International

Does Abbas mean it?

I hate to sounded jaded, but this headline reminds me of a long series of headlines from about 1994 to 2003, in which it was Yasser Arafat declaring various and sundry crackdowns on Palestinian “militants.”

Those declarations usually came in the wake of a particularly murderous attack on Israeli civilians and after the usual demands from the US and Europe for Arafat to “do more” to curb terrorism. The resulting “crackdowns” usually amounted to a roundup of the usual suspects, who were quietly released after the initial outrage cooled down.

I hope– for the sake of Palestinians as well as Israelis– that Mahmoud Abbas’s order to his security forces to stop terrorist attacks on Israelis amounts to something more. (It was only recently, after all, that he promised not to use force against terrorists.)

I realize a serious and sustained crackdown would be a huge political risk for Abbas, which could cost him his position or even his life. If he follows through, he will deserve great credit for his courage. And most important, he would help the embattled supporters of peace and justice in Israel put justified pressure on the Israeli government to negotiate fair terms for a Palestinian state.

As I’ve said before: if this or any Israeli government fails to deal seriously with a Palestinian leadership that is itself serious about making peace, I’ll travel to Israel for the express purpose of voting it out of office.

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