Israel Pays Cash for Palestinian Non-Violence Preparatory to Easing IDF out of West Bank

Even in Middle East terms, the turnaround which has produced a new American master plan was amazingly swift. The Bush administration, egged on by the Saudis, believes it has set in motion a complicated process for manipulating Israel into easing its forces out of the West Bank.
This is stipulated by Hamas and Jihad Islami as their condition for halting Qassam missile attacks on Israel. Above all, it will open the way for Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and the Islamist Hamas to negotiate an end to their feud. Only last month Hamas, which is still branded a terrorist organization in Washington, tossed Fatah-ruled governing institutions out of the Gaza Strip after a brutal internecine war.
The Israeli government’s compliance with this plan, which would ideally also halt Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel, is behind President George W. Bush’s Middle East statement Monday, and the Olmert-Abbas Jerusalem meeting midday. The US president sees his two-state vision as feasible only if Fatah-West Bank and Hamas-Gaza can come to terms since neither can form a viable Palestinian state without the other.
It also explains the incoming president Shimon Peres’ apparent lapse when he said to AP Sunday, July 15, the day of his swearing-in: “We must get rid of the territories.”
Defense minister Ehud Barak is going along with Olmert. They hope it will result in a quiet Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank without the agonizing confrontations of the 2005 pullback from the Gaza Strip, although no one is guaranteeing an end to Palestinian terror.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and US Gen. Keith Dayton, the president’s security coordinator in the region, are playing an active part behind the scenes in developing the process.
debkafile outlines its stages.
Last week, Olmert announced 250 jailed Palestinians, excluding Hamas gunmen, would be released as a gesture of support for the Palestinian leader. In another gesture, Palestinian Liberation Organization faction leaders – all radicals and including at least one master-terrorist fugitive – will be allowed to travel to Ramallah.
Sunday, the first of the 178 wanted Palestinian terrorists, including 150 of the violent Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, paraded the handing over of their weapons and signing of pledges of non-violence. The gunmen exited the show armed with nothing more than cell phones for the benefit of television cameras. They did not display the money in their pockets, around $6 million of Israeli cash. Each Palestinian gunman was paid up to IS.100,000 ($24,000) for surrendering his sidearm out of the tax funds Israel released to Fatah prime minister Salim Fayyad.
For this price, the 178 and certainly none of the 2,500 al Aqsa members, were required to give up their caches of explosives, roadside bombs, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades. That was left for the second stage and will entail a much higher ransom.
Washington sees nothing amiss in making Israel pay through the nose to terrorists. After all, the US is spending good Saudi cash to win the support of Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq.
In Israel’s long experience however Palestinian terrorists never stay bought. Already debkafile‘s Palestinian sources report that the “disarmed” al Aqsa gunmen are getting ready for more monetary demands, failing which attacks will be resumed. Their pretext will come out pat: Israel is reneging on their immunity deal.
The direction Washington is forcing on Israel is betrayed by a telltale anomaly. Three days before the group of terrorists handed in their weapons, Israel forces halted the pursuit of all wanted terrorists on the West Bank. Officially, only these Fatah terrorists were granted a three-month amnesty on probation, so why did the IDF give up hunting Hamas, Jihad Islami and Palestinian radical Front gunmen as well? After all, the object of the amnesty exercise designed in Washington was presented as necessary to bolster and arm Mahmoud Abbas’ Ramallah-based Fatah government against those very rivals.
To explain this, debkafile‘s military sources disclose another concealed element of the plan.
In the interests of the maneuver, the Fatah al Aqsa Brigades secretly incorporated armed Hamas and Jihad Islami adherents, boosting their number to 4.500. Olmert, Barak, Gen. Dayton and Abbas himself played along with misrepresenting the amnesty as applying only to 178 Fatah members in order to make it more palatable in the US and Israel and open the way for stage three of the master plan. After they took the pledge, the remaining 4,320 are still armed to the teeth.
Thousands of Fatah will now don fresh uniforms and join up with the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, purportedly to fight radical terrorists and quell violence. Their main incentive for pretending to go straight is a regular wage, presenting Israel with a monthly bill running into many millions of shekels.
They are also demanding a prestige boost.
According to our sources, Gen. Dayton has promised these apparently reformed 178 terrorists – not smart suits and ties, but advanced military hardware, armored vehicles and 4x4s equipped with state of the art communications gear for them to lord it over the West Bank.
Sunday night, July 15, there were reports that Israel was now being asked to give Palestinian security forces the freedom to range over the West Bank. In other words, the IDF is under pressure to abandon its highly-successful system of manned military roadblocks and checkpoints and counter-terror arrest raids, which reduced almost to zero the years of Palestinian suicide attacks in which Fatah played a leading part.
The elements are therefore in place for beginning to ease Israeli troops out of the West Bank and requiring them to hand over the responsibility for fighting terror to the Palestinians.
Prime minister Olmert has performed the difficult task of putting Israeli opinion to sleep while quietly embarking on a dangerous gamble with national security. Once it is discovered, he relies on the public’s faulty memory not to recall the abysmal failure of every accord Israel forged with the Palestinians for ending terrorist violence in the past seven years, in 2000, 2003 and 2005. Each broke down in an upsurge of hostile violence in support of ever stiffer demands for more Israeli concessions.
President Bush and his secretary of state are badly in need of tidings that can be presented as a big breakthrough for their Middle East policies, however short term. They will therefore push their plan through over the coming weeks. Olmert and Co. will not dare rain on their parade.

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