Monday, January 03, 2005

Abu Mazen - firing rockets is "useless"

According to The New York Times Abu Mazen has asked Palestinian "Militants" in Gaza to stop firing rockets as the attacks are "useless". "This is not the time for this kind of act," he said. "Do not give Israel more reason to attack us."

The implication is very clear; the next head of the PA sees the firing of rockets at civilian targets within Israel, randomly killing innocent men, women and children to be a legitimate tactic which is simply not useful at this particular time. When it becomes tactically useful again, the people of Sderot can expect another salvo.

Israel and the international community have seen Abu Mazen to be a pragmatist; he has spoken out in the past against the use of weapons against Israel, seemingly realising that the way in which the Palestinian people will be able to "...enjoy security and safety and a decent life and can live in their country with total freedom," is to sit around the negotiating people and talk like reasonable people because Israel is ready for peace. The messages which he has been projecting in the last couple of days seem to reflect a sea change in his attitudes.

The last time that Israel went to the polls, opposition leader Amram Mitzna ran on a program of disengagement which was scoffed at by Arik Sharon and the Likkud; a program which looks remarkably similar to that which Sharon is now working with. Could it be that just as Sharon said one thing and then took another, far more pragmatic line, that Abu Mazen will do the same? Rather than telling the "militants" to immediately lay down their arms, to gradually help them to understand that their cause is better served by peaceful means and that painful compromise will be necessary.

I have been made cynical by the past 4 1/2 years of conflict but am still trying to look for a positive spin - along with many, many Israelis, I desperately want to believe that this is an opportunity to advance on the peace front and am therefore not passing judgement on Abu Mazen's words but will wait to see what action he takes after the elections. The ground is fertile for planting the seeds of peace, the wrong move will plough it over with poison for a generation or more.


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