strange bedfellows

I knew that there was something different about the situation when the terror groups adopted the language of the hudna for their cease-fire. Even as comitted a partisan as Yourish has acknowleged that there are tangible results.

But there certainly is a dark cloud to the silver linings. An article in Ha'retz raises some important cautionary points in its analysis:

... the present hudna has given these [terror] organizations a similar political clout that the suicide bombings gave them - a lever to dictate policy. Joining the Palestinian Authority may deprive them of this power.

This new power balance puts both Israel and the PA in a position they tried to avoid in the present and previous intifada. Israel is conducting negotiations with the PA although the terrorist attacks are continuing, while the PA is forced to give in to organizations it regards as an ideological enemy.

The struggle is therefore for time and achievements. In less than three months, the organizations will consider themselves exempt from the hudna and the PA will have to decide if it is fighting them or joining the Palestinian public that supports them.

Israel's objective is to make the PA's decision unbearably difficult. This will not be accomplished by tight-fisted negotiations over the release of prisoners, staging fake evacuations of mock outposts, the bluff of easing up on the traffic restrictions or dragging out the talks. Israel and the PA are now engaged in a tug-of-war with the opposition
groups for Palestinian public opinion.

This is the time for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to demonstrate leadership and turn the "painful concessions" into real acts. Otherwise the hudna will be merely a brief interval for cleaning weapons.

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