicide belt, complete with screws and nails to maximize injuries to the victims, at a hospital in Nablus and transported the belt to the suicide bomber. In addition, Abu Rob together with other operatives produced the film of the suicide bomber prior to the attack. Abu Rob also housed the terror operative for a week before the attack took place. The sentencing hearing will take place on September 9, 2007.

No doubt President Abbas will campaign, and the international media will soon write, sympathetic stories demanding Abu Rob’s release.

 

“4,000 BRITISH CITIZENS OR RESIDENTS TRAINED AT TERROR CAMPS”

Up to 4,000 Islamic extremists have attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan or on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border before returning to Britain, many in the pre 9/11 period, reported the Sunday Telegraph, citing security sources.

Concerns over “sleeper cells” have been heightened since the failed “doctors’ plot” attacks in London and Glasgow two weeks ago.

Terrorists who are believed to have trained in Afghanistan include Richard Reid, from Bromley, Kent, and Saajid Badat, from Gloucester, who were both jailed for plotting to blow up aircraft with shoe bombs.

Andrew Rowe, a Londoner of Jamaican origin serving 15 years for terrorist offences, trained at one such camp in Afghanistan.

Dhiren Barot, brought up in London and now serving 30 years for plotting a “dirty bomb” attack in Britain, trained in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Others believed to have trained in Pakistan include Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7, 2005 London transport bombers; Muktar Said Ibrahim, the leader of the failed July 21 transport bomb plot, and most members of the “Operation Crevice” plot to blow up nightclubs or shopping centers with fertilizer bombs.

It was only last year that the British introduced counter-terrorism laws making it illegal to attend a terrorist training camp.

 

HAMAS CONTINUES TO FIRE ROCKETS AT ISRAEL…

Virtually unmentioned in the European and North American media, Hamas is continuing to fire Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians. Three hit Israel yesterday evening, including one that destroyed part of a residential home in Sderot. No casualties have been reported although several people have been treated for shock.

 

... BUT ISRAELI HUMANITARIAN AID KEEPS FLOWING

Contrary to false reports in several prominent western media, the Israeli army is continuing its efforts to help the humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip. In the latest aid on Sunday:

* Approximately 8880 tons of food, medical supplies, dairy products, flour, sugar, reproductive eggs, rice, cooking oil, straw and animal feed, raw food materials and construction supplies, were delivered to Gaza across the Sufa Crossing.

* Approximately 1050 tons of food, medical supplies, dairy products, meat products, fruit, cooking oil and reproductive eggs were delivered across the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

* Approximately 4180 tons of wheat seed were delivered across the Karni Crossing.

 

EGYPTIAN AL-QAEDA CHIEF “FLEES TO GAZA”

Agence France Presse, citing the Egyptian independent daily Al Masry Al Youm, reported that the head of al-Qaeda in Egypt, Khaled Mahmoud Ahmed, has fled the country for the protection of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

In recent days, Cairo’s metro system has been on high alert after a bomb threat against one of the stations, with bomb squads and sniffer dogs deployed and metal detectors installed at stations.

 

OTHER AL-QAEDA RELATED ATTACKS IN RECENT DAYS

Suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in three attacks in Pakistan at the weekend, after Islamic extremists called for holy war following a deadly army raid on a pro-Taliban mosque in Islamabad, which resulted in over 100 deaths.

On Sunday, the Algerian army halted an attack by around 50 al-Qaeda radicals on police stations and killed four in the troubled north eastern Kabylie region, the El Watan and Liberte dailies reported.

There were a number of bomb attacks on civilians in Iraq, including two car bombs which killed at least 80 people in a busy commercial area in the northern city of Kirkuk yesterday. Among other buildings, the blast destroyed the offices for the Kurdish Olympic committee. (Will the IOC condemn this? For more on the double standards in sport, see Football killing fields: International soccer singles out Israel.)

Also yesterday, a bomb rocked a market in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing several civilians.

In Lebanon yesterday, the death toll for the number of Lebanese soldiers killed in the battle for the Nahr Al-Barid camp with al-Qaeda inspired fighters reached 100.

A new al-Qaeda videotape posted Sunday on a radical website featured a short, undated clip of a weary-looking Osama bin Laden praising martyrdom. Bin Laden glorified those who die in the name of jihad saying even the Prophet Muhammad “had been wishing to be a martyr.”

Bin Laden was last heard from in a July 1, 2006 audiotape in which he voiced support for the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and warned nations not to send troops to fight the Islamic regime that had recently seized power in Somalia.

 

“THEY DON’T NEED MORE GUNS, MILITIAS AND FORCE 17s”

Attached as the second item below is a piece by Khaled Abu Toameh, titled “What to do now about the Palestinian Authority?”

Abu Toameh – who is a Palestinian journalist born in Tulkarem in the West Bank (and a longtime subscriber to this email list) – says the “Palestinians need good governance, better media, freedom and democracy, and to rebuild their civil institutions. They don’t need more guns, militias, and Force 17s. This is what I hear in the Palestinian street.”

He concludes: “The Palestinians need to get their act together and find a way to resolve their problems, and then Israel can talk with them. But under the current circumstances, if I was Israel I wouldn’t pull out from one inch of land because there is no strong and reliable partner on the other side.”

Abu Toameh’s piece below is based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on May 24, 2007 – before the Hamas takeover of Gaza in mid-June.

For more on Abu Toameh see When was the last time you saw Khaled Abu Toameh interviewed on BBC or CNN? (Jan. 4, 2006).

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

“WE SHOULD DISENGAGE FROM THE PALESTINIAN WORLD”

Back to the Oslo illusion
Israel’s immunity gesture will restore terror infrastructure in West Bank
By Guy Bechor
Yediot Ahronot
July 15, 2007

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3425515,00.html

The Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank has been embroiled in an existential ordeal for at least a year: The IDF’s successful nightly targeted killings, which employed the element of surprise, have completely impeded its operations.

Instead of plotting terror attacks against Israel or against Israelis, Fatah activists, particularly those operating within the ranks of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, as well as Jihad activists (Hamas is not particularly prominent in these activities) are busy seeking refuge, escaping and living underground in constant fear of the IDF. This is one of the IDF’s key successes in the war against terror that has completely shattered what has remained of the Palestinian Intifada.

The collapse of the terror infrastructures was very perplexing for the Palestinians because albeit it being originally established against Israel, it also represented Fatah’s strength against Hamas. Fatah demanded a truce from Israel that would also include the West Bank (and in exchange guaranteed progress in the Gilad Shalit affair – although it has no control over his destiny) and in any case asked for immunity for hundreds of persecuted activists.

Now Fatah activists will get what they wanted from the Israeli government. The West Bank will once again become an immune paradise; anti-Israel terror will be restored without interference and will pose a serious threat to Israeli society, which has experienced relative stability and calm in recent years.

DISENGAGE FROM PALESTINIANS

True, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to bolster Fatah and the nationalist stream vis-ΰ-vis Hamas, yet these very same people also perpetrate terror acts against Israel. The IDF knows from the experience it gained in prisoner release deals with Ahmed Jibril and Hizbullah that 80 percent of released Palestinians, all of whom had made a commitment not to be involved in terror, immediately resumed their terror acts against Israel.

In 2005, for example, a few prominent prisoners were released as a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas – yes, that very same Abbas. Within a month they were apprehended for preparing the infrastructure for firing rockets at Israeli communities in the West Bank, no less. They even climbed a rung in their acts of terror.

Why does this happen? For released prisoners, terror is livelihood, a way of life, their honor and self determination. Moreover, those released within the framework of a prisoner deal must prove that they have not changed; they must reaffirm their status, and the only way to do so is by means of perpetrating terror acts against Israel.

Perhaps the Israeli government has still not internalized the disengagement mentality that is required here, because any involvement in Palestinian issues on our part always ends in a big bang. What we think bolsters Mahmud Abbas usually serves to weaken him and vice versa. Moreover, will one immunity deal or another change the face of the huge conflict raging between the nationalist stream and political Islam in the Arab world?

As we are not familiar with the rules and as real risks to Israel’s security are at stake, such gestures should be avoided as should involvement in the Palestinian world - which is entirely delusional as far as we are concerned.

Should Israel worry about convening the Palestinian national council? Should it bring Naif Hawatmeh here? What’s going on? Have we returned to the delusional years of Oslo? These are delusions whose time has passed, and the Israeli government would do well to avoid the self-deception, the involvement and the ensuing disappointment that will inevitably occur when it all explodes in its face.

Israel would do well to announce it will no longer interfere in Palestinian life. Not in punishing Hamas nor in compensating Fatah; not in unnecessary targeted killings nor in delusional prisoner releases.

We should disengage from the Palestinian world, for better or for worse, and focus on ourselves alone.

 

WHAT TO DO NOW ABOUT THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY?

What to do now about the Palestinian Authority?
By Khaled Abu Toameh
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
July 12, 2007

www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=443&PID=0&IID=1619&TTL=What_to_Do_Now_About_the_Palestinian_Authority

• Within a few months after Abbas came to power, Palestinians started realizing that he was not delivering. Instead of fighting corruption, he surrounded himself with the same Arafat cronies. There was a decrease of perhaps 30-40 percent in the level of corruption but an upsurge in internal violence.

• The January 2006 election that brought Hamas to power was mostly about: “Let’s punish these Fatah thieves.” Hamas was building schools and kindergartens and clinics, while the PLO was building a casino and villas for its leaders. I believe some 30-35 percent of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas did so as a vote of protest because they were unhappy with the way the Palestinian Authority was running the show.

• Let Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO and Fatah start rebuilding their institutions, reform themselves, get rid of the corruption, and come up with a new list of candidates. Then run in another free and democratic election and offer the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas.

• The Palestinians do not need more guns and military training. If the U.S. has $86 million and wants to help the Palestinians, then help them build civil institutions, help them build freedom, educate them about good things. What’s the point in taking 200 Presidential Guards to Jericho to train them? Who are they going to fight at the end of the day? In Gaza they were defeated.

• What should Israel do at this stage? Nothing. There is no one to deal with on a serious basis on the Palestinian side. Abbas doesn’t even have control over his own Fatah militias. Israel should just sit and wait. Don’t repeat the mistake of unilateralism, when Israel left Gaza to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

• It is ironic that the West is supporting the guys who are suppressing the moderates and people who want democracy. The West is actually undermining its own goals.

WHEN ABBAS TOOK OVER THE PA

In the post-Arafat era there was a lot of hope among the Palestinians that the Palestinian Authority would become a better body. There was much talk of reforms and democracy, good governance, and an end to financial corruption. Mahmoud Abbas’ 2005 election campaign was about ending financial corruption and building good institutions. Palestinians saw Abbas’ agenda as aimed at repairing all the damage that Arafat had done.

Within a few months after Abbas came to power, however, Palestinians started realizing that he was not delivering. Instead of fighting corruption, Abbas surrounded himself with the same Arafat cronies. There was a certain decrease in the level of corruption, but it wasn’t enough.

Instead of bringing democracy and restoring law and order in the Palestinian areas, there was an upsurge in internal violence in 2006. For the first time, the number of Palestinians killed in internal fighting was even higher than the number of Palestinians killed in fighting with the Israelis. If a judge can’t issue an order because he’s afraid or if a Palestinian security commander can’t return a stolen bicycle, what kind of an authority is this?

HAMAS WINS IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

In January 2006 – at the request of the United States, the Europeans, and the international community – there were parliamentary elections and Hamas decided to run for the first time. Hamas actually copied the platform of Mahmoud Abbas from a year earlier and promised the Palestinians reforms and democracy. Hamas’ list was called Change and Reform, and Hamas fielded a very impressive list of candidates that included university professors, doctors, and engineers. If I were living in Gaza back then, I would have also voted for Hamas, not because I support suicide bombings and want to eliminate Israel, but because the January 2006 election was mostly about: “Let’s punish these thieves.” I know Christians, secular Palestinians, and PLO people who voted for Hamas because they were unhappy with the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinians felt they did not have much to lose by voting for Hamas. It is true that Hamas is a terrorist organization and a very dangerous ideological, religious, fanatic group. It’s true that Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Yet when I go to the West Bank and Gaza, I and most Palestinians still see the other side of Hamas, providing a vast network of social, economic, education, and health services. I have seen Hamas doing what the Palestinian Authority should have been doing with the international aid. Hamas was building schools and kindergartens and clinics, while the PLO was building a casino and villas for its leaders. So this is one reason why Hamas won the hearts and minds of many people in the election campaign.

But not all of those who voted for Hamas did so as a protest vote. Of course Hamas has its own supporters, especially in Gaza. There are many who really believe in Hamas’ ideology and that Israel can be eliminated. However, I believe that 30-35 percent of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas did so as a vote of protest against Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.

It is amazing that Condoleezza Rice did not see what any Palestinian child could see on the eve of the elections, namely, that Hamas was going to win. One day before the January 2006 election, I was asked by the Wall Street Journal to write a small op-ed about the elections and I wrote that the Palestinians were headed toward a regime change. Everyone here knew that Hamas was going to win.

So Hamas came to power and again there was some hope among the Palestinians. Maybe the Islamists would succeed where the secular PLO had failed? Maybe the Islamists would at least bring good governance?

HAMAS WOULD DEFEAT FATAH IF AN ELECTION WAS HELD TODAY

Yet the election created tensions between Fatah, who refused to give up power, and Hamas. I am confident that if we held another free and democratic election tomorrow in the Palestinian areas, Hamas would win again, and this time by a larger majority, because the man on the street is saying that no one gave Hamas a chance to rule. Besides, why should any Palestinian vote for the same Fatah people he voted out of office 18 months ago?

Immediately after the elections, the international community should have come to Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah and told them they lost the election because they are thieves, because their people don’t trust them anymore, because they failed to deliver. Let them start rebuilding their institutions, reform themselves, get rid of the corruption, and come up with a new list of candidates. Then run in another free and democratic election and offer the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas.

This remains the main issue for the Palestinians: reforms and good governance – even more than ending the occupation. There is a feeling that members of the Palestinian security forces are responsible for a lot of the anarchy and chaos on the Palestinian street and this also applies to Gaza.

PALESTINIANS NEED GOOD GOVERNANCE, NOT GUNS

The Palestinian Authority continues to be the largest employer in the Palestinian areas. Many institutions are continuing to function including the Ministry of Health and the Foreign Ministry. The Palestinians have 79 ambassadors around the world – much more than Israel. The real problem with the Palestinian Authority is not the civilian aspect as much as the security and judicial systems. This is where we have seen a near total collapse. The Palestinian security forces behave more like militias. Their loyalties are not known. In the fighting in Gaza, many Palestinian security officers refused to participate and there are reports that hundreds defected to Hamas during the fighting.

We didn’t have this under Arafat because he was a strong and charismatic figure who brought the Palestinians together. There was a feeling back then that you don’t mess around with the Palestinian Authority because Arafat is ruthless. But today you have Abbas who is very hesitant and weak and unwilling to carry out serious decisions. So people no longer relate to the Palestinian Authority in a serious fashion.

If the U.S. really wanted to help, the Palestinians do not need more guns. Everyone has guns, there are too many guns on the streets. The Palestinians don’t need more military training. If the U.S. has $86 million and wants to help the Palestinians, then help them build civil institutions, help them build freedom, improve their education system, teach them something positive. What’s the point in taking 200 Presidential Guards to Jericho to train them? Who are they going to fight at the end of the day? In Gaza they were defeated. Palestinians need good governance, better media, freedom and democracy, and to rebuild their civil institutions. They don’t need more guns, militias, and Force 17s. This is what I hear in the Palestinian street.

Arafat used to tell the international community: “Give me more millions and I will kill Hamas and Islamic Jihad; I will prevent all the suicide bombings.” He took the money and under him Hamas became even stronger. Hamas is in power today because of Arafat and Abbas. Giving Abbas guns and more millions of dollars is not going to help. Indeed, just by announcing that the West is going to give Abbas money, this is backfiring and causing him a lot of damage on the Palestinian street. It makes him look like a puppet and makes Hamas even more popular.

AL-QAEDA’S LIMITED PENETRATION OF GAZA

In Gaza we are seeing attempts by some Palestinians to imitate al-Qaeda more than the actual penetration of al-Qaeda. Various groups in Gaza are operating al-Qaeda-style. One is the Army of Islam, another is the Righteous Swords of Islam. Yet there is no real evidence that al-Qaeda itself is in Gaza, but some of these groups may be funded by al-Qaeda-linked organizations or global Jihad institutions. In the past six months over fifty Internet cafes have been bombed in Gaza. Women have had acid thrown in their faces. Four women were killed by Islamic groups in Gaza in the past four months. There is reason to worry because the border with Egypt is practically open and there are all these elements coming in and out.

Some of the reports about the presence of al-Qaeda bases are exaggerated. We saw how Fatah lied when it said it raided the Islamic University in Gaza and claimed that it found an Iranian general there. Some of these reports are being spread by Fatah as part of the war against Hamas and to frighten the West – “If you don’t give us money, look what you’re going to get in Gaza.”

IRAN AND FATAH

We hear about Iranian money coming into Gaza, but we don’t see any Shi’ite influence. There were individuals in Gaza and even in the West Bank who tried to establish Shi’ite groups, but we don’t see any impact.

Hizbullah is also involved, but most of the people taking money from Hizbullah are from Fatah in the West Bank. According to Hamas literature, Hamas doesn’t like Shi’ites and doesn’t like Hizbullah either, so Hamas is not taking money from Hizbullah. But I’ve interviewed several armed Fatah groups, especially in Nablus, and most of them were on the Hizballah payroll and said it openly. So money plays a very important role.

WHAT SHOULD ISRAEL DO?

What should Israel do at this stage? Nothing. Israel should stay away from the internal affairs of the Palestinians. There is no one to deal with on a serious basis on the Palestinian side. Abbas doesn’t even have control over his own Fatah militias, so what are you going to talk to him about? Israel should just sit and wait. Don’t repeat the mistake of unilateralism, when Israel left Gaza to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

I’m one of those who argued before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza that this would send the wrong message to the Palestinians and empower Hamas. Hamas came to power a few months after the unilateral disengagement because the man in the street was saying: “This is wonderful. Hamas has managed to drive the Jews out of Gaza with rockets and bombs, while the PLO has been negotiating with the Jews and they didn’t get as much. Look at what Hizbullah did in Lebanon. Kill them and they’ll give you more.” This is what worries me. Israel’s unilateral disengagement undermined the moderates throughout the Arab world.

I also don’t see any Arab country willing to send forces to maintain order in Gaza. The feeling in the Arab world is to try to disengage from the Palestinians.

The Palestinians need to get their act together and find a way to resolve their problems, and then Israel can talk with them. But under the current circumstances, if I was Israel I wouldn’t pull out from one inch of land because there is no strong and reliable partner on the other side.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.