I hate to bring this up. Truly I do. I wouldn't want to point to any hard, cold evidence that might disrupt the comfortable fantasy world of the 'Road map.' But I will. And it's this.
Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
That's an essential part of "Phase I," (to be completed by May, 2003) which, according to the palestinians' official evaluation of their own performance, is "in progress."
But here's what the man in charge of implementing this "confrontation" in the Gaza Strip had to say yesterday on this subject:
The Palestinian Authority has no intention of disarming armed Palestinian groups, the head of the PA Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, Rashid Abu Shabak, announced Sunday. "Those who think that the road map plan means disarming Palestinian factions are mistaken," he said.
Shabak further denied that attempts are being to made to arrest members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Instead, he says he is busy rounding up accused collaborators with Israel.
He noted that some of the suspects have been executed and others have been sentenced to death.
"We are waiting for President Yasser Arafat to approve the death sentences so that we can execute them," he added.
Nor is Shabak alone in this disposition. A poll taken of 731 palestinian adults last week revealed that in response to the question:
If the Palestinian Authority orders "Fatah Tanzim" and other organizations indirectly linked to the PA's security services to hand over their weapons for confiscation or destruction. What do you believe that "Fatah Tanzim" and other organization should do?
49.2% responded "Hide their weapons," and another 41.7% responded "Do nothing." A whopping 9.1% said "Hand them over".
Nor were the responses regarding support for Abu Mazen's declared intentions to end instigation and violence much more encouraging.
So. Tell me. Are we there yet?