I hope Mahmoud Abbas is taking notes.
The gut-wrenching images of Jewish settlers being evacuated from their homes in Gaza is a striking display of the lengths Israel will go to in confronting the most extreme elements within its society. Ariel Sharon has torn his country apart, seen members of his government resign, risked political defeat and weathered assassination plots all as part of the disengagement plan.
Once the Israelis pullout completely, it will be Abbas’s show. Hamas terrorists have claimed the Israeli withdrawal as a victory of their resistance and will be asserting themselves. Abbas must follow the example that Sharon has set and forcibly disarm the terrorist groups. Confronting the terrorists is not only essential for becoming a reliable peace partner, but it is essential should the Palestinians ever achieve statehood. There is simply no way any Palestinian state could be viable if a government is competing for control with armed terrorist groups.
When Israel was founded in 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, forcibly disbanded several paramilitary organizations and he even sunk a ship filled with weapons that were purchased by one of these groups. The controversial move claimed 82 lives.
Terrorists may see the Israeli withdrawal as a victory, but they are deluding themselves. Should they step up their war against Israel while Abbas sits on the sidelines, Sharon will not hesitate for one minute to send tanks into Gaza.
To borrow a line from the Godfather, Part II, Sharon will essentially tell Abbas, “If you don’t take care of this, I have to.”