make abbas into a collaborator

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    Make Abbas Into a Collaborator
    Ariel Natan Pasko
    11 June 2003

    Who is George W. Bush to talk about military actions?

    Bush has the gall to criticize Israel for trying to assassinate Abdel Aziz Rantisi, political head of Hamas. White House spokesman Scott McClellan just called Hamas an "enemy of peace."

    And we know what Bush does to enemies. Let´s not forget that he sent in the American military to take over a country - Iraq - basically, just to get one person, Saddam Hussein.

    According to a recent five-week Associated Press investigation, there are at least 3,240 civilian war casualties across Iraq, although the figure is disputed. "Did the Americans bomb civilians? Yes. But one should be realistic," said Dr. Hameed Hussein al-Aaraji, the new director of Baghdad´s al-Kindi Hospital. "Saddam ran a dirty war. He put weapons inside schools, inside mosques. What could they do? It was a war," he said. "This is the price of liberty."

    Commenting on the Rantisi attack, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz said that President Bush would never take such a stand regarding American citizens facing terror, noting that the difference between Israeli and American operations is that while Israel waited for an opportunity to hit Rantisi with a minimum of peripheral damage, an American operation would simply have dropped a bomb on top of Rantisi´s house, killing everyone there.

    It was also reported on Israel TV that Israeli helicopters used smaller missiles to minimize civilian casualties. Had they used the larger standard missiles, when Rantisi fled the car it wouldn´t have helped him, and he certainly would have been killed.

    At the recent Aqaba summit in Jordan, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abbas called for an end to the armed uprising. Following Aqaba, the Palestinian terrorist groups - Hamas included - announced that they would continue their terrorist atrocities against Jews. Hamas and the others vowed not to disarm. "We will never be ready to lay down arms until the liberation of the last centimeter of Palestine [till the end of Israel]," Rantisi said. Abbas wanted to talk with Hamas after Aqaba, but was rebuffed. Rantisi said, "We reject any meeting with Mahmoud Abbas until he abandons all commitments to his Aqaba statement."

    So Rantisi made himself fair game.

    He has, in fact, been fair game for quite a while already. Even acting opposition leader, Labor MK Dalia Itzik, said the night of the assassination attempt on Israel TV, "I don´t know why Israel waited so long." So why exactly is Bush so upset? It threatens his Road Map? Well, Rantisi threatens the lives of many, many Israelis.

    Just to prove how defiant and dangerous he is, speaking from his hospital bed after the attack, Rantisi threatened revenge, "We will continue with our holy war and resistance until every last criminal Zionist is evicted from this land. By G-d we will not leave one Jew alive in Palestine. We will fight them with all the strength we have. This is our land, not the Jews," he told the Arab TV satellite station Al-Jazeera.

    Rantisi also called on all Palestinian terrorist groups to "kill Israeli political leaders", while his movement issued a statement demanding Abbas´ Palestinian Authority freeze all contacts with Israel. He also said that George Bush is "the biggest terrorist of all" for encouraging Sharon.

    So, it´s a zero-sum game.

    Let people like Rantisi live and ´work´ and Jews die; many, many Jews die. Or, assassinate him - what Israel calls a ´targeted killing´ - and save Jewish lives.

    Not a very difficult equation, even for someone poor in math.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, speaking after the attempted assassination, made clear Israel would not restrain its troops from retaliating against the terror groups, despite American efforts to push forward the peace plan inaugurated by Bush, Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba. Israel will "continue to fight the heads of the extremist terrorist organizations, those who initiated, those who fund, and those who send terrorists to kill Jews," Sharon said.

    When asked about the attack on Rantisi, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, Raanan Gissin said, "He is an enemy of peace, an enemy of everyone who seeks peace in the Middle East. We actually are saving the peace process by trying to take out such people." He accused Rantisi of plotting the recent terrorist attack by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Brigades that killed four Israeli soldiers in Gaza. According to Israel´s Channel 2 Correspondent Udi Segal, Israeli officials say that in addition to Hamas leader Rantisi, who was targeted and wounded, Israel has also decided to kill the top man in the Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

    But strangely, Abbas didn´t see it the same way. "Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas condemned the criminal and terrorist Israeli attack today," Abbas´s office said in a statement issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Notice, killing terrorists is now ´criminal´.

    Gissin also said that Israel was forced into such action because Abbas was not stopping the attacks as required by the Road Map. Israel had demanded a quick response from PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas following the recent deadly attack in Gaza. An Israeli government spokesman said after that attack that future terrorist acts would "destroy the Road Map" and the peace process.

    Israel said Abbas must immediately begin arresting terrorists, break up their organizations and disarm the Palestinians.

    But Abbas stated at a Monday news conference - after Aqaba and the attack on the soldiers - that he would try to persuade the terrorists to end their attacks, but he would not take them on forcefully.

    Well, why not? That´s what´s he agreed to do by accepting the Road Map.

    The Road Map states, "In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel."

    All Israel did in attacking Rantisi was help Abbas and the PA a bit.

    The Road Map continues, "Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere... Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption." Let me repeat, "...undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain... Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror..." That doesn´t include taking them on - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others - forcefully? And didn´t Abbas just promise at the Aqaba summit, "We will exert all of our efforts using all of our resources to end the militarization of the intifada... The armed intifada must end..."

    If he really wants to steer the Palestinian ship-of-state into peaceful waters, doesn´t he have to fight the terrorists?

    For some time now, there´s been a debate within Israeli intelligence, as to how close Sharon and the Israeli government should get to Abbas. In an intelligence briefing just after Abbas was confirmed as prime minister, Israeli intelligence recommended that the government not be seen as too supportive of Abbas. They said that Arafat is still overwhelmingly popular in the Palestinian street; that Mahmoud Abbas has little popular support, and if he´s seen to be too close to Israel, he would be branded a collaborator. Let me remind you here, that the term ´collaborator´ when used by the Palestinians is a death sentence. For years, since the Palestinian Authority took over in Gaza and parts of Judea and Samaria - the West Bank, they´ve been using the accusation of ´collaborating with Israel´ for everything from killing off the local criminals, to settling clan disputes. Dozens, if not hundreds, of Arabs have been killed by their own people through the accusation of being a collaborator.

    And that gets to the gist of it: Why should Israel keep Mahmoud Abbas at arm’s length? Why should Israel not want to be seen supporting Abbas over Yasser Arafat?

    Why worry about Abbas being labeled a collaborator?

    Isn´t that what ´Peace´ between the Israelis and Palestinians means? Israel and Palestine living peacefully side-by-side, and extremists like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Arafat himself, and his Fatah-sponsored al-Aqsa Brigades and Tanzim, disarmed, criminalized, sidelined, or eliminated. Terrorism stops, negotiations continue, and the Palestinians get a state.

    Doesn´t PA Prime Minister Abbas want to be a peace collaborator?

    They´ve been playing this game since the signing of the first Oslo agreement. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority already committed themselves to an end to violence and incitement against Jews and Israel. They were given weapons to create a ´strong police force´ to instill law and order in their areas, and to suppress the terror groups. Then we found out that Arafat and the PA were directly involved in funding and planning many of the attacks, and did nothing to suppress Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others. So, Israel and America - pulling Europe along scratching and kicking all the way - sidelined Arafat, and pressured the Palestinians into appointing a prime minister, Abbas. The Quartet - the US, EU, UN, and Russia - whipped out their Road Map for Peace, and Bush rushed off to two summits, one with the Arabs in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt and one with Israel and the PA in Aqaba. Well, doesn´t that make Abbas a ´collaborator´ for peace? What good will he be, how will he be any different from Arafat, if he can´t be too close with Israel, if he can´t suppress the terrorists?

    But the Americans, like Abbas, also see it differently. "We are concerned that this type of activity [attacking Rantisi] will delay the plan of progress we are hoping for as we move down the Road Map," Secretary of State Colin Powell told a news conference in Buenos Aires. Bush told reporters, "I am concerned that the attacks [against Rantisi and other terrorist leaders] will make it more difficult for Palestinian leadership to fight off terrorist attacks." Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Bush was "deeply troubled" by the attack. "The president is concerned that the strike will undermine efforts by Palestinian authorities and others to bring an end to terrorist attacks and does not contribute to the security of Israel," the White House spokesman told reporters.

    Let me see if I´ve got that. According to Bush, trying to kill terrorists will undermine efforts to bring an end to terrorist attacks and does not contribute to the security of Israel? Okay, I think I got it.

    Yet, at Aqaba, Bush said, "Prime Minister Abbas recognizes that terrorist crimes are a dangerous obstacle to the independent state his people seek... He has promised his full efforts and resources to end the armed intifada. He has promised to work without compromise for a complete end of violence and terror." So why does it bother Bush, why is he "deeply troubled" if Israel helps Abbas a bit?

    Well, it comes down to this:

    Do Abbas and the Palestinians really want peace with Israel? Does the rest of the Arab world?

    Are the Americans and others being honest brokers?

    If so, then ´collaborating´ with Israel should be seen as an honorable occupation, just like Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan were involved in. If it´s ´collaborating´ with all the filth and traitorousness the word implies to most Palestinians, then don´t expect peace anytime soon.

    As a matter of fact, just after the Aqaba summit, thousands demonstrated in Gaza to protest "the treasonous speech" of the PA prime minister.

    And we have a glimpse of their true feelings. Recently, the results of a Pew Global Attitudes Project opinion poll - taken in May 2003 - of 15,000 citizens of eight Arab and Muslim countries (Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria and Morocco and the Palestinian Authority) were published.

    These results show what the real obstacle to peace is.

    80% of Palestinians agreed with the statement: "The rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the State of Israel exists." 90% of Moroccans, 85% of Jordanians and 72% of Kuwaitis also agreed with the statement, as did solid majorities in Lebanon, Pakistan and Indonesia. The State of Israel needs to be destroyed.

    I, personally, don´t believe the Palestinians and the Arab/Muslim world want peace with Israel. ( opinion as well......Snooker)

    I believe the polls, I hear their statements, and I see their murderous actions.

    But, for those Israeli leaders like Sharon who are still trying to make peace, and those Americans and Europeans working so hard to bring the two sides together, I can only wonder why they don´t want Abbas to become a peace collaborator. The PA under Mahmoud Abbas´ leadership must begin to fight Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the half-dozen other terror groups. I personally don´t think they will. But if they really want peace, they should appreciate Israel´s contribution to the effort. The attack on Rantisi was just such an example. Maybe, in the near future, Israeli helicopter gunships, with PA ground forces, will be working together to eliminate the terrorist menace.

    Or maybe not.

    Let´s not forget that what the Palestinians call being a collaborator, the rest of the world calls making peace. So I say, "Make Abbas into a collaborator!" Or know that peace just ain´t comin´ any time soon.
    Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master´s Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at
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