Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, is attempting to rescue a suddenly tattered cease-fire with Israel. Last week, six Israelis were killed by a suicide bomb and one of many rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian militants. Israel responded with arrests, air strikes, and an assassination, killing eight militants.
I found that headline, “Abbas Needs Backup,” interesting in the context. The situation is that the Israelis shot at and killed some jihadist militants that were at the time engaged in a gun battle with Palestinian Authority forces. Isn’t that backup?
There’s precisely one authority that can save the cease-fire with nothing but a few words. That’s Mahmoud Abbas. Something along these lines would do it, “When we saw that these militants were engaging in illegal armed action, we asked our friends in Israel to assist us in a joint action to eliminate the threat.” The words don’t even have to be true the first few times he says them, for the message to be valid. The message: Militants that are the enemies of Israel and Palestine can’t expect to gun down Palestinian security forces then hide behind a cease-fire between peaceful Palestinians and peaceful Israelis.
To break the cease-fire over Israeli attacks against people that were fighting Palestinian security forces at the same time is utterly stupid. My words are an intemperate suggestion. I’m sure there are better ways to put it, but that is the message that needs to be sent – those that act illegally can expect to be attacked by both Palestinian and Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority will treat the Israeli action as support not aggression.
Israel could move things that direction by making the offer of “support” publicly before the next violence happens. Of course, they’d want to make it clear privately that the support is coming whether it’s wanted or not, but they are giving Abbas the opportunity to look like a partner not an impediment to peace.
If Abbas and the Palestinian leadership aren’t prepared to adopt a position something along those lines, given that they don’t have the power to suppress the militants on their own, then they aren’t really ready for peace.