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June 15, 2006
Did They Run Out Of Rockets?

Less than a week after declaring an end to the "truce" with Israel -- a truce that allowed Palestinian terrorists to continue launching rockets at Israeli citizens -- Hamas has offered to resume the truce. This time, Hamas leaders will pledge to stop all other groups from launching separate attacks:

The Hamas-led government offered Thursday to restore a cease-fire with Israel, several days after calling off the truce to protest a deadly explosion on a Gaza beach, but said the calm would depend on Israel's response.

Hamas said it is ready to put pressure on other militant groups to halt rocket fire against Israel. The rocket attacks have drawn tough Israeli reprisals and raised the possibility of a broader conflict.

"This is very clear for us. We are interested to keep the situation and quiet, especially in the Gaza Strip," said government spokesman Ghazi Hamad. "We have contacts with the Palestinian factions. We are ready to do it, but (only) if the Israeli side has a strong intention to respond positively to the call ... to stop their aggression."

Israel welcomed the gesture. "If it is quiet, we will answer that with quiet," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry.

Hamas has belatedly realized that they had initiated a two-front war, one with their rival Fatah terrorists and the other with the IDF. Nothing has shown Hamas capable of beating either of them separately, and they certainly could not fight both at the same time. For a brief moment, Hamas had some hope that Fatah might throw in with them and Islamic Jihad in a united fight against Israel with the deaths of several Palestinian civilians that Hamas blamed on Israel. Unfortunately for PM Ishmael Haniyeh, president Mahmoud Abbas did not rise to the bait, and the explanation of those deaths shifted the focus from IDF shells to illegal mining of the Gaza beaches.

Both Hamas and Fatah have a big problem with their own people. They have had to resort to smuggling cash over the border to fund government functions, and they do not have the resources to fight a war against a modern, fully-equipped army like the IDF. The Palestinians now want to get paid so they do not lose what little they have to bankruptcy and foreclosure, and the rationing of pay will undoubtedly erode what little confidence the Palestinians have with their government. Despite smuggling $22 million into the territories in two successive days, it only comprises less than eight percent of what the Palestinian Authority owes in wages alone. Until Hamas proves it will renounce violence and recognize existing treaties signed with Israel and the West, their economic catastrophe has no hope of ending.

However, what seems to have finally prompted the Hamas offer was a warning from the Israeli defense minister that Hamas leadership would be considered open targets if hostilities continued. That apparently caught the attention of Haniyeh and his cohorts and convinced them to look for a way out.

So far, the Hamas government has produced a disaster for the Palestinians who voted them into power. People argue that the Palestinians voted for Hamas as a protest against the corruption of Fatah. However, even Fatah managed to make their payroll on a regular basis, and they also had made progress with the West in pressuring Israel for more creative solutions to end the 39-year impasse over the occupation. Now all of the goodwill has dissipated, thanks to Hamas, and if the corruption has truly stopped, it's due to the fact that no one has any money to steal.

Perhaps the Palestinians might learn a lesson from this debacle, but first they have to accept responsibility for it. If they truly want peace and a two-state solution, they need to start demonstrating this by electing politicians who also support that conclusion. Until now, they have shown no inclination to do so. Maybe those mobs in the street rampaging through the Palestinian parliament would be better served by forming a political party based on clean government and engagement with Israel and the world in order to get the soverignty they desire.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 15, 2006 12:41 PM

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