The terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, Thursday, Jan. 19, reminds us again of the Palestinian part of the mess that is the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict. Ten years ago, at a time of calm and renewed hope for peace, in the first week of January 1996, Prime Minister Shimon Peres made the fateful decision to allow the Shin Bet to “off” Yihya Ayyash, the notorious “engineer”— the Hamas inventor of the suicide belt. This event led directly to a wave of savage attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in the midst of an election campaign, which caused Peres to lose his 20- point lead and for Benjamin Netanyahu to eventually emerge victorious, fatally slowing the Oslo peace process to an agonizing crawl.
To answer this response I feel it neccesary to direct you to an article written a while back by Uri Avnery, with the most relevant bits below.
..Those who now demand that Abu-Mazen “repeat the Altalena Affair”, are using dangerous demagoguery. The request sounds reasonable, but the circumstances are quite different. Among other things:
* Ben-Gurion began to destroy the Irgun after the British had left and the State of Israel had already been established, both formally and in fact. Abu-Mazen is being asked to do this while the State of Palestine does not exist and the Israeli army controls all the occupied territories.
* Ben-Gurion, like Yasser Arafat today, possessed the necessary moral, legal and practical authority. Abu-Mazen does not.
* At the disposal of Ben-Gurion was a large and disciplined army, which was already battle-tested. (I was a soldier at the time, and my company had an indirect part in the affair.) Abu-Mazen has nothing. During the last two years, the Israeli army has systematically destroyed the installations of the Palestinian security forces, including their prisons and data-bases. When Israeli soldiers see an armed Palestinian policeman they kill him on the spot, in violation of the Oslo agreements that created an armed police force.
There is no similarity between this situation and the background of the Altalena Affair. Arafat and Abu-Mazen are now behaving exactly as Ben-Gurion did in a similar phase: putting moral and practical pressure on the “dissidents”, arguing and threatening them.
The elimination of our armed underground was possible only because the vast majority of the Israeli population understood that with the establishment of the state the national aim had been attained, and the actions of the armed groups could only endanger that achievement. When the State of Palestine is established, and the majority of the Palestinian people realize that their national aim has been achieved, it will not be difficult for their leaders to overcome the armed organizations that try to obstruct them.
Before that, no Palestinian “sacred cannon” will open fire.