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Bombing in Netanya - Chaos in the Palestinian Authority

07/13/2005

The suicide bombing carried out in Netanya on July 12, like the London blasts of July 7, now revealed to be suicide bombings as well, both point to the same unmistakable conclusions about terrorism. They do not support the thesis of Robert Pape, that suicide bombers are aimed at national liberation or the thesis of Professor Eagleton, that suicide bombings are the acts of desperate altruists. The London bombers were apparently all native British Muslims, and not oppressed by any occupation. They were also, apparently, comfortably well off and not desperate in any way. Both bombings were attempts by terror groups to increase their popularity among their own constituencies.

The bombing had the predictable and inevitable consequence: the IDF invaded Tulqarm, which had been turned over to the PNA last March, arresting Islamic Jihad "militants" and killing a Palestinian policeman who opened fire. It is besides the point to blame the Israeli government. Needless to say, the IDF invasion will not contribute to peace and undersdanting, but this time, they really had very little choice, in view of the adamant refusal of the PNA to move against terrorist groups. A wave of suicide bombings that stops the disengagement would certainly not contribute to peace.
The target of the Islamic Jihad bombings was clearly the regime of Palestinian President Abu-Mazen and his Fatah party. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hastened to condemn the bombings:


"Those behind it were behaving idiotically. There is no rational Palestinian who can conduct such an act at the time Israel was withdrawing from ...settlements starting in Gaza and moving to the West Bank," he said, referring to upcoming Israeli withdrawal from occupied land Palestinians want for a state.



Clearly, Mahmud Abbas understands that the Islamic Jihad bombing was NOT aimed at ending the occupation. The Islamic Jihad are hoping the Israeli disengagement can be stopped, Abu Mazen will lose support among Palestinians and the Fatah, or at any rate, the moderate wing of the Fatah, will be overthrown and the extremists will be able to dominate Palestinian society formally as well as informally.

Unfortunately, Abbas was not going to do anything about the Islamic Jihad. He can't move against the Islamic Jihad or any other terrorist groups, because such a move would threaten the monopoly of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. For the same reason perhaps, Ben-Gurion did not move against the revisionists after the massacre of Deir Yassin in 1948. He did move later to sink ship full of arms, the Altalena, brought by the Irgun underground supposedly to support a coup attempt. However, Israelis who are momentarily expecting the "Altalena of the Palestinians" forget that this occurred only after a state had been formed, and the legitimacy of the government was assured. If Arafat, assuredly stronger than Abu Mazen, did not risk moving against Islamic Jihad, it is unlikely that Abu Mazen will do so. The Palestinian Authority will therefore be unable to meet its obligations, under the roadmap, to end terrorism. The problem is clearly recognized by the Palestinians themselves. Even before the bombing, Ghassan Andoni wrote in Bitterlemons:


But there is also a political angle. Many people, especially outside Palestine, believe correctly that in order for the Palestinian Authority to be able to fulfil its political and security obligations under any political agreement or plan, such as the roadmap, it would require the ability to enforce law and order. The government can only successfully deliver the people to an agreement if it can enforce the law.


The chaos and lawlessness of the Palestinian authority is not confined to failure to suppress terrorism. Only today, Palestinians kidnapped two foreign nationals as part of a dispute with authorities.

The violence occurs despite increasing popular support for peace. Danny Lubetzky of One Voice notes:


The number of Palestinians supporting suicide bombings against civilians has steadily declined ever since it skyrocketed to 86% in October 2000. Under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, who has taken strong steps against incitement, over 60% now opposes the path of terror. Seventy-six percent of the 125,000 Palestinians and Israelis that took part in OneVoice Citizen Negotiations supported a two-state solution

Unfortunately, public support for peace is not going to produce real results until it translates into practical political actions that make peace possible, and public opinion is fickle.

There is always a way out of the deadlock. Massive foreign pressure can provide a politically acceptable excuse for unpopular actions. Thus, Ben-Gurion was able to withdraw from Gaza in 1956 despite considerable domestic opposition because the United States insisted on it. If it is understood that Abbas has no choice other than to suppress the Islamic Jihad, Palestinians will accept it. This pressure can only come from the United States and the EU, but there has been no such pressure, just as there has been no real pressure on Ariel Sharon to destroy illegal outposts.

On the Israeli side, opponents of disengagement have been gradually turning on the pressure as the date approaches. A planned march of settler-supporters to Gush Katif caused the government to close access to the Gaza strip to outsiders. Settlers and their supporters have been occupying Palestinian houses and recently attacked a Palestinian youth, as well as police and IDF officers. The closing elicited a fresh wave of protest. One group offered a cash reward for soldiers who would refuse to participate in the disengagement. The "National Home" group planned mass disruption of traffic, a plan that was disrupted by a timely police raid. The Yesha council is still planning to carry out their march and confront the army, as I am reminded as I write this by frequent radio advertisements.

PM Sharon announced his determination to carry out the disengagement, but noted that it would be the last unilateral disengagement move, and that further Israeli withdrawals would depend on carrying out the roadmap, including Palestinian commitments to end terror.

The conjunction of settler opposition to disengagement, Sharon's announcement, the inaction of Abu Mazen and the determination of the Islamic Jihad to continue terror attacks can spell tragedy for the Palestinians. If the disengagement is carried out and is followed by a "third Intifada" that Abbas is unwilling or unable to control, it will be impossible to find any support for peace.

The Palestinians and Israelis are continually waiting for the United States or the EU to enter the play and save them from their own folly. Third parties cannot do that. They can't make the sides agree to final terms if the constituencies of each side disagree. However, the United States and the EU can use their awesome political and economic leverage to ensure that both sides keep to specific commitments in the road map agreement to which everyone is supposedly committed. Stopping the terror attacks is a specific Palestinian commitment. If there is no halt in the attacks, then Sharon is handed both an excuse and a quite legitimate ground for halting progress in Israeli withdrawal. The attack occurred from the territory controlled by the PA. Israel claims that the person who is responsible for the attack was wanted for a previous attack, and that the PA had been given his name and did nothing to stop him. In those circumstances there is no justification for pressure on Israel to make further concessions to the Palestinians.

Characteristically, the US Government, which has a considerable stake in the peace process, failed to appreciate the significance of the bombing. The State Department emitted yet another pro-forma announcement of regret and warning to Israel about exercising restraint, but made no visible moves to force Abbas to take action against the Islamic Jihad. During the previous (we hope it is previous) Intifada, the Israeli government got muscle cramps from exercising restraint. Ehud Barak bound his fate to the peace process and trod the path of restraint and negotiations to his political grave. He was replaced by Ariel Sharon. The disengagement has produced an unexpected switch. The fortunes of Sharon and his unity government, whether he likes it or not, are now tied to disengagement. Very likely, Sharon will have burned his bridges to his former allies on the right. If disengagement results in more violence, Bibi Nethanyahu, or someone much worse, will be waiting to do to Sharon what Sharon did to Barak, and to put an end to the last hopes for peace in our generation.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000363.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 2 comments

Dave,
Surely to determine which side "started the killing", there would need to be some agreement about the envelope of history. If we were to commence with the Beisan Massacres of the 1840's, or perhaps post 1860 and Tanzimat, or pre-WW1, or post 1917, or pre-1947, or post 1947 until now, the picture would change.
Who fired the first shot is irrelevant. How can we stop the violence on both sides is relevant.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/14/2005 04:48 PM CST

In reality, I don't think one can call the London bombings as suicide bombings. There wasn't a person or people strapped with explosives and blowing themselves up in a crowd to achieve some political change. By definition it is not even a terrorist attack.

There were no notes left to claim this as a Jihadi or any other group action. The only reason that it is assumed that the culprits are who they are is because their bodies were missing and yet objects belonging to them were found.

As a logical person, I have a hard time believing that anyone wanting to commit suicide in this criminal way would leave IDs leading the police to his family and home. Anyone can place belongings in a scene of crime. People can disappear from fear of being thought guilty. The photos show a net bias as they point to four Pakistanis, which may or may not be guilty. None of this shows any particular reason for this crime.

The second set of pictures also show a bias as they are all pointed as being Pakistanis when two turn out to be from Somalia and Eritrea. The killing of the Brazilian lad, simply because he came out of a house where suspected terrorist where housed, shows a very clear bias and racism. His family say that he was not wearing bulky clothes but a jean jacket, and the police have admitted as much.

What is happening in Israel is a very different situation as there terror has been used as a means of political pressure on all sides, whether it is to blame Israel or to recruit more Jihadis. The London bombings seem totally devoid of any specific reason. It could be the Iraq war, or it could not be the Iraq war. It could be Jihadis or it could not be Jihadis. It could be evil ideologists or it could not be evil ideologists.

As it is, if this was recruiting tactics, given the condemnation of Muslims across the globe, it has not achieved the goal. However, I would strongly recommend that the UK not use this to further its own political goals and in supporting a racist and biased policy against Asians, who for the most part live and work in peace. One cannot go back to the Nazi style propaganda of blaming whole ethnic groups or religions for the acts of a few.

Posted by Tamzin Jans @ 07/29/2005 05:14 PM CST


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