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A Bend in the Roadmap

July 15, 2003 - Last month the major Palestinian terrorist organizations declared a limited cease-fire. This was their response to the Roadmap, which they presented as a major contribution to peace.

But let us take a close look at this cease-fire (or hudna):

This cease-fire did not result from any negotiations with Israel but was declared unilaterally by the Palestinians, with conditions presented to Israel as an ultimatum.

This cease-fire has a stated time limit of three months, set to expire whether or not Israel complies with these conditions.

The main condition on which the terrorists now insist is the release of all Palestinian prisoners. Israel now has thousands of them, many of whom are guilty of actual participation in acts of violence.

Astonishingly, the Palestinian terrorists maintain that Israel's failure to comply with this demand constitutes bad faith on Israel's part and a repudiation of the peace process. In other words, if Israel does not supply the terrorists with thousands of fighters ready to be used against it as soon as the truce ends, then the terrorists claim the right to abort the cease-fire and resume their attacks immediately.

This is not a cease-fire. It is blackmail. Release our comrades now, the Palestinians demand, or we won't even wait three months to start killing your people again.

If the Palestinians were sincere, they would not impose a specific time limit on the cease-fire but would keep it going as long as progress towards peace continues. What do the Palestinians gain by a cease-fire planned to expire in a matter of weeks? They gain a halt in Israeli retaliation, time to regroup, and an undeserved public relations coup. What do the Israelis gain? Nothing, except at best a three-month reprieve for those who are doomed to die anyway.

Israel's campaign against Hamas has been effective. The elimination of several Hamas leaders has hurt the organization. By proposing this abortive cease-fire the terrorists have put Israel's campaign on hold, even gaining sympathy in the process.

But the terrorists' demands have no basis. The Roadmap requires an "unconditional cessation of violence" (emphasis added). It does not specify a release of prisoners. By placing conditions on their cease-fire that jeopardize Israel's security, the Palestinians are actually in violation of the Roadmap. In the meantime Israel has taken steps to comply with the Roadmap, having already withdrawn from parts of Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel is taking a chance, gradually leaving more of the responsibility for its security to the Palestinian Authority. In the meantime the Palestinian terrorists are already telegraphing their intention not to comply with the Roadmap. And terrorist attacks have occurred even during this period of "cease-fire." On Monday, July 7, a bomb blast killed a 65-year-old Israeli woman in her home. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. There have been other attacks.

The hudna is just the latest tactical maneuver in the terrorist war.

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