In light of the PA's refusal - for at least the next four weeks, according to a PA source - to accept responsibility for security in any specific area, the U.S. is once again raising the possibility of joint Israeli-P.A. patrols.
It will be recalled that the 2nd victim of the Oslo War was a Border Guard policeman who was killed by a Palestinian para-military policeman with whom he was serving on a joint patrol in Kalkilye. The killer, screaming "Allahu Akbar!," shot into the jeep - killing Inspector Yossi Tabaja, 27, and wounding another Israeli. The joint patrols - an Oslo Accord mechanism under which Israeli and PA jeeps patrol together - were suspended on the spot.
Attending the World Economic Forum in Jordan last night, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the idea of renewing the joint patrols in certain problematic areas. Powell gave the Road Map plan a vague two-week deadline, saying that if the PA continues to refuse to fight Hamas by that time, changes will have to be introduced into the plan.
Meanwhile, Hamas and the PA continue to negotiate a cease-fire, which Israel, the U.S. and even Britain have said is not sufficient. Israel has long demanded an all-out war or disarming of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and not just a cease-fire. For instance, Gen. Amos Gilad, the IDF Coordinator of Yesha Activities, said this morning that Israel must not agree to a hudna (temporary cease-fire) between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, "because it will merely give Hamas time to reorganize for even worse terrorist attacks in the future." Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit also weighed in today against a hudna plan. Prime Minister Sharon said yesterday that he would agree to a hudna, but only for a "quick and short" time.
Later today, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz said it very clearly in an address to students in Beit Zarzir: "Israel is not interested in the talks between Hamas and the PA; the only thing that matters is that there be a war against terrorism and a dismantling of the terror infrastructures."
As if to accentuate Israel's fears, one of the last remaining points of contention between Hamas and the P.A. is the duration of the cease-fire, with Hamas demanding that it be open-ended so that it can be stopped at any time.
The Yesha Council calls upon the government not to renew the joint patrols: "The renewal of the patrols, despite the clear failure of the Oslo Accords, and after dozens of murders carried out by PA policemen, would be a dangerous gamble with the lives of our soldiers that will not be forgiven or atoned for."