Terrorist attack in Tel Aviv

The terrible attack by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv last night represents an
attempt by Palestinian terrorists to stop peaceful progress between the PA
and Israel. Since the hopes for peace have been raised by the actions of
Pres. Abbas within the PA, and given his public commitment to solve the
conflict without violence, this is the reaction of the resistance. Who are
they? Some elements of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, who don’t accept the
ceasefire and are probably supported by Hizbollah both in their tactics and

Unfortunately five Israelis are dead and 65 wounded in this public message
to Abbas. There is a sense of shock in Israel because many of us had been
lulled into a sense of false security. The terrorist deliberately targeted
vulnerable civilians queuing outside a bar. The question is what will Abbas
do about it. If he merely has more meetings with the terrorist
organizations, that won’t do anything. They must be confronted and
disarmed. It will not be difficult for Abbas to find out who did this and
who is behind it. In a statement Abbas not only condemned the attack but
pointed to a third party that was behind it, namely Hizbollah. Now that he
has a new cabinet in place it should not be too difficult for him to act,
although it may take some time to organize a suitable reaction.
Israel can take many actions short of military ones.

The transfer of the five towns agreed to be transferred to the PA security will be delayed. The release of more prisoners will be delayed. Israel knows the identity of the bomber and that he came from a village near Tulkarm. Today several men were arrested there including two of his brothers. It is quite likely that
Israel will receive valuable information from them to lead them to the
perpetrators of this act. They already think they know that Sheikh Obeid a
leader of Hizbollah in Beirut who was previously released by Israel from
custody was behind it. The PA has also arrested several of the usual
suspects. It is possible that a targeted assassination of a terrorist leader
could be carried out by the IDF, although this would be considered a breach
of the ceasefire agreement. However, that agreement has been broken by this
attack, since Abbas is responsible for any and all attacks from the PA.
Israel could also launch an attack on Hizbollah in Lebanon, although they
might not want to open up that can of worms, but it would be a good way of
sending a message to Syria to curtail Hizbollah.

If the situation develops as it was before with Arafat, namely that he won’t
restrain the terrorists from carrying out attacks, then there is no point in
Israel continuing to talk with Abbas and no progress can be made. Abbas and
all the parties know this. The statement issued by Secty. of State Rice was
particularly good from that point of view. She said essentially that the
time for talking to the terrorists is over and firm action must be taken to
curb them. Let’s hope Abbas gets this message and will implement it.
If he is firm in dealing with the perpetrators of this incident, or
cooperates with Israel in tackling the situation, then a wave of further
incidents may be prevented and a civil war within the PA may be avoided. If
he is not then anything can happen.


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