July 15, 2007

Fatah Militants Renounce Terror Against Israel

Mahmoud Abbas has worked quickly to consolidate power in the West Bank after shedding Hamas and Gaza last month. Abbas has had Israel remove 178 Fatah militants from their wanted lists, and in exchange, all of them have publicly renounced terrorism against Israel. Abbas also won another concession that may not please Israelis at all -- and could threaten Olmert's already weak position:

Scores of Fatah militants in the West Bank have signed a pledge renouncing attacks against Israel in return for an Israeli promise to stop pursuing them, a Palestinian security official said Sunday.

The deal would grant amnesty to 178 Fatah gunmen who will join the official Palestinian security forces, and Israel will remove them from its lists of wanted militants, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details of the agreement. ...

And in another gesture of support, Israel agreed to Abbas' request to allow Nayef Hawatmeh, an exiled Palestinian militant leader, to enter the West Bank this week for a meeting of a top Palestine Liberation Organization policy-making body, a step that Abbas hopes will provide him added legitimacy among Palestinians.

Hawatmeh heads the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small and nearly forgotten PLO faction best known for commandeering a school in the northern Israeli town of Maalot in 1974. The attack left 24 Israelis dead, most of them children, and helped shaped the attitudes of a generation of Israelis about the Palestinian leadership.

Both Abbas and Ehud Olmert apparently see this as a last chance for both leaders to make some sort of peace deal that will complete the isolation of Hamas' radical Islamists. Hamas apparently understands this as well, as it released a statement immediately afterwards proclaiming this agreement as an attempt "to destroy the spirit of the resistance[.]" More importantly, Hamas realizes that any agreement between Israel and the West Bank allows Israel to focus its military strength on Gaza and Hamas.

Abbas has cut Gaza loose, and Hamas knows it. Hamas badly miscalculated their appeal in the West Bank, and in taking Gaza allowed Abbas to marginalize them as traitors and rebels. It resolved Abbas' biggest headache and has gained him all of the international support Hamas lost when they refused to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel.

Israel has reason to engage Abbas now in hopes of ending the West Bank occupation on the best possible terms, now that Hamas and its extremists have been removed from the equation. However, this last concession may seriously inflame the Israelis. The DFLP has a well-deserved nasty reputation after Maalot, and it remains one of the worst atrocities in the long-running conflict. Hawatmeh's organization deliberately targeted those children in 1974, and the acquiescence of an Israeli government giving a DFLP leader safe passage will likely cause a backlash against Olmert.

For Abbas, though, it will give him even more legitimacy and draw with the Palestinians. It will show him as a man who can gain painful concessions from the Israelis, and in the long run could open the door to a real solution in the West Bank. That's still a long shot, especially since Abbas has been a master manipulator for years with these kinds of processes. The rise of Hamas may have forced his hand now, and if Abbas can deliver peace in the West Bank at some point, he will have gone a long way towards discrediting the radical-Islamist movement in the Middle East.


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Comments (6)

Posted by vet66 | July 15, 2007 10:13 AM

I am not optimistic about Olmert's chances of pulling this off. Israel is virtually surrounded by terrorist states committed to it's destruction. Historically, any sign of weakness, such as releasing terrorists and allowing a cold-blooded killer access to the enemy camp, is not in Israel's best interest. Iran and it's proxies, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, are itching to attack Israel this summer.

In all probability, Olmert is using the U.S. Carrier fleet to provide a screen for it's actions and figures it has nothing to lose. It is a risky gamble, nonetheless. This is Texas Hold'em at it's finest. Musharraf is on the prowl in northern Pakistan against Zawahiri's Red Mosque dodge, the surge is working under Petraeus, much to the chagrin of the left-wing democrats and a couple of weak-kneed Repubs trying to get reelected, andSiniora's Lebanese military is standing up to al qaeda types in the nahr al-bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli.

Al qaeda and it's ilk thrive on chaos. They rely on displays of weakness, particularly the rhetoric coming out of the left-wing democrats.

Al qaeda respects displays of power and force against them. That is their weakness. It is also anathema to leftists everywhere when winning strategies render their howls declaring " the war is lost" puts paid to these latte lapping cowards obvious hatred for the U.S., our military, and American ideals.

The louder they howl over their soy cappucinos the closer we are coming to success!


Posted by Philip | July 15, 2007 11:15 AM

Abbas must continue moving forward. He must take big steps with increasing speed. Any other path or delay will spell destruction for his people. His steps should be so bold as to be unthinkable, even by optimists, just a week before. He must lead this effort to a signed peace deal with Israel. He must do it soon. He has very little time. Will he save his people? Will he be a force for good in the world? Will he stomach Arafat his prize while he actually wins the peace? Will he love his bothers and sisters more than many of them hate the Jews? Could he become a hero?

He's in a dragster race. All gas, no brakes, little time, ever faster to win. Or.he.will.lose.

Posted by Lew | July 15, 2007 12:13 PM

And don't forget, Abbas can sign any treaty and make any deal that gets him to any short-term objective he wants, and he will be bound by none of them. The faith that guides his life demands of him that he lie to the infidel as a temporary expedient on his path to eventual conquest for Islam. Hudna provides the universal back door exit to any agreement he makes.

There is no such thing as a good faith agreement with a bad faith partner!

Posted by Carol Herman | July 15, 2007 10:05 PM

One thing I learned in gaza, is that the Hamas fights. WHile the Fart-ah, loaded with many millions in the latest American fire power; preferred "not to fight."

Now, we're gonna deal with Bush's next "two-state" speech.

Where I see that in Lebanon, one of the dozen palestinian refugee camps is now rubble. And, no, the other 11 camps did not erupt.

Seems that these idiots, for the most part, use their guns to shoot each other. And, to celebrate at weddings. Savages.

What's next? How the heck should I know? Olmert IS playing this game. About 220 prisoners are being released to Abbas as a "gesture." While no one has to release the Israeli troops that were kidnapped, by Fatah. And, Nasrallah.

No easy answers.

Also, no countries are showing up willing to hand out citizenship papers. I guess the show goes on?

Posted by hadsil | July 15, 2007 11:37 PM

Could it be true? Could it be that at least some Palesitinians are not failing to miss an opportunity?

Given the Palestinians are terrorists for any peace to happen Israel will have to deal with them, so there will be some decisions that are distasteful, but if it is true that Fatah will end their terrorism, then there's hope.

As a stereotypical analogy, whenever the police/prosecutors have multiple suspects, it is the first one who sings who gets the most leniency. Fatah may take that gamble. By being the first to end terrorism, they will get the accolades from the world, including the US. Achieving true legitimacy from even US and Israel will be powerful.

Posted by Ed Hausman | July 16, 2007 9:59 PM

Abbas doesn't need and may not want a Palestinian State. As long as the West pays him to keep the peace, the State can wait.

The Two-State Solution requires agreements on the "Right of Return" AND dividing Jerusalem AND Jewish communities over the Green Line. All deal-breakers, none currently even on the table for many Israelis.

Abbas MUST bring peace to the Arab streets, which means eliminating factional militias AND corrupt Fatah police. Let him accomplish that first, then we'll talk. If he fails, even his own people won't back him.