Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday condemned the stabbing of an IDF soldier at the Tapuah checkpoint by a Palestinian police officer.
It is hard not to appreciate the political courage summoned by Fayyad Wednesday in condemning the killing of an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in the occupied territories.
But Fayyad apparently realizes that to maintain his extraordinary cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank, he needs to compromise on his dignity, even if at a hefty political price.
However, one emerging trend is difficult to ignore. Most of the fatal attacks in the West Bank in recent years were carried out by members of Palestinian security forces.
Two months ago there was the murder of Rabbi Meir Chai, near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, by three Fatah men, one of them a member of the West Bank counterintelligence service.
In November 2007, three Palestinian policemen murdered settler Ido Zoldan, also from Shavei Shomron. A month later, two members of the Palestinian general intelligence service murdered two Israeli soldiers from Kiryat Arba, who were hiking near the village of Tarkumia.
These attacks create quite a dilemma for Israeli security organizations. On the one hand, the Palestinian Authority is combating Hamas and Islamic Jihad, often demonstrating a surprising ability to counter the Islamist terrorist threats. But the same PA neglects its own men, including former members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and security service men.
Moreover, there is increasing anti-Israel incitement by the PA, which comes not only from third-rate politicians, but also from very senior officials. Only a few weeks ago, a senior PA official took part in the dedication of a square to Dalal al-Moughrabi, who took part in the Coastal Road Massacre in 1978 and murdered children with her own hands, and in January a sermon calling for the murder of Jews was broadcast by Palestinian television.
Fayyad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while far from encouraging terrorism, do support the "popular resistance" of the Bi'lin and Na'ilin model, in effect, endorsing stone-throwing. Fayyad himself "only" took part in burning settlement produce, while he and his government engage in setting up preposterous investigative committees to look into allegations of organ thefts by Israeli soldiers. The message trickles down to the lower ranks and can often be misunderstood. In view of the stalemate in negotiations, it's not hard to guess why settlers and soldiers are perceived as legitimate targets.
This doesn't make the dilemma any less acute for the Israelis in view of the "miracle" performed by Abbas and Fayyad in the West Bank. Thousands of words have been written about its Palestinian cities, the burgeoning economy and the war on radical Islam. The Palestinian stock exchange went up by 12 percent in 2009 and an even steeper climb is expected in the coming year. Construction of a new Palestinian city began north of Bir Zeit two years ago, and the PA is planning another one north of Jericho, to be named Kamar, Arabic for moon.
Fayyad, a Washington favorite, is showing results time and again of just how much he is a man of action, unlike his other Palestinian colleagues. He doesn't focus on personal interest, he's clean of any taint of corruption and the rare vision of a Palestinian state he bears is being implemented on the ground. It's precisely that one Palestinian policeman who decides to carry out an attack that might frustrate his plans.
Fayyad's troubles were compounded last night with a Channel 10 expose showing Abbas' chief of staff, Rafiq Al Husseini, trying to coax a woman into sleeping with him. The incidentwas revealed by Fahmi Shabana, former director of the general intelligence service in Hebron. Ironically, this man, who a year ago was arrested by the Israel Police for recruiting agents, was also the man who arrested the two terrorists from the Tarkumia attack. Wednesday, he became Abbas and Fayyad's latest and biggest headache.
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