The IDF is preparing for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to either fail or move forward, according to the army magazine B'Machaneh. If talks fail, PA Arab violence may become more intense; if they succeed, the IDF may be told to stop arresting terrorists in PA-controlled cities and be unable to prevent weapons smuggling.
Currently, while the PA has control over major cities such as Ramallah and Shechem, IDF forces occasionally enter the area at night to arrest wanted terrorists and search for evidence of rocket production or smuggling. The arrest and search operations have angered PA leaders, who say their own troops should be trusted to handle the struggle against PA-based terrorism. The IDF has found several attempts to produce simple rockets of the kind used in Gaza.
Shortly before Israel-PA negotiations officially resumed, B'Machaneh reports, soldiers from the elite Duchifat unit conducted a patrol in the Tulkarm region, east of Netanya. The goal of the mission was to learn the layout of the area thoroughly in case IDF operations are affected by the peace talks.
"We're preparing by gathering knowledge for the future, because we don't know what will happen tomorrow,” one commander explained. “I don't know if they'll let me go into the city or not once peace talks begin, let alone afterwards.”
Prior to negotiations, Israel made several “goodwill gestures” to the PA, which included removing dozens of checkpoints in Judea and Samaria. (For the possibly dangerous effect on non Arabs, click here.) Previous Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also released hundreds of captured terrorists, and removed many more from Israel's “wanted” list.