Abbas ups efforts
by: Sonja Pace - Last updated: 2005-01-18
According to several ministers, the cabinet has told Palestinian security forces to do more to prevent attacks against Israelis. Ministers also said security forces in the Gaza Strip have been directed to investigate an attack by militants against the Karni crossing.
Palestinian gunmen killed six Israelis in a well-coordinated attack late Thursday at the Karni crossing - the major cargo crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Israel. At least 16 Palestinians, including militants and civilians, have been killed during Israeli military raids since then.
In his inauguration speech on Saturday, newly-elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas again called for an end to violence and a resumption of peace talks with Israel.
But, Israeli officials want actions not words, as government advisor, Dori Gold told VOA.
"Unfortunately, the statements made by Mahmoud Abbas in his inauguration clearly had no impact on the Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza, for rather than witnessing a reduction in violence, we are seeing an escalation," he said.
Following the Karni attack, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cut off all contacts with the Palestinian Authority, dashing hopes that he might soon meet with Mr Abbas.
On Sunday, Mr Sharon said the military has free rein to act to stop militant attacks, but there have been no further operations as Israel appears to be weighing its options. Some officials are saying that while smaller, targeted operations will continue, a major offensive may not be imminent in order to give Mr. Abbas some time to deal with the militants.
Israeli terrorism expert, Ely Karmon of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, says Mr Abbas should be given time, but not without limits.
"If there is a lower level of terrorism like it was before the elections, this could be perhaps acceptable for several weeks - two to three months. But, in this case of the Karni attack, which is a strategic attack, I think that he (Abbas) must understand that he should do things immediately and quickly."
Mr Abbas is clearly under pressure to do something. It remains to be seen what measures the Palestinian security forces will take, or if those measures will satisfy Israel's demand to bring an end to attacks before contacts between the two sides can resume.
Mr Abbas is to meet with militant leaders in Gaza this week as part of his effort to turn them away from violence and bring them into the political fold.
Story supplied by: VOAnews