The Right Coast

January 18, 2005
The Great Palestinian Hope -- Or is there anyway to avoid the need for a civil war?
By Mike Rappaport

Abu Mazen, the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA), has instructed the Palestinian security forces to stop the attacks on Israel. The question, though, is whether this instruction will be followed by real actions taken by the PA over time. In the past, it never has.

Unless the PA actually takes action against these attacks, there is no point in Israel negotiating with the PA. The attacks come from groups that are not willing to compromise with Israel. So an agreement with the PA that gives them land for peace will result in land for war unless the PA is willing to stop the attacks. That was Oslo. The PA must, at a minimum, take serious actions before Israel negotiates. (Of course, the failure of the PA to act would still allow Israel to take unilateral actions that it believes benefit it, such as withdrawing from Gaza and building a security fence.)

If the PA does act against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aksa, then this is very likely to result in a Palestinian civil war. This may be one of the principal reasons why Abu Mazen (with the support of many other countries) is reluctant to pursue this course. But there is no alternative. It is unfortunate, but it would appear that a precondition to Israel wisely negotiating with the PA is a Palestinian civil war, which the PA wins. Short of such a war, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would be likely to result in another Oslo disaster.