The latest cycle of murder and countermurder in Israel and Palestine is a horrifying and saddening reminder of so many similar times in the past when some positive development in relations between the two peoples is followed by the response of the radical extremists on both sides which destroys any chance for peace. This is what is happening now: Hamas desperately wants to block any serious effort for peace so it bombs and kills. Sharon, who genuinely appeared interested in reaching some kind of compromise with Abu Mazen last week has reverted to his former butcher mentality in approving an assassination attempt on the Hamas leader, Rantizi. Now we have more Hamas violence today in the form of the Jerusalem bus attack.
What is doubly troubling is that if we go back a short few days to Aqaba we remember that the leader of Israel’s government and the leader of Palestine’s government were negotiating and making an honest effort to bridge their differences. Now, what we have is the Israeli state ignoring Abu Mazen and the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people. It’s as if the only representative of the Palestinians that matters to Israel is Hamas with whom the Israelis are embraced in a dance of death.
The only way to destroy Hamas is to get Abu Mazen to do it. If Ben Gurion could rein in the upstart Irgun (led by Menachem Begin) by confiscating the Alta Lena and its boatload of weapons (this represented the Irgun’s attempt to arm itself and become a competing political-military force to the Palmach), then Abu Mazen can do the same to Hamas and the other extremists on their side. But Abu Mazen can do nothing against Hamas until Israel gives up on the idea of doing the job itself.