Can this be regarded as a formal declaration of war against Israel by the PA? Makes me wonder why the PA should go to such lengths in order to provide legitimation for Israeli attacks against itself and the (unfortunate) population it represents (subjugates?) as to give an interview to a conservative Israeli newspaper with mainly international circulation...
Oct. 1, 2002
PA Gen. Masri: We can stop Hamas, but won't
By MATTHEW GUTMAN
From news article:
The Palestinian Authority has the strength but not the will to smash terrorist groups and their support networks in the Gaza Strip, a top PA security official said yesterday.
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Masri, head of the Political Security Department at the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, said the long- awaited crackdown on Hamas promised by former PA interior minister Abdel Razek Yahya will likely never happen.
The PA security establishment sees no compelling reason to confront either Hamas, whose popularity is soaring, or the other Palestinian rejectionist groups. For this reason, Masri does not anticipate the ending of terrorist attacks in Israel in the near future.
Taking on Hamas at this juncture, with January's Palestinian elections looming, would be political suicide, added the general. "The Palestinian street shows great support for Hamas and other groups opposing the PA, so we prefer to use other, more democratic methods," he said.
"Capabilities and principle are two different things. Besides ending the occupation, our major goal is not to be labeled collaborators," said Masri.
For this reason, he added, his men are much more actively engaged in protecting themselves -- against both Israel and the opposition groups -- than they are in breaking the terrorist infrastructure, which many Palestinians consider the backbone of the Gaza Strip.
"Why should we be responsible for security in Tel Aviv," asked Masri, "when we have enough trouble protecting our own people against Israel?" For this reason, the GIS is not engaged in roundups of suspects, but is attempting to dialogue with them.
Hamas political leader Dr. Mahmoud Zahar scoffed at the notion that dialogue could bring an end to the group's "armed resistance." He accused the PA of arriving in the territories and diving headlong into corruption, which eventually alienated the Palestinian populace.
Far from working against Hamas, Zahar noted that it was Fatah men who aided and protected the identity of an injured Muhammad Deif in the immediate aftermath of Israel's botched September 26 assassination attempt on the Hamas military leader.
Or is there something about ME politics that no Westerner will ever understand?