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Not exactly quiet, but nevertheless

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    Not exactly quiet, but nevertheless http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/345710.html By Ze ev Schiff Three weeks after the last suicide bombing, it is clear
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2003
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      Not exactly quiet, but nevertheless
      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/345710.html
      By Ze'ev Schiff

      Three weeks after the last suicide bombing, it is
      clear that Israel has been showing more caution in
      its use of targeted assassinations against Hamas
      and Islamic Jihad leaders. That is not to say that
      the government has backtracked from its decision
      to strike not only at those who carry out acts of
      terror but also leaders of the terror
      organizations; it seems as if the government is
      not interested in being seen by the public and by
      the world as being responsible for violating the
      "quiet" - which is not really quiet, neither on
      the Palestinian side nor the Israeli side, since
      there are targeted assassinations. Nevertheless,
      as stated above, three weeks have passed without
      any suicide bombings.

      Things are also happening in
      Hamas. It has been several
      weeks since any Qassam rockets
      have been launched from the
      Gaza Strip - a fact that does
      not merit much attention
      because the firing of mortars
      from Gaza continues and has
      even intensified. Some people
      are saying that Hamas has now
      made a decision to suspend attacks against what
      they themselves call "Israel within the 1948
      borders," and not strike at civilian targets.
      Terror attacks in the territories will
      continue, since Hamas does not consider the
      settlers civilians, but soldiers. If what they
      are saying is true, it can be seen as an
      interesting development - on the condition that
      it heads in a positive direction. In the
      meantime, Hamas continues to smuggle arms, fire
      mortars from the Gaza Strip and attempt to
      smuggle explosives from Gaza to the West Bank
      via Israel.

      Hamas, and not only Israel, has no faith that
      the partial calm will not suddenly be
      shattered. Their leaders in the Gaza Strip are
      looking for hiding places for fear of a sudden
      targeted assassination. Among other sites, they
      are looking for apartments in high-rise
      buildings in Gaza. Evidently, they are relying
      on Israel to exercise caution and not do what
      Hamas does at every opportunity - intentionally
      target masses of civilians.

      Arafat's attitude toward acts of terror,
      conversely, shows no change. Once again, there
      are numerous reports that aside from the
      diplomatic flag he is flying, the Palestinian
      leader is also bearing the flag of terrorist
      attacks against Israel. In so doing, he plays
      into the hands of the Sharon government. Were
      there to be a sudden large-scale terrorist
      attack, at the same time as Arafat continued to
      disrupt the stabilization efforts of the Ahmed
      Qureia (Abu Ala) government after having
      already brought down the Mahmoud Abbas (Abu
      Mazen) government, it is a virtual guarantee
      that the Israeli cabinet would take action
      against him, notwithstanding the UN General
      Assembly resolution that called on Israel not
      to do so. One group of the Tanzim understands
      that if they do not prevent terror attacks,
      these will bring about Arafat's removal. But
      since the Tanzim have turned from a single
      organization into a cluster of armed gangs, it
      is all too possible that the tone will be set
      by groups from Nablus and Jenin that have been
      penetrated by Hezbollah members with links to
      the Iranian Republican Guards.

      The current reality - in other words, the
      evasion of implementing reforms or the fight
      against terror, and Arafat's continued rule -
      has frozen any chances for a renewal of
      negotiations. There is no chance of the
      government of Israel agreeing to conduct
      negotiations with a leader that Washington,
      several European states and even some Arab
      states (albeit not publicly) consider the heart
      of the problem.

      Washington would be prepared to push for a
      renewal of negotiations on the basis of the
      road map if it were persuaded that the Qureia
      government had begun to fight terror, that it
      had real control over all of the security
      agencies and organizations, and that it was
      carrying out the reforms it is expected to
      implement. Washington is no longer willing to
      show patience for Arafat, but even in regard to
      Qureia, Washington and the quartet are adopting
      a forceful tone. While they were willing to
      give Abu Mazen and Mohammed Dahlan 90 days of
      grace before beginning to fight terror, they
      now expect the Qureia government (which has not
      even begun to function) to begin to act
      immediately. Abu Ala's tactics are different
      from those of Abu Mazen. He places emphasis on
      achieving a consensus in Palestinian society
      more than on external activity. He therefore
      needs Arafat's "umbrella." He is also acting
      forcefully among Israeli figures in order to
      gain the support of elements of Israeli
      society. For him, the protest of the Israeli
      pilots provided evidence of cracks in Israeli
      society that are worth trying to widen.
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