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Sharon Zigs, Sharon Zags

By Michael Freund
1/20/2005, 12:00 AM

Last week, after a Palestinian suicide bombing attack on January 13, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to “freeze” all contact with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Yesterday, after a wave of Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli towns and cities, Sharon decided to… resume contact with the leadership of the PA.

Is this making sense to anyone?

Let’s leave aside, for the moment, whatever you might think about the PA itself, and focus instead on the tactics being adopted by Israel.

Presumably, the “freeze” imposed on ties with the Palestinians was intended to send a message to newly-elected Palestinian chairman Abu Mazen that Israel’s patience was wearing thin with intensifying terror attacks against the Jewish state.

The Palestinians responded to Sharon’s “freeze” with more “heat”, launching still more attacks against Israel. To react to this upsurge in violence by resuming contact, rather than fighting back, is nothing short of astonishing.

Essentially, Sharon has zig-zagged from tough talk to tender chatter, in the process making Israel look flippant and even foolish in the eyes of the Palestinians.

Why should the PA leadership ever again take Sharon’s threats seriously if he so quickly retreats from them within a matter of mere days?

Ice And why should they fear retaliation or punitive action if they know that Israel’s resolve melts as quickly as ice?

Whatever the coming days will bring, as the PA deploys its security forces throughout northern Gaza, one thing is for sure: Israel’s defensive posture has once again taken a painful, and completely self-inflicted, blow, courtesy of Ariel Sharon.