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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Disarray Among the Palestinians

At the New York Slimes, it's always Israel's fault:

Fatah, the late Yasir Arafat's movement, is split, while the militant and political group Hamas is gaining strength by the day. The teeming Gaza Strip, recently evacuated by Israeli settlers, is on the verge of civil war. For some Israelis, this is proof that they don't have a negotiating partner and ought to move ahead with Mr. Sharon's plan to separate Israelis and Palestinians by putting a security barrier around areas that Israel wishes to keep and withdrawing from the areas it doesn't want. But reality isn't that simple. Israel has a stake in keeping Palestinians from descending further into chaos.

So far the only reaction from Israel has been the same refrain, this time issued by the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who says that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, must do more to crack down on terrorism. Mr. Abbas has not been a very effective leader, and the Palestinian Authority has been riddled with corruption and incompetence. But it has also been systematically undermined by Israeli policies since the second intifada began. Mr. Sharon's military attacks in the West Bank and the isolation of Yasir Arafat stripped the self-weakened Palestinian Authority of much of its remaining capacity for governing.

Any elected government stands or falls on its ability to deliver security and jobs, and the authority was left unable to provide either. When Mr. Abbas came to power and said the things Mr. Arafat could never bring himself to say about Palestinian violence's being counterproductive, Israel gave him only marginal support. Israel is right to press Mr. Abbas to follow up his words with deeds, and to do more to crack down on terror, starting with his own Fatah movement. But Israelis also need to recognize that he is not politically or militarily strong enough at this time to achieve victory.

Is there no end to the Slimes' tolerance for terror so long as it is here in Israel R"L and not in their backyard?


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