"Wow!" is the only response possible to a headline from news.walla.co.il. "Fatah Threatens: We Will End the Cease Fire with Israel."
I had not noticed that there was a cease fire.
It did not seem like a cease fire when a gang of Palestinians, members of one of the several security forces supposedly directed by Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas, killed two Israeli hikers three weeks ago. Nor is it a cease fire that brings the IDF into cities of the West Bank, presumably controlled by Fatah, to deal with people wanted for violence against Israeli civilians.
Further down in the same article was the news that Abbas was threatening to resign as President of the Palestine National Authority, and end the peace process if Israel did not stop attacking fellow Palestinians in Gaza.
Does this mean that Israel should accept more than 50 missiles per day fired at its civilians, and not take any action?
Yesterday there was a report that Abbas complained to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and said that President Bush's dream of peace in the Middle East was in danger because of Israeli attacks. The report, from Palestinian sources, said that the Secretary of State would pressure the Israelis to stop the attacks.
Was the United States Government signing onto the Palestinian narrative, that they have a right to resist Israel, while Israel has no other rights other than to comply with Palestinian demands?
Not quite. Or at least it does not seem that way, unless there is a rebellion under way in the American State Department.
The State Department spokesperson indicated that Israel has a right to defend its citizens, and noted the number of rockets fired against Israelis in the previous 24 hours.
All this is yet another sign of a profound cultural differences between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Palestinians claim a monopoly of rights. The conflict is our fault for being here. They have a right to resist the conquest with violence. Why does Hamas have a right to attack Israel after the withdrawal from Gaza? Because Israelis are still occupying Israel, and have not gone into the sea.
The same day that one group of Palestinians was threatening to end a cease fire that does not exist, another group was threatening that Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured 18 months ago, would end up like Ron Arad, an Israeli airman captured in Lebanon 21 years ago. Arad has apparently died, but without leaving a body or notice of same.
Someone ought to remind the Palestinians that they are in danger of becoming a collective Ron Arad. They can disappear into history without achieving any national aspirations.
While Palestinians speak in hyperbole, Israel keeps trying to communicate with reason. The IDF counters violence directed at civilians with measured and moderate responses. It would be no problem to bombard Palestinian settlements in Gaza in response to every rocket attack against an Israeli town. Israeli weapons are more powerful and better aimed than what comes out of Palestinian metal shops. Whereas they have killed something like 10 civilians with their rockets in seven years, but make life miserable for 20,000 people with frequent warning sirens and missiles that make a lot of noise, Israeli artillery might kill thousands per hour.
The IDF does not do that. It targets individuals associated with attacks on Israel. There is collateral damage, insofar as the bad guys spend a lot of time mingled with family members, neighbors, and children of the streets who congregate to watch the action. Israeli soldiers have abandoned attacks when civilians were in the way or close by, but it does not always end neatly.
Will this continue?
Will it end the peace process?
Not much sign of a peace process, except in the speeches of George W. Bush and the efforts of Ehud Olmert.
Palestinian threats of ending a cease fire do not generate much emotion, or four letter words. "Wow" is the most that seems appropriate.