Consolidating the Palestinian-Israeli Ceasefire

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Michael Herzog - * The ceasefire hangs by a very thin thread. The first order of the day for Abbas is to define it clearly, formally, and in terms equally understood and subscribed to by all the militant factions and by Israel, and to avoid setting a debilitating timeframe for it. Abbas can and should draw on Palestinian popular support for his policies, which Hamas is not likely to ignore while striving to establish itself politically in the upcoming parliamentary elections. * Israel is willing to give Abbas a chance and provide him with supportive measures, in large part because it sees him as a needed partner to secure its smooth pullout from Gaza. But ultimately the ceasefire will not hold long if Abbas leaves it hinging on the goodwill of the extreme militants or tries to appease them through the release of funds and other measures. They need to know that he is willing to enforce the ceasefire, or else they will break it whenever they feel like it. * Abbas must restructure and consolidate the numerous corrupt and inefficient security services; appoint new, competent leaders; and train and educate the forces. Without such reform it is difficult to see him establishing his authority, assuming security responsibility in West Bank cities, and taking effective control over Gaza. Reform should not include, however, the intended incorporation into the security forces of militant fugitives who are prone to reengage in terror. * The current ceasefire does not forbid the militant groups from developing their own capabilities through manufacturing, testing, or smuggling. If not checked, they will utilize the ceasefire as a respite to enhance their own power, and then employ it to undercut Abbas's position and policies and to turn the Israeli disengagement from Gaza into a better starting point for the resumption of their violent attacks. * The Palestinian leadership should therefore develop a meaningful security plan that will take on the terror infrastructure, and prepare to implement it by the time the Israelis pull out of Gaza. This plan is in the PA's own interest and is a stipulation of the first phase of the Roadmap. IDF Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog is currently a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute.

2005-02-18 00:00:00

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