Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Targeting Rantisi
Israel today tried to assassinate a senior Hamas official, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, but succeeded only in injuring him. Whatever else one might say about the assassination attempt (or about the Hamas attacks against Israeli troops on Sunday), it is another harsh blow against the luckless "road map." It will probably lead to the interruption of all contact between Hamas and the Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas, when Hamas had been showing signs of reconsidering its refusal to discuss a ceasefire.

Maybe what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won't admit is that a majority of Israelis are far more willing to give up occupied land in exchange for peace with the Palestinians than he is. In yesterday's issue of Ha'aretz, there was a report on an opinion poll conducted by Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. It showed that 59 percent of Israelis accepted the removal of all settlements located outside major settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, compared to 50 percent last year. Remarkably, 56 percent (compared to 48 percent last year) supported “a unilateral withdrawal from the territories in the context of a peace accord, even if that meant ceding all settlements.”

Sharon and his ministers consider this tantamount to surrender. The effort to kill Rantisi, and Hamas' certain retaliation, will surely ensure that a land-for-peace compromise is further delayed. Now we'll see how committed Bush really is.

No comments: