Palestinian Terrorists Capture Strongholds for Revolt against Abu Mazen

The Palestinian revolt staged against Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) by radical terrorist groups is taboo around Ariel Sharon. The Israeli prime minister and his following have invested too heavily in Abu Mazen’s survival to allow any doubts to creep in that might deflect them from their chosen course of disengagement, starting in Gaza Strip.
Israel is therefore doling out concessions and confidence-building gestures to help Abbas gain his feet. They are also turning at least half a blind eye to the armed strength building up in Palestinian areas by the same forces that are challenging the new Palestinian leader. As time goes by and Abu Mazen proves incapable of a strong hand, the rebels are pulling ahead of the game and have reached the point where he is their hostage.
It is these extremists, heads of 13 Palestinian terrorist groups, who are dictating terms for a ceasefire at the round table free-for-all Abbas and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman have been leading near Cairo since Tuesday, March 15.
They are also holding Palestinian-Israeli negotiations captive.
The agreement reached by new Palestinian interior minister, Nasser Yousef, and Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz to transfer Jericho, followed by Tulkarm and Qalqilya, to Palestinian security control gives the Palestinian terrorists free rein to build up their arsenals and war chests for their next violent onslaught and eventual bid to dominate the Palestinian Authority. Even if this is accomplished through the ballot box next July, the rebels have declared they will not lay down arms.
Jericho like Jenin and other West Bank towns has no orderly Palestinian chain of command waiting to move in on the disparate groups and gangs.
Every Israeli roadblock or checkpoint taken down eases terrorist movement and their ability to strike. Yet Israel timed the handover of Jericho to give Abbas’ Egyptian sponsor a card to play in the Cairo conference
The rebel-terrorists groups challenging Abu Mazen fall into two categories:
Gaza Strip – Hamas, Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Fronts and the Popular Committees, especially their armed wings, Abu Rish Brigades and Hizballah cells.
West Bank – Fatah renegades of the Tanzim and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, as well as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Fronts and Hizballah.
The northern West Bank has become a virtual rebel stronghold encompassing Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya as well as parts of Ramallah and Jericho. Abu Mazen loyalists like Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan and Nasser Yousef know better than to venture into rebel country – even with their usual heavy bodyguard escort – for risk of being run out of town by volleys of automatic gunfire.
Abbas comes to the task of imposing the rule of law and fighting terrorists virtually empty-handed. The foreign powers building a coherent and unified Palestinian force have barely begun their task. Abbas’ reluctance and shortage of muscle to put down the revolt have left the West Bank and Gaza Strip under two conflicting forms of rule – the Palestinian Authority and the armed rebel terrorist chiefs. The formal negotiations Israeli ministers hold with PA counterparts are of little practical import. Palestinian forces on the ground will overturn any understandings that they see as leading to amicable understandings.
Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major-General Aharon Zeevi called a spade a spade this week in a chat session with viewers of an Arabic-language Israeli website.
He spoke of an “extremely worrying paradox.” The more Sharon and Mofaz cede to the Palestinians, the more intense their preparations for the next wave of violence. Palestinian attacks have dropped in volume but their terror capabilities are greater now than they were under the leadership of the late Hamas leaders Rantisi and Yassin – or even Arafat. By now, they are ready to swing into full-scale action against Israel at 24 or 48 hours notice once given the order. Clinging to the hope that Abu Mazen will deal with the violence could cost Israel dear, the intelligence chief warned.
The general warned that explosive tunnels are primed for detonation in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian terror groups are in the midst of an all-out effort to develop missiles for targeting central Israeli cities – mainly in Jenin and Nablus.
The Zeevi paradox applies to Mofaz’s offer to hand over Jericho, Tulkarm and Qalqilya. “Handover” is a misnomer because there are no Israeli troops in any of those Palestinian towns; they are stationed outside and go in when it is necessary to round up terrorists in active operational mode – a task Abu Mazen keeps on ducking. In the middle of courting the terrorist rebels, he has no intention of confronting – much less disarming – them.
Just hours after the Mofaz-Yousef Jericho deal Monday night, March 14, Abba dropped his bombshell in Cairo. He announced his intention of freeing the jailed killers of Israeli tourist minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001 and Arafat’s treasurer who arranged financing from the Karin-A arms smuggling ship intercepted by Israeli commandos in the same year. The confessed prime mover of the assassination was Ahmed Saadat, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian. In 2002, he and Ahmed Shubaki were incarcerated in Jericho jail under US-UK custody, as part of a deal brokered by the two powers to bring Israel to lift its siege of Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters.
When Israel threatened to re-arrest the men if they were freed and hinted at calling off the Jericho handover, Abu Mazen’s aides claimed he had been “misunderstood” – then “misled.” It is more than likely that he was neither and really means to unlock the jail doors to the four terrorists. He knows that to make good on its threat, Israel forces would have to capture Jericho from Palestinian rebel forces, called euphemistically “fugitives.”
This ruse was worthy of Abbas’ wily predecessor Arafat, whom he served for decades.
Like him, Abu Mazen is working on two complementary tracks – putative peace diplomacy with Israel with the added value of attracting contributions to the Palestinian treasury from donor-governments, while at the same time withholding a crackdown against terrorists. Instead of instituting the promised reforms of the Palestinian Authority, to bring all its security services under one gun and one law, he is giving the terrorists a chance to regroup for new attacks against Israel.
Arafat used a similar tactic of using terror to extract “peace” concessions from one Israeli prime minister after another – Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Now it’s Sharon’s turn to have a Palestinian leader pull the wool over his eyes.
Although the revolt against Abbas is the obverse of the armed campaign against Israel and is being waged by the same hands, Israel is doing nothing to crush it or even contain the violence before it is unleashed.

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