avi dichter 298 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
If the Palestinian Authority continues to turn a blind eye to the activities of terrorists in the West Bank then it shouldn't be surprised if one day it loses control of that territory as it lost the Gaza Strip, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter told The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of a counterterrorism conference at the IDC in Herzliya.
Dichter said that, while he believed Hamas surprised itself with the way things unfolded during its rapid takeover of the Gaza Strip two months ago, it was not going to let go of its control of the area.
"The PA is managing to survive largely because of the way the IDF is fighting terrorism in the West Bank. The West Bank is also an area that has a lot of opportunities right now and I hope that the Palestinians make use of them. Israel also needs to be wise enough to exploit what the Palestinians can do there. What happened in Jenin [when PA police rescued an errant IDF officer from a lynching] was very important," Dichter said.
Referring to plans by Gen. Keith Dayton, the US appointed security coordinator to the Palestinian Authority, for a gradual withdrawal of an IDF presence in the West Bank, to be replaced by organized PA security forces, Dichter was adamant that the two processes needed to be carried out simultaneously.
"There is a difference between withdrawing from the West Bank and withdrawing from Palestinian cities. Withdrawing the IDF from Palestinian cities is a process that could be carried out in tandem with a process of the PA building the law enforcement institutions that it is bound to build. These start from investigations, arrests, bringing people to trial, imprisonment and the like. These are the essential elements of a country that really wants to grapple with terrorist and criminal elements," Dichter
told the Post.
The PA invested a large amount of procrastination in the Gaza Strip and reaped what they sowed there," he added.
Turning to recent talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Dichter said, "What is happening now is not a final status agreement but rather a temporary agreement. It is conditioned on processes that need to be carried out in the West Bank. We have no intention of embarking on experiments in Judea and Samaria, at the end of which we could return to the situation we were at before April 2002, before Operation Defensive Shield. We've been there before and we paid with 900 fatalities in the course of three years."
Dichter added that there was no possibility now of the two sides embarking on a full, final status peace process. "Anyone who thinks that this is possible now needs to open his eyes and wake up from the dream," he said.