Sustaining an Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Matthew Levitt - The cease-fire announced on Feb. 8 created a window of opportunity that will slam shut quickly if terrorists resume attacks against Israel. After four-and-a-half years of incessant terrorist activity, Israeli tolerance for negotiating peace in the face of ongoing attacks is nil. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have so far dismissed the cease-fire, and previously negotiated ones have all failed. Moreover, Iran and Hizballah are more proactively involved in recruiting, training, and financing Palestinian suicide bombers than ever before. Hamas has agreed to more than ten cease-fires since 1993, but not a single one has held. The willingness of Hamas to agree to cease-fires at certain times is understandable - all past truces were brokered during periods when the group needed a respite to regroup after Israel and/or PA crackdowns. During each of these cease-fire periods, Hamas leaders continued to support the main goal of the original Hamas charter (the creation through sanctioned violence of an Islamic state in all of "Palestine"). Cease-fires have traditionally served as breathers, allowing groups to rearm, replenish funds, and consolidate cells before undertaking further attacks. Taking action against these groups and preparing Palestinian security forces to contend with their continued attacks will be crucial to keeping this window of opportunity open. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Terrorism Studies Program at the Washington Institute.

2005-02-11 00:00:00

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