Monday, June 30, 2003

Well, it would appear that the ceasefire is up and running. I'm still divided as to whether this is a tactic designed to curry international favor in the belief that the Israelis will attack first, a genuine attempt to end what many consider a "cycle of violence", proof of Abbas' ability to bring people onside, or recognition that some sort of gesture is needed to mollify the Americans.

Whatever it is, I hope it'll stick. Not that I'm happy about the prospect of the Bush administration taking credit for a ceasefire they've been little but an obstacle too, but a cessation of violence is worth any amount of neocon crowing.

Edit: and here's the problem:

Sharon said Monday that, despite its security agreement with the Palestinian Authority,
Israel would not turn a blind eye to the shooting attack in the northern West Bank, in which a Bulgarian laborer was shot and killed.

Krastiu Radkov, 46, was hit in the head and died a short time later after efforts to resuscitate him failed - just one day after the three main Palestinian groups - Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad - announced the cessation of attacks on Israelis.

A local leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is affiliated with President Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said his armed group was behind the attack near the city of Jenin and that it would not abide by the ceasefire announced on Sunday.

"We are not committed to so called truce and we will fight the settlers and the Israeli military inside the occupied territories," he said, referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
If there's a dealbreaker, of course, this is it: independent groups that won't recognize the orders from "higher-ups" to cease the attacks, and whom the leaders of the various extremist groups have little real ability to hold back. I doubt anybody would be surprised by this.

The problem, however, is that it could lead to a reconfirmation of already-held beliefs. If the Israelis more than minimally respond, those who lean towards the Palestinians will say "the Israelis broke the ceasefire" and those who lean towards the Israelis will say "the ceasefire was a sham". The pro-Palestinians will say that the Israeli government didn't want the ceasefire: that it deliberately ignored the fact that it has far more control over itstroops than the extremist leaders have over their "soldiers". The'll argue that whole group is being blamed for the actions of a small extremist subset. The pro-Israelis will say that this is proof that the Palestinians either cannot prevent the attacks or was never serious about stopping them, and therefore the Palestinians were never serious about the ceasefire. Both will continue to call the other the "instigator of violence", and both will hold up the same event as "proof" of their position.

(Whether either is true or not is, of course, entirely irrelevant.)

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