Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A confederacy of cowards

These two deserve each other

'Haniyeh is scared of being assassinated by Israel.' What about the resistance, Mr. Prime Minister?

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has limited his public appearances because he fears being targeted for assassination by Israel, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"He is frightened by the Israeli forces," Ghazi Hamad told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "He's scared of being assassinated ... so he is taking precautions."

Haniyeh has kept a low profile in recent weeks since Israel resumed a campaign of airstrikes against Palestinian rocket squads and other Hamas targets in Gaza.

Over the weekend an IAF missile landed close to Haniyeh's home. Israel denied he was a target.

But Hamad, on a visit to Britain before heading to Cairo to take part in talks between Hamas and its moderate rival Fatah, said the Hamas leadership felt unsafe after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's comments on Sunday that "no one is immune."

"We don't trust Israel," he said.

Hamad said Hamas was open to agreeing a "comprehensive" cease-fire with Israel if it stops military operations in Gaza and the West Bank.

"If Israel accepted a comprehensive cease-fire, people will stop firing rockets," he said.

Mr. Haniyeh bravely accepts that the civilians he governs will be killed in collateral damage when Israel retaliates against Qassam rocket fire (not to mention how bravely he allows the Qassam crews to target Israeli civilians). How is it possible that he shies away from unstinting resistance when his own life is in the balance? Did he not declare just last week that, "We will keep to the same path until we win one of two goals: victory or martyrdom"?

At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas behaves with equal cowardice.

Many Palestinians, among them Fatah officials, blame Abbas for what they describe as the disintegration of the PA. They say that his failure to display the qualities of a charismatic leader has turned the PA into a "joke" in the eyes of most of his constituents. They point out that Abbas's real problem is not the lack of money and soldiers, but his failure to make controversial decisions.

Abbas and his aides in Ramallah have lost much of their influence over the PA security forces, not to mention the scores of Fatah-controlled militias that are responsible, among other things, for the ongoing state of anarchy and lawlessness.

Under the current circumstances, the millions of dollars that the US is investing in training and arming Abbas's "Presidential Guard" are likely to go down the drain. A security force that can't arrest a car thief will never stand up against Hamas.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the Israelis and the Palestinians have no hope of a peaceful future together unless both Hamas and Fatah are scoured out of Gaza and the West Bank. Perhaps Fatah can be sent back to Tunisia and Hamas to Damascus, where they can each plot their eventual reconquest of Palestine and Israel over endless cups of tea and puffs on the hookah. That is, if they aren't sent instead to their respective eternal rewards.

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