The End of "Bethlehem First"

(Ha'aretz) Ze'ev Schiff - The "Bethlehem First" was initiated as a supposed incentive to the Palestinian Authority - but mostly to the local strongmen - to take over security in return for an IDF withdrawal. In Hebron, a number of areas were evacuated by the IDF, but the Palestinian Preventive Security demanded that Israel pull out from other areas as well. When the Palestinians did not get what they wanted, they absolved themselves of responsibility for security and allowed the creation of a power vacuum into which the Islamic Jihad and Hamas cells poured. The Jerusalem bus bombing suggests that the Cairo summit between Hamas and Fatah 10 days ago failed to achieve a temporary cease fire, as the Egyptian and European sponsors suggested, as Hamas attacks seem to intensify. Hamas and Islamic Jihad do experience some pressure by segments of the Palestinian population, however in principle it appears that the accelerating confrontation fits the basic worldview of these organizations - and also that of Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.

2002-11-22 00:00:00

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