12 June 2003

From the ABC:
Hamas vowed revenge for Israel's helicopter gunship attack of just over 24 hours ago and it has delivered in swift and brutal terms. The militant Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for a bombing on a crowded Jerusalem bus during peak hour, which has killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 60.

Within an hour, Israel hit back with a missile attack on a car in Gaza City, which killed seven people including two senior Hamas members and wounded dozens of bystanders. Then a short time later Israeli helicopter gunships fired more missiles in Gaza killing at least two more Palestinians.

It's one of the worst eruptions of violence in this three-year Intifada and it comes exactly one week after the peace summit in Aqaba in which the Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to work toward a peace settlement.

The United States President has again condemned the violence and while the Israeli Government has defended its assassination attacks, both the Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen and Yasser Arafat are now calling on all Palestinian factions to stop their attacks against Israel.

When the Roadmap was first published and agreed to by the parties I expressed scepticism here and there. I was partly wrong, Sharon has gone much further than I expected, but the Roadmap leads nowhere as long as the Palestinian side does not control its extremes and the Israeli side maintains the assassinations policy and the settlements.

It seems to me that the Palestinian authority does not have (if it ever had) the capacity to control Hamas and the others. Perhaps destroying the Palestinian authority's security infrastructure was not Israel's brightest policy initiative. How that capacity can be increased enough to satisfy Israel's demand for security is really the only question and the Roadmap does not address that effectively. Transatlantic phone calls will not suffice. International boots on the ground might and those who supported the Iraq invasion on failed state grounds should ask themselves about the situation in the Occupied Territories.

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