Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Mahmoud Abbas have signed a cease-fire agreement over four years after the beginning of the current Palestinian intifada. The death of Yasser Arafat has improved the possibility of peace, leading to the agreement signed at Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt this morning.
The problem with such a deal is that groups like Hamas and Hizb’Allah have no intention of playing along with any deal that acknowledges the right of Israel to exist. While Fatah may play along, their “military wing”, the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades may not. At the end of the day, Abbas can only promise so much, and there’s no guarantee he can keep to those promises.
The only way there will be peace between Israel and its neighbors is when its neighbors acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and end their proxy war against it. Abbas, to his credit, seems to be willing to deal with the Israelis more honestly than Arafat, but that may not be enough. The Palestinian territories have become petri dishes for terrorism, and the hatred that has been formented through years of propaganda that begins at birth cannot be so easily erased.
This is a very positive move, and Abbas and Sharon deserve credit for having the will to come together at the negotiating table and end this bloody and unnecessary conflict. However, until Hamas, Hizb’Allah, Islamic Jihad, and the other terrorist groups are either destroyed or utterly discredited, peace will remain all too elusive.