Hamas Won’t Stop Terrorism

Hamas won’t stop fighting (Pravda – News from Russia)

A top Hamas leader today said that the Islamic militant group had no plans to disarm, adding that the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, had no authority to order an end to attacks against Israel. The comments by Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, complicated Abbas- efforts to persuade militants to declare a cease-fire.

Abbas, who hopes to restart peace talks with Israel, was elected in a landslide victory on Sunday. While Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he was ready to meet with Abbas, Israel was pressuring him to crack down on Palestinian militants as a condition for resuming peace negotiations. Abbas has resisted calls to confront militants, preferring instead to persuade them to halt attacks, reports the Scotsman.

I found this via GoogleNews and would like to get a more authoritative account than Pravda, which is also featuring such “news” features as “Jesus Christ Born in Ukraine” (with color photo of said infant), “Pregnant for Half a Century,” and “Soviet Army Fought UFO’s.” History and stories like this one make it believable, though:

Sharon’s phone call to Abbas sparks new wave of violence (Scotsman)

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, yesterday phoned Mahmoud Abbas to congratulate him on his election as Palestinian president and offer co-operation, the highest-level contact between the two sides in nearly four years. But even as the two leaders extended efforts to make peace, Palestinian militants resumed rocket and mortar fire at Jewish settlements in Gaza. The attacks signalled tough challenges ahead for the moderate Mr Abbas and his appeal for a truce to help revive peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state.

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A senior Israeli security source said Mr Sharon was ready to hand over most occupied territory to Palestinian policing – meaning a halt to army raids and removal of checkpoints – if Mr Abbas demonstrated “a 100 per cent effort” to subdue militants. But while Mr Abbas wants a ceasefire, he has rejected Israeli demands to crush the militants, calling them “freedom fighters” whom he wants to integrate into the Palestinian mainstream. Aides say Mr Abbas would gain more leverage over militants if Israel stopped expanding settlements in the West Bank and proved it was ready to talk about a viable Palestinian state, not just security co-ordination to protect Israelis.

Mr Abbas took 62.3 per cent of the ballot in Sunday̢۪s election of a successor to Mr Arafat, the patriarch of the Palestinians̢۪ statehood struggle who died in November. But powerful Islamic militants boycotted the vote and refused to suspend attacks on Israel. They wasted no time subjecting the new Palestinian president to his first test, firing seven rockets and mortar bombs into Jewish enclaves in Gaza and one rocket into an Israeli border town yesterday, causing damage but no casualties. The resurgence of rocket fire after an election lull and the threat of more Israeli army counter-strikes could, if not swiftly checked, stall the post-Arafat diplomatic momentum.

Abbas is in a tenuous position, to be sure. If he cracks down too hard on the terrorists, he’ll lose his people. If he doesn’t crack down hard enough, though, he’ll quickly lose whatever chance he has for peace and an independent Palestine.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.