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April 17, 2005
Palestinian Amnesty Backfires, MPs On The Run

President Mahmoud Abbas' new amnesty program for fugitive militants has resulted in incentivizing new attacks, and the latest has put Palestinian parliamentarians on the run from Fatah's own al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists:

Armed Palestinian militants shut down a government building in the West Bank on Sunday and threatened to kill members of the Palestinian parliament, demanding the Palestinian Authority provide jobs to former prisoners and to relatives of people killed in fighting. ...

In the West Bank city of Jenin, about 40 militants gathered in the main intersection, firing into the air as several hundred sympathizers encouraged them. The armed men were led by Zakariye Zubeydi, the head of Jenin's branch of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades a militant group linked to Abbas' Fatah movement.

Zubeydi told the crowd he was ready to march on the offices of local parliamentarians. "In half an hour, if we find any of them in their offices there will be blood and then our only language will be the bullet," he said.

Zubeydi sent two of his armed henchmen over to the government building to make good on his threat, but the building manager had already sent the parliamentarians fleeing ahead of the attack. Zubeydi's men confiscated the keys to the facility.

Last month, Abbas created a program granting amnesty, jobs, and money to those AAMB members who turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority if they have fugitive status from Israel. On its face, this works, and it's similar to the amnesty programs that have been successful in Afghanistan. However, it creates new divisions among the terrorist groups as to the qualifications and limitations of the program. And in a region where terror and crime has created a huge unemployment problem already (25% by World Bank estimates), handing out jobs to only the most desperate of terrorists creates an obvious incentive to improve one's standing in the AAMB through attacks.

Whether or not it happened as a side effect of this amnesty program, the rate of lawlessness has increased since its inception. Last week, as the AP notes in its report, the AAMB went on a rampage in Ramallah, destroying businesses and shooting at Abbas' own headquarters. And bear in mind that these people come from Abbas' own faction of the PA. The amnesty, at least so far, doesn't apply to Islamic Jihad or Hamas terrorists.

The security situation in the territories shows that Abbas has no mandate to transform the West Bank and Gaza into a stable state based on democratic processes. Abbas cannot even gain control of his own faction's guns, let alone compel the competing terror networks to disarm sufficiently to ensure a cease-fire. His own parliamentarians have to run from their offices to hide from AAMB gunmen who want to burnish their credentials to qualify for the dole. As I have warned before, without a mandate for peace, Abbas can never hope to control the people who will give the Palestinians what they want: war. Until the Palestinians want peace, this Keystone Kops version of a state will be the only result.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 17, 2005 9:03 AM

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