The U.S. and the Roadmap's Call to Dismantle the Terrorist Organizations

(Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University) Roni Bart - * It is apparent that the U.S. will not insist on dismantling the terrorist organizations as a stipulation for advancing the political process. "Dismantling" refers to the Israeli demand to declare the terrorist organizations illegal, confiscate their weapons, apprehend their leaders and activists, and cut off their financial sources. However, the more that Hamas strengthens its position and political involvement, the more that American willingness to accept it as a partner in the dialogue will overcome the demand to dissolve Hamas as a terrorist organization. * For twenty years Hizballah has been defined as a terror organization, but the American administration said and did nothing against its participation in the Lebanese elections. Washington appears to accept with quiet blessing the integration of terror organizations into the political system, even if they have not laid down their weapons and renounced their intentions. The theory that holds sway in the U.S. is based on the very American hope that terrorists can be transformed into moderates. * The U.S. will not ostracize Abbas (as it did Arafat) if he fails to disarm the terror organizations. Bush's September 2001 statement that "we will not distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them" has been valid only for al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime. Syria has been protecting terrorists who kill American soldiers in Iraq for over two years, but the administration has taken only relatively moderate countermeasures. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. will be more forceful with politically-weak Abbas when he invites Hamas to join his administration. * Current signals are that the administration will be satisfied if Abbas continues to mouth the right lines and make weak-to-moderate efforts at curbing terror. The determining factor in this area will be the size and frequency of attacks. Paradoxically, the more successful that Israel is in rooting out and foiling Palestinian terrorism, the less the Americans will pressure the PA to disband Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other factions. * This deviation from the first section in the roadmap will be perceived as necessary for the map's realization, and will be made possible by loosely interpreting the term "dismantle" to mean the cessation of activity. If terrorism escalates, the U.S will pressure the PA to rein it in, but not to completely dissolve the organizations. It is doubtful whether the administration will demand of Abbas in 2006-7 what it did not demand of Arafat in 2002-3.

2005-11-24 00:00:00

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