Tears in the shape of knives
So far, the Palestinian leadership has spoken with one voice in praise of the plan that promises a Palestinian state in less than three years. Now, however, in addition to opposition led by Hamas, which is vehemently opposed to the plan, there are many in Fatah who are not enthusiastic about it.
It is difficult to describe a more gloomy reception for Mahmoud Abbas' government and the road map than what took place as it was confirmed and in the days that followed. With the approval of the Palestinian government, the Israel Defense Forces operations and assassinations continued and there was the terror attack on the Tel Aviv seaside promenade, followed by the IDF operation in Sijia in Gaza. Three Israelis were killed in the terror attack and 20 Palestinians were killed in the army operations.
The Israeli media is usually restrained when it comes to pictures of terror victims. The Arab and Palestinian media run more horrific photographs. Last Thursday, Al-Hayyat al-Jedida, the Palestinian newspaper whose workers are, in effect, officials of the Palestinian Authority, published a front-page picture of the smashed skull of the Palestinian baby shot to death in Sijia. And much space was given to the death of Rami Hadar Sa'ad, a 27-year-old engineer and one of the commanders of the military wing of Hamas, who was also killed in that operation.
Sa'ad's wife is the young, well-known cartoonist known as Ummiya Joha; her cartoons are published far beyond the Palestinian territories. She is from a refugee family from the village of al-Muharka, which was near Be'er Sheva. She studied mathematics and worked as a teacher for a while. At the start of the intifada, she began drawing her political cartoons for the Palestinian press and there's nobody in the territories who doesn't know her work. Lately, she has been adding a small key to her signature on the drawings, a symbol of the Palestinian "vision of return." Her cartoon did not appear the day after her husband was killed. Instead, in the usual place on the last page, was a picture of her shaheed husband Rami, lying on a bier, weapon in hand. Underneath it was the caption: "Our comrade Ummiya Joha's cartoon does not appear today - this is her husband, the Shaheed Rami, who has written in blood what no other means could express."
One of her most recent cartoons showed a tearing Palestinian eye, and the tears were in the shape of knives. Palestinian mourning is now dominated by feelings of revenge, and it was the subject on everyone's lips at the huge funeral for the 13 dead of Sijia. Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the Hamas leaders, said: "We will not put down our arms and will not surrender. We prefer death to the prisons of the occupiers." It is possible he was aiming his words at the idea of the hudna, the ceasefire of Islamic tradition, which has come up over and over again in the dialogue Prime Minister Abbas has been conducting over the past year with the Hamas leadership.
The Palestinian public and the leadership are completely certain the latest Israeli operation was not meant to prevent terror attacks, but to foil the road map. Palestinian spokesmen are well aware of the latest reports about the sweeping support for Israel among senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill. Israel, they believe, is sure it can correct and change the road map.
So far, the Palestinian leadership has spoken with one voice in praise of the plan that promises a Palestinian state in less than three years. Now, however, in addition to opposition led by Hamas, which is vehemently opposed to the plan, there are many in Fatah who are not enthusiastic about it. The road map requires the Palestinians to put an end to the violence. Against the background of the intensifying conflict, it is difficult to find a single Palestinian who thinks it is possible or necessary to disarm the armed factions that conduct the terror attacks. Abu Mazen may have succeeded in forming a government, but his political plans to end the military intifada and turn it into a nonviolent struggle now appear to be hopeless.