Monday, October 27, 2003

A Roadmap Timeline

Just to back up my earlier comments regarding this summer's Middle East peace roadmap, I pulled together some links from BBC.

June 10 - Despite ongoing talks between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas in order to arrange a cease-fire, Israel attempts the assassination of prominent Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, drawing condemnation from the West, and around the Middle East.

June 29 - Despite the attack, and despite a round of arrests, after negotiations with Abbas Hamas announces a truce for 3 months in order to test Israeli commitment to the roadmap.

Aug 8 - After more than a month of relative peace, the Israeli military raids Nablus and kills two Hamas leaders. The IDF also kills two bystanders gathered after the initial attack. Hamas re-affirms their commitment to the roadmap, but warns that there will be specific reprisals for this attack.

Aug 12 - Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades stage minor attacks in response to the Nablus raid. One person was killed in each attack.

Aug 14 - Israel responds by killing another militant leader.

Aug 20 - Islamic Jihad and Hamas come back with a particularly brutal attack that kills 20, injures 80.

The Aug 20 attack was followed up by the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Abu Shanab and the attempted assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. After this attack, Hamas vowed to "open the gates of hell" and the roadmap was officially finished.

What I get from this is not an irrational organization hell-bent on derailing the peace process. Hamas, despite suffering ongoining attacks right up to the day before Yassin agreed to the truce, signed onto a cease-fire in order to help the roadmap along. The Israeli military stated at repeated occasions that they felt that they were under no obligation whatsoever regarding the truce since that was simply an action undertaken by the Palestinians. They continued their operations against the militant groups throughout the entire time. Hamas and the other organizations responded to Israeli operations in a tit-for-tat manner until an attempt was finally made on the Hamas founder, at which point the gloves came off and the game was over. Hamas is a rational actor, willing to participate in the peace process if given an opportunity. It is to all of our disadvantage that they continue to be regarded as a convenient scapegoat by which to essentially blame the entire conflict on the evil actions of the childish Palestinians.

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