There are a number of reports
this morning about an interview that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas gave to a London-based Arabic newspaper. Abbas repeated that the armed "intifada" has harmed Palestinians and therefore should be stopped. Obviously this is being trumpeted as more signs of Palestinian willingness to stop their war against Israel and negotiate. But looking a bit more closely at the situation shows that in reality nothing has changed. Despite Abbas calling for an end to armed attacks, his silence on the attack on IDF troops in Rafah was deafening. In fact,
[t]he interview contrasted with strong praise in the Palestinian Authority's official media for an armed attack on an Israeli border post in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.
As it was under Arafat, what is said in the West and what is said directly to the Palestinians are two different things.
Moreover, Abbas's reason for wanting to stop armed attacks is simply that
"The use of live weaponry has harmed the intifada and it should stop".
The fact that it is immoral, and evil to target and kill innocent men, women, and children, is not a factor in his desire to stop these attacks. This omission clearly shows that there is still no true desire for peace on the Palestinian side. Abbas wants the attacks to stop because it is bad for the Palestinians, but if it becomes useful for them would he then condone them?
Of course, obscured in all this is that Abbas still has no control of the "security services" of the Palestinians and thus has no power base. He would not be able to stop terrorist attacks against Israel no matter what he says. Believing Abbas's words at this point is wishful thinking. It seems, however, that President Bush is not falling for them.