By Shimon Z. Klein

There are signs that cracks are appearing in the sanctions against the Palestinian national unity government. Norway (who is not a member of the EU) acts independently. It has decided to recognize the Palestinian Authority and offer aid to it. Israel, however, has decided to tighten sanctions against the PA. They hope that the international community will continue the boycott against the PA.


This tactic may be self-defeating in the end. It could open up a corridor between Iran and the Palestinian leadership. Iran would send much needed money to the PA. which will not be used for rebuilding Palestinian infrastructure but for the purpose of extending their influence and financing terror attacks against Israel.


How can Israel and the US choose with whom to negotiate in the PA? The national unity government should be viewed as a whole. If the Palestinian Authority is strangled financially, it will create a dangerous situation resulting in increased terror attempts against Israel. Surely this is not desirable!


The check points will remain further sources of friction between the Palestinians and the Israeli Army. The army excesses and humiliation of the Palestinians will increase and so will the hate. What does Israel hope to achieve? Humiliation of innocent Palestinians, about their daily lives, by the Israeli Security Forces must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. There are even incidents of Israeli soldiers pointing rifles at them. This is unacceptable!


The Israeli Army would not be weakened if they treated these innocent Palestinians humanely. I think of the sick and the pregnant women, who sometimes spend hours at check points undergoing humiliating body searches. Politeness, a kind word and a helping hand by those in authority, would surely alleviate the suffering of these people! Nobody denies that Israel has a right to protect her citizens from terror. This can be done without humiliating innocent Palestinians.


 Surely it would be better to negotiate an end to the occupation and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist despite the hard line stand of Hamas! The avenues for negotiations should remain open. The new government should be judged by its deeds and not by its rhetoric. After all the money that Israel is withholding from the Palestinians is Palestinian money. Squeezing the Palestinians financially will not bring the sides any closer to an agreement nor will it achieve anything.


It would be better for Israel to accept a long term “hudna” or cease-fire and this means total cessation of violence on both sides including the firing of Qassam rockets. The release of Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier and Palestinian prisoner release should be negotiated immediately. These can be viewed as trust building measures between the two sides which could be the beginning of negotiations for ending the occupation and the achievement of permanent peace between the two sides.


In reality, the new Palestinian government does recognize Israel. There are indications in their desire to negotiate despite the obtuseness on the Palestinian side. It is unlikely that the national unity government will be able to curtail the Qassam rocket attacks entirely. Splinter groups of hardliners reject the national unity government and view it as a sellout. They will continue their terror attacks in the hope that Israel will retaliate. They will try their utmost to overturn the national unity government. Hopefully, these hardliners will lose support amongst the Palestinians who have had enough of the violence and wish to continue rebuilding their lives.


President Mahmoud Abbas has been given full authority by the national unity government to negotiate with Israel. This means that whatever Olmert and Abbas agree upon must be binding on the PA despite their standpoint of not recognizing Israel which does seem illogical and unrealistic.






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