Saturday, January 22, 2005

A First Sign of Hope

Today the news is saying that Palestinian Authority is making a show of force in the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas and other militants from using the Gaza strip to launch attacks into Israel. This is in conjunction with an offer for a cease fire.

Whatever the original source of the conflict the situation has been revolving around two basic facts.

+ There has been a continuous series of terrorist attacks by different organizations affiliated or claiming affiliation with the Palestinian cause into Israel.

+ The Israelis launch counter attacks to retaliate destroy base areas and enemy units, and to also hold portions of land in the West Bank and Gaza.

Attempts to break this deadlock have run up against two obstacles.

+ The Israelis will not accept any settlement that does not guarantee the end of the attacks into Israel. Israel has a democratically elected government. If an agreement is made and the attacks to not stop, the government will have to either abrogate the agreement due to Palestinian non-compliance or be replaced by one that will. Despite the opinions of a few hot heads Israel will accept the return of the Gaza and West bank territories with rock solid agreement to end the attacks. But there have been enough false starts that most participants in the process are extremely doubtful.

+ The Palestinians Authority cannot accept any agreement that does not include the eventual return of Gaza and the West Bank. The extreme elements in the Palestinian community will attempt to violently overthrow any Palestinian leadership that makes an agreement not to their approval. Additionally many of the extreme elements are not subordinate to the PA and have enough force to maintain this independence. They will simply ignore the agreement.

Any sort of agreement is doomed to failure, the Israelis will insist that any cease-fire must apply to ALL groups supporting the Palestinian cause, some of which will reject it and continue the violence, which the Israelis will see as a Palestinian abrogation and retaliate. The Palestinians will see the Israeli counter attack as an abrogation of the agreement and we are back where we started.

Since the Istraelis will respond favorably to a change of behaivor by the Palestinains and signicant elements of the Palestinian community will not respond favorably to change of behavior by the Israelis the only possible lever to achieve peace is to have a Palestinian Authorty with the ability and political will to control all groups that allege to be working for the Palestinian cause.

The attempt by the PA to actually control the attacks by other organizations is the first step to acquiring the strength that will enable it to make an agreement that will bring an Israeli evacuation and stop the terrorist attacks. A small first step, but the most positive one in years.

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