Dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Whatever Israel may claim, there's nothing in the famous (or infamous, depending on one's point of view) Road Map that requires the Palestinian Authority to do any such thing.

Here are the relevant passages:

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PHASE I: ENDING TERROR AND VIOLENCE, NORMALIZING PALESTINIAN LIFE, AND BUILDING PALESTINIAN INSTITUTIONS...

In Phase I. the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below....

At the outset of Phase I: Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel....

Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere. Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.

~~~

Paragraph 2 specifically calls for a "cease-fire." It's interesting to note that in agreeing to that, the militant groups made demands, but stressed that they weren't preconditions--thus fulfilling the requirement that the cease-fire be "unconditional."

Now let's look closely at the wording of Paragraph 3.

First: "Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism." It's clear that this is a reference to the Palestinian leadership mentioned in Paragraph 2, if only because the sentence goes on to require these same "Palestinians" to "undertake visible efforts on the ground" and so forth. But no leadership can promise that none of its people--in this case, numbering in the millions--will ever again commit acts of terrorism. Therefore, despite use of the word "unequivocal," this requirement must mean only that the leadership has to promise there will be no violence and terrorism that it can prevent--nothing it tacitly sanctions. That's the meaning implied by Paragraph 2 ("All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel").

Let's consider more of Paragraph 3: "Palestinians...undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." By accepting this, the Palestinian Authority committed itself to arrest (and so forth) people and groups conducting and planning attacks in violation of the cease-fire. Nothing is said about harassing people suspected of having carried out attacks in the past, or even those known to have done so.

More: "Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure." To me, this means the Palestinian Authority must dismantle the "capabilities and infrastructure" of those who've been "confronted" because they were "engaged in terror"--i.e., "conducting and planning violent attacks." There's no mention by name of organizations to be targeted. And the preceding sentence only empowers the Palestinian Authority to "disrupt" groups that are conducting and planning such attacks. You can't dismantle an organization's infrastructure without disrupting it!

Finally, the Palestinian Authority's responsibility "includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons." The manner of doing that isn't spelled out, nor is the definition of "illegal weapons" in this context. (How can the possession of weapons--or anything else--be illegal when there's no one to say what is or isn't legal but an illegal occupying power and local authorities forced to collaborate with it? Don't sneer at this objection: except for the U.S. and Israel, virtually the entire world agrees that Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem is illegal. Israel is in direct violation of numerous U.N. resolutions.) But even if there's agreement on what weapons are illegal, the Palestinian Authority must only "commence" confiscating them. It can do that by offering a bounty for weapons turned in voluntarily, as the U.S. has done in Iraq.

The Road Map requires that all controllable "terrorism" have been ended for later steps to take place. But militant groups wouldn't have agreed to the cease-fire unless they either hoped for that outcome, or believed Israel will show bad faith at every turn and much of the world will support them when they declare it in breach of the agreement and take up arms again.

Sadly, I think the latter outcome is the more likely.



Please continue to Chapter 2...