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Friday, July 13, 2007

'Tough love' for the 'Palestinian Authority'

Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh has a prescription for saving the 'Palestinian Authority' and it sounds like exactly the opposite of what Israel's Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert and US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice are trying to do. Olmert and Rice are trying to give the 'Palestinians' - particularly 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen and his Fatah terrorists a free pass. Abu Toameh, who is a 'Palestinian' himself, advocates a 'tough love' approach:
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.


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.
Abu Toameh also plays down reports of an al-Qaeda presence in Gaza and claims - as we saw earlier this week - that it's Fatah that's taking money from Hezbullah and not Hamas. All in all, this is an interesting article and it's worth it to read the whole thing.

Too bad the Olmert - Barak - Livni government is too busy fiddling to listen.


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