On Wednesday, Israeli troops arrested 18 fugitive terrorists. Were these operatives of the evil Hamas movement or the Iranian oriented Islamic Jihad? No, they were members of the Fatah movement of "moderate" Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas; part of the Fatah Al-Aqsa brigades. Where they were arrested is even more interesting, since they were hiding in Palestinian Military intelligence headquarters, where they were supposedly going to be absorbed into the Palestinian Police Force!.
This raid points out one of the absurdities and double binds of an increasingly absurd situation. On the one hand, Mahmoud Abbas is supposed to be a "peace partner." In that capacity, the United States has been supplying his forces with arms. On the other hand, the Fatah remains committed to "resistance" (=terrorism) against Israel. When your "peace partner" attacks you, or harbors terrorists, what are you supposed to do? And after you do it, how do you meet your "peace partner" for further talks? True, these people were supposed to be absorbed into the Palestinian police force. This absorption was supposed to happen in 2005. It is not happening. If some Al Aqsa brigade members join the police force, others are quickly recruited for the role of terrorists. Security in the Palestinian authority turns out to be a comic opera farce in which the police and the terrorists are the same people in different uniforms, guarding themselves against themselves. Of course, there have also been too many instances in which Palestinian police in police uniforms have attacked Israelis.
After Abbas succumbed to Hamas demands and agreed to allow Hamas to take over the PLO as well as forming a government with them in the Mecca agreement, the question of "who is the good guy?" in the Palestinian Authority must be addressed with new urgency. Israel and the United States have to rethink their attitude to Mahmoud Abbas. If he wants support as a moderate, he must show some signs that he has earned that support.
Ostensibly in order to support moderates against extremists , donor countries poured a billion dollars a year in aid into the Palestinian Authority during the five years of violence that began in 2001. The only apparent result was, effectively, to finance the violence. Without that money, would the Palestinian Authority have been even more co-opted by Iranian or Iraqi extremists? Maybe. Or maybe, if the pragmatic Fatah had realized they could not get away with the charade, they would have kept to the agreements under which they had supposedly renounced violence.
Real good guys are in short supply here apparently. But a peace process needs a peace partner, so some bad guys were re-cast for the needed role.
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