The stupidity alluded to here pertains both to US and Israeli policy. And it is with regard to the practice of continuing to arm and train Fatah forces in Judea and Samaria.
There is some very irrational notion that it is necessary to "strengthen" Fatah so it can prevent a Hamas takeover. However, the evidence from the recent past provides absolutely no reason to believe that giving Fatah more weapons and more training is going to turn them into a fighting machine that will keep Hamas at bay and that will help to keep Israel safe from terrorists. In fact, the opposite is glaringly obvious to anyone who wishes to pay attention.
Repeatedly over the years since the PA was established, there have been incidents in which weapons and training provided by the US with Israeli sanction were turned against Israel. The very first time this happened was in 1996 and the severity of such situations increased with the second intifada starting in 2000.
But that’s just one factor of concern. The other is the vast likelihood that these weapons will end up in Hamas hands. That’s precisely what happened in Gaza. Fatah was heavily armed by the US so that it might stand against Hamas. When Hamas routed Fatah, they acquired these weapons, which are now being utilized against Israel, and which will make that eventual major operation in Gaza more difficult than it otherwise would have been. Hamas is now in possession of such Fatah equipment as machine guns, thousands of assault rifles, personnel carriers and night vision goggles.
What must be understood here — what is of MAJOR concern — is the fact that Fatah was not defeated in Gaza because of Hamas superiority. Fatah had better training, better equipment, and a larger number of troops in the field. What they lacked was the will to fight Hamas.
Consider this information from my report on Fatah from in January:
After the rout, The Observer interviewed Abu Obieda, head of the military wing of Hamas, who said, "I expected it to take one month. That is what we planned for and trained for. But then at the beginning all of the Fatah commanders escaped their compounds in ambulances and left for Egypt. They left their men to die. Who could do that?"
Amir Tahiri, reporting in the NY Post , confirmed this, saying that even the four chief bases, claimed to be impregnable, fell within hours as the defenders fled, leaving their equipment behind.
While according to the Economist , Abbas did not declare a state of emergency until his own Gaza house (very large and elaborate, it should be noted) was being ransacked. Middle level officers complained about a lack of leadership: "We had no orders to fight except in self defense."
That was in Gaza. Now in Judea and Samaria, even US generals have begun to complain about the lack of effort on the part of the PA to take on terrorism. This is something I’ve been writing about for months: the reports that security officers say they aren’t given orders to shoot at terrorists, etc.
This pattern persists because Fatah (the PA) has no stomach for this fight. As they see it, Hamas and Fatah are all part of the Palestinian people, and there is at heart no disapproval of Hamas terrorism within the ranks of Fatah. The goals are the same, it is only the methods that vary, like a "good cop, bad cop" routine.
Months ago, the assessment of Israeli intelligence was that Hamas was as strong as Fatah in Judea and Samaria. Since then, Hamas has strengthened further and it is clearly understood that only the IDF stands between the PA and a Hamas takeover.
Yet, in spite of this, the US, which saw its policy fail so badly in Gaza, and which is in possession of information regarding Hamas strength in Judea and Samaria, and PA failure to fight terrorism… the US decides to adopt precisely the same policy that backfired in Gaza and to back the same losers all over again. The US is funding weapon supplies and training for the PA.
Where are the brains of Rice and company? Where is Bush in all of this? They are setting themselves up for a situation that is doomed to fail. They are making it possible for Hamas to secure better weapons than they would otherwise have had, and ultimately they — US officials! — are going to be responsible for Israeli deaths.
And those who head the Israeli government? They behave like US lackeys, instead of officials of a sovereign state. They give statements about how Israeli security must be their first concern, but they don’t act in accord with these statements.
Now it is in the news that Defense Minister Barak has expressed to the US concern that Hamas may take over Judea and Samaria, and that Israeli gestures to the US may backfire.
Well, good morning! But why didn’t he register this concern BEFORE making the gestures. Why didn’t he flatly refuse to make the gestures (which are blatantly said to be gestures to the US) because his first responsibility is to protect Israel?
Yet Israel has signed on to allowing the PA to have armored personnel carriers, night vision goggles and a whole lot more.
All in the interests of peace , you understand.
Rice is due here tomorrow night. She is coming to push that moribund "peace process." And we must ask, here too, why she thinks Fatah is a viable peace partner for Israel, given the parameters outlined above.
What is particularly infuriating is that she is being "even handed," criticizing both Israel and the PA for "failures" to live up to their commitments. But what she criticizes Israel for are such things as not taking down "illegal outposts," while with the PA the criticism is not fighting terrorism.
These are not parallel issues. The bottom line is that without an elimination of terrorist infrastructure there will be no peace here. Everything else must be on hold until that is accomplished.
As to the issues of communities established beyond the Green Line being an "obstacle to peace," I will discuss this further in the next posting.