August 12, 2002


If truce gauntlet thrown, will PM pick it up? (Bradley Burston, 12/08/2002, Ha'aretz)
The militant Islamic Hamas and Yasser Arafat's Fatah may be close to curbing their deadly strikes against civilians in Israel, but with signs of early elections in the Jewish state and a hawkish image to burnish, will - or can - Ariel Sharon rise to the diplomatic challenge of a calming trend? [...]

If Hamas consents to such an understanding, "I believe we are speaking of a total halt to attacks on civilians within the state of Israel," said Arab MK and ex-senior Arafat advisor Ahmed Tibi. He said the powerful Islamic organization could give its answer in a matter of days.

The draft document coincided with an unprcedented paroxysm of internal criticism within Arafat's Palestinian Authority. In recent days, ranking Palestinian officials have begun speaking out against the institution of the Authority itself. West Bank and Gaza natives like Fatah lawmaker Fares Kadura have proposed dismantling the PA altogether, arguing that Arafat's current leadership lineup - which led the PLO from the Palestinian diaspora until signing peace deals with Israel in 1993-4 - placed self-perpetuation over the plight of their hard-hit constituents. The calls for breaking up the PA came from quarters as high-profile as Hanan Ashrawi, long a prominent spokeswoman for the Authority.

Asked when Hamas might signal its agreement to the document, Tibi told Army Radio: "They are closer than they have ever been in the past." He said that Hamas had helped word the document, "and I believe it is a matter of days until they will give their answer regarding the substance."

The draft document includes a clause endorsing Palestinian independence within the 1967 borders, an apparent departure for Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and is explicitly dedicated to an Islamic Palestine encompassing the borders of present-day Israel as well as the territories.

The key to any negotiation is that at the point it begins one side or the other has already won. Sharon has his little victory. The attacks on Palestine worked--terrorist violence has lost its popularity because the response is so formidable. The US's delegitimation of Arafat has succeeded--people are finally asking why their own leaders have done so little to improve everyday life instead of focussing on Israel as the culprit.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 12, 2002 10:07 AM
Comments for this post are closed.