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August 31, 2006
Abbas: End The Rocket Attacks

Two days after the official spokesman of the Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority castigated terrorists for turning Gaza into a chaotic nightmare, PA president Mahmoud Abbas demanded an end to provocations against Israel:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has launched a scathing attack on armed groups that are firing rockets from the Gaza Strip, saying Wednesday they were responsible for bringing death and destruction to the Palestinians.

Addressing thousands of demonstrators outside his office in Ramallah, Abbas said, "So far we have about 250 martyrs in the Gaza Strip and thousands of wounded people and destroyed houses. Why? What are the reasons for this? Let's start searching for the reason for all this."

Abbas was referring to the number of Palestinians who have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit in June. His comments, which were interpreted as criticism of Hamas and its government, came hours before Abbas headed to the Strip for talks with PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on forming a national-unity government.

Abbas described the rockets that are being fired into Israel as "pipes" that provided Israel with an excuse to carry out military operations in the Gaza Strip. "Our people don't deserve these tragedies," he said. "If these pipes provide an excuse, it's time to stop using them."

Individual responsibility appears to be quite a fad these days in the territories. Ghazi Hamad raised eyebrows by blaming his fellow Palestinians rather than the Israelis for the poverty and deprivations of Gaza in particular, and the territories in general. Hamad went further than Abbas, but both have turned their rhetorical guns on the men who wield the literal guns, and rockets, and suicide bombs that have forced the Israelis into war in Gaza.

Abbas wants to form a unity government with Hamas in order to end an economic embargo on the Palestinians. That's what makes this speech remarkable; he addressed it to a group of demonstrators who demanded back pay after the embargo hit government employees. Normally Arab politicians would attack the United States, Britain, and Israel as the source of their woes. Instead, Abbas criticized the armed militias that fight each other when Israel fails to present a better target for their hatred.

This might demonstrate that Israel's new response to acts of war have brought dividends. Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist groups got surprised by the full-scale war that Olmert fought, even if he did fight it with less vigor than he should. The real losses and consequences of their provocations have brought a momentary clarity to some Palestinian leaders, who finally have publicly questioned the actions of the terrorists and the detriment of their alliance with them. It isn't a renunciation, but the first step to solving a problem is its recognition -- and it appears that Abbas and Hamad might be ready to take the Palestinians past that first step.

Of course, that doesn't stop UN chief Kofi Annan from trying to stop the real progress by insisting that Israel stop responding to acts of war waged against their civilian citizens. Annan demanded that Israel stop hitting back because Israel is more effective than the Palestinians:

Annan said after the meeting that the IDF had killed more than 200 Palestinians since the end of June, adding that this "must stop immediately." He said he fully agreed with Abbas that "the end of occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel is the key to resolving all the problems of the region. We have to implement all Security Council resolutions and that includes, of course, Resolutions 242 and 338."

It would help, however, if the PA honored the agreements it has already signed with Israel and publicly recognize its right to exist. It would also help if the Palestinians stopped shooting rockets into Israel, something they have done ever since the Israelis left Gaza. Annan appears to have absorbed none of this, and undermines the nascent impulses of Hamad and Abbas to accept responsibility for Palestinian actions. The 200 deaths wouldn't have happened if the Gaza Palestinians had spent their time creating law and order and a functional government rather than fire missiles at Israeli civilians and shoot at each other.

Annan, as always, works for the peace of annihilation.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 31, 2006 5:00 AM

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