Israel warily has agreed to reopen discussions with the
Authority, after PA Chairman Abu Mazen ordered Palestinian security forces to deploy at Gaza hot spots
to prevent rocket attacks and terrorist bombings aimed at Israel.
"The State of Israel is monitoring the implementation of the steps which the Palestinian
Authority has declared that it is taking against terrorism," a Jan. 19 statement from Israel's
Security Cabinet said.
"The Cabinet supports the residents of the communities bearing the brunt of the
terrorist assault, and IDF soldiers, the police and security force personnel who are fighting Palestinian terrorism," the statement added. The Security Cabinet includes Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; Vice Premier Shimon Peres; Industry-Trade-Employment Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Defense Minister Shaul
Earlier on Jan. 19, Shalom had welcomed Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn to Jerusalem for discussions on the Middle East situation. Asselborn is the current president of the
25-nation European Union.
In a news release, Shalom said their discussion focused on "the continued failure of the Palestinian Authority to stop the terrorist attacks on our communities." He added that
"Israel will not tolerate the continuation of these attacks. Today I demanded of the European Union to do everything in its power to bring about the necessary Palestinian actions."
Shalom said terrorists not only threaten Israeli civilians but also the security
of the Palestinian Authority and Europe. "The Palestinian president must confront them and dismantle their infrastructure, if there is to be any hope of bringing calm to our region and returning to the path of negotiations.
In his statement to the media on Jan. 19, Asselborn said: "I will be perfectly clear: the European Union condemns terrorism without hesitation. There is no justification for terrorist acts and we must put an end to them. Nobody should have to live under the threat of attacks from Qassam rockets. We are aware of the very clear statements of the President of the Palestinian Authority on this issue and we are counting on him to take firm action. Despite the recent terrorist attacks, we think, however, that it is important for the parties to seize the opportunity to restart the peace process. We must not allow these terrorist acts to sabotage the legitimate desire of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples for peace."
Following a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 20, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Asselborn commented: "It is important that the newly elected President of the Palestinian Authority is a partner for peace. We understand the difficulties the Palestinians but violent means and terror will never be acceptable and will lead to an impasse. A democratic State can only be built by peaceful means and through negotiations. Palestinians must chose once and for all and fully renounce violence and whole-heartedly pursue the political path: it is impossible to have it both ways.
"Security for Palestinians and Israelis remains therefore the key to progress. This point has also been made very clearly in all the meetings I had yesterday, be it with the Israeli President, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Bringing security is the most immediate priority. Suicide bombings have to stop; rocket attacks must stop.
"I therefore welcome wholeheartedly the decisions taken by President Abbas to deploy Palestinian security forces in the border area so as to act firmly. Extremists should not be given the right of veto in the peace process. Extremists should not be given the right of veto in the peace process.
"Only a domestically strong Palestinian Authority can deliver security and peace. This is why the successful continuation of the reform process is of utmost importance."