Before the latest suicide operation in Tel Aviv; which Al Aksa Brigades denied responsibility for, the Palestinians were trying to speculate on what kind of military strikes to expect from Ariel Sharon on the eve of the Israeli general elections. The Palestinians have reached the conclusions that extremism is on the rise in Israel, and that Sharon and his party were determined to increase their oppression against the Palestinians in order to appease the radical voters. In the meantime, the Palestinians remain hopeful that Fatah and Hamas will be able to solve their differences with the help of Egypt.
Rather than working toward the success of the Cairo talks, supporters of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, insisted to undermine such efforts and to impose their position on all sides. Their double operation in Tel Aviv only increased the anxiety of the people in the West Bank and Gaza about their future, and deepened their conviction that the Islamic and patriotic forces are only working to secure their own interests, caring little about the welfare of the people.
There is no doubt that the Tel Aviv operation has caused damage to the Palestinian issue, larger than what was caused by previous operations. Those who planned and financed it appeared as caring little about its effect on the dialogue within the Palestinian factions and on Egypt’s efforts. They cared little for its negative effect on Palestinian-Egyptian relations; since Egypt is trying its utmost to convince them of the need to halt such operations especially at this time. Moreover, they succeeded in demonstrating the impotence of the Palestinian Authority. In addition, the jubilation that members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad demonstrated on the Arab satellite TV channels for the death of 15 Israeli civilians and seven foreign workers, showed that the main parties to the Cairo meeting, (Hamas, Jihad and Fatah), are not too concerned about its success.
The main difference between the Islamic groups and the Popular Front is on the best methods to serve that issue. Experience tells us that there are always successful ways that benefit the cause, while there are successful ways that harm. Regardless of the motives behind the Tel Aviv bombing, it can only be described as harmful to the Palestinians.
Moreover, supporters of the suicide operations are blamed for weakening the peace movement in Israel and promoting extremism within the Israeli society, in addition to deflecting attention from the problems that Likud faces over charges of corruption. They also drive undecided Israelis to support the extreme factions which call for killing the Arabs and deporting the Palestinians. Still, while it is true that the suicide operations demonstrate the failure of the security theory that Sharon adopts, and that the pattern of Intifada and resistance has caused considerable damage to the Israeli economy, it is also true that such operations drive the Israeli society to more extremism.
There is no doubt that disagreement over the suicide operations is normal, however, democratic principles dictate that no side should have the capability to impose its will on the other, and to implement the policy that it pleases with no consideration to the consequences of such policy on the others.
I think that the Tel Aviv operation was wrong in its timing and place, as well as its target. It is the right of the Palestinian people to demand Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade and those who share responsibility with them to admit this huge error and to apologize for it, just as Fatah had apologized for the march of masked men in Gaza a few days ago. In any case, high Palestinian interests must remain above any other considerations.