Over the weekend, the Palestinian Security Forces made a major arrest. Three Palestinians were taken into custody after being tracked down before they were able to carry out what could have been a major terrorist attack. Avi Isaacharoff of the Times of Israel discussed how odd it was that such a major event was almost entirely ignored by the Israeli press. He doesn’t come out and say it, but the entire tone of his piece is to essentially reassure the reader that despite the incitement, the terror payments and the heaps of praise the Palestinian Authority lavishes on the “martyrs,” that the fact that the security coordination continues is a sign that the PA is actually a partner if only Israelis would look and listen close enough.
This is of course utter garbage, but he does raise a good point. How does one square the circle of a leader who calls for, glorifies and pays for terror one minute, while preventing terror the next?
Isaacharoff does mention that Abbas needs the security coordination more than Israel does. If he were to end the coordination, Israel might stop warning him when Hamas is planning coups against him. But this doesn’t hold water since it is likely that Israel would work to prevent such an outcome in any case as a Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria is something the Israeli security establishment seeks to prevent at all costs. It also isn’t enough to say he prevented this attack because it was coordinated, allegedly, by Hamas and not Fatah. Abbas has praised attackers affiliated with Hamas and pays them salaries.
The reason why Abbas allowed his security forces to track down and arrest this terror trio is because he is not yet ready to launch a full-scale intifada. Abbas has a strategy and, at the moment, major terror attacks are not part of it. Right now, the steady stream of daily, seemingly random attacks that leave more Palestinians dead than Jews is exactly what he needs in order to keep Palestinians in the news and maintain their status as victims in need of saving by the international community. He sees the fruits of his lawfare campaign against Israel at the UN, in the EU and even now in the US presidential campaign. He also knows that the one time the world wakes up and starts to sympathize with Israel even a little bit, is when Jew play their traditional historical role and die in large numbers.
This is not to say that Abbas believes that terrorism is wrong. He merely views it as one of the many tools in his arsenal. He knows that the world is willing to overlook and explain away his terror payments and incitement but they will not be as willing to look the other way if he is allowing Jews to be blown up or shot to death on a regular basis. One Jew getting stabbed to death every other week isn’t such a big deal. But a massacre of over a dozen by terrorists arms with a sub-machine gun and hand grenades? That would be too much.
So for now Abbas is more than happy to arrest Hamas terrorists planning major attacks while naming streets after Hamas, Fatah and unaffiliated terrorists who successfully carry out minor attacks. One of the things that was so baffling about the way Operation Protective Edge began was why exactly Hamas decided to kidnap and murder Eyal, Naftali and Gil-ad before they were ready for a full-scale war? Why didn’t they wait until more of their tunnels were dug and more advanced rockets were manufactured or smuggled in? Later on it became clear that the kidnapping was not approved by the Hamas leadership in Gaza but by a rival faction from Hebron, guided by Saleh al-Arouri in Turkey. Had Hamas knowns about the plans, they likely would have taken steps to prevent it, much as Abbas did last weekend; not because they disagreed with it or thought it was morally wrong, but because it was not the right time.
So for now, Abbas is willing to go through the motions and help Israel foil major attacks. But when Abbas finally realizes that the world community can’t and won’t force Israel to accept his demands of self-destruction, all bets are off.
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