(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A failure to make progress in the upcoming Annapolis peace parley could lead to increased violence in the region - although it was not likely to lead to a wave of terror reminiscent of the October 2000 intifada following the Oslo Accords - Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin said Monday.
"The high expectations and possible failure of the summit could definitely motivate Palestinian militants to increase their attempts to carry out a terror attack. But we are not expecting the intensity of the wave of terror that we saw in October 2000," Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Moreover, the Palestinians are "exhausted" and do not have the type of charismatic and convincing leadership that led them to support terror movements in 2000, Diskin said.
Nevertheless, Diskin warned the committee that Israel should not consider making the Palestinians responsible for security in the West Bank. He said that if control of the West Bank were handed over to Palestinian security forces, Israel would suffer a "significant threat to its security."
Diskin also said that delays in the completion of the security barrier around the West Bank would pose serious problems to Israel if terror groups decided to increase their attempts to perpetrate attacks. He said there were large portions of the barrier in and around Jerusalem that have not yet been constructed.
"Through these gaps, potential terrorists can easily enter Jerusalem and carry out attacks," said Diskin. "There is an urgent need to complete the fence."
Turning his attention to the Gaza Strip, Diskin said that the Israeli security establishment supported recent measures taken, including cutting off power supplies, as long as they did not lead to a humanitarian crisis.
"[Gaza residents] are under the impression that Israel is planning to invade," said Diskin.
He added that since Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, 112 tons of explosives have been smuggled into the Strip, more than 70 tons since Hamas's takeover in June.
"They are using the explosives and other smuggled material to increase their arsenal," said Diskin.
Meanwhile, Gaza-based terror groups are still attempting to kidnap Israelis in the Sinai Peninsula and move them into Gaza through a network of underground tunnels, Diskin warned.