The Washington Posts editorial "Bad Start
in Gaza" (September 15) deserves to be read and praised. This is
noteworthy since it represents a break with Post editorials and
commentaries through the preceding two months (see, for example, CAMERAs
August 29 Washington Post-Watch, critiquing the editorial "Mr.
Sharons Resolve" [August 18]).
"A Bad Start in Gaza" stresses, in an accurate,
timely way, that:
* "Only days after the final withdrawal of Israeli
forces, the Gaza Strip is on the verge of anarchy. Despite promises to impose
law and order, the Palestinian Authority has allowed mobs of looters and armed
extremists to rampage ...".
* "Despite a formal agreement with Israel to maintain
security, Egypt has allowed thousands of Palestinians to illegally cross its
border, including rifle-brandishing militants."
* "If it is not quickly checked, the disorder will
destroy Palestinian hopes that the Gaza transfer will become a step toward
* "This weeks events further undermine the claim
of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he can impose democratic rule of
law in Gaza without directly confronting armed extremists groups such as Hamas
and Islamic Jihad."
* Israel still has "legitimate security concerns"
regarding the Gaza Strip, including maintenance of internal order by the PA and
proper control of the frontier by Palestinian, Egyptian and Israel forces.
* "Unless Palestinian and Egyptian leaders take
immediate steps to fulfill their commitments in Gaza, they will bear the
responsibility for a new stalemate or worse in the Middle
Departing from its pattern of transferring the
responsibility for successful Palestinian governance in Gaza to Israel, the
Postfinally addresses the ability and/or willingness of Abbas and the
PA, and the Egyptians, to fulfill their obligations.
Yes, the editorial does worry that "In Israel,
continuing disorder [in the Gaza Strip] will give a boost to hard-line
challengers to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the architect of the Gaza
evacuation." And it notes that "Sharon probably will reiterate ...
that Israel will consider no more territorial withdrawals or other concessions
to the Palestinians until militant groups are dismantled." The Post
column does not dismiss the position it expects Sharon to take,.even while it
specifies PA and Egyptian failures.
And though the editorial continues to blindly insist on
labeling Palestinian terrorists as militants, it makes a small concession to
reality, also terming terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad
"armed extremists groups."
In some ways, "Bad Start in Gaza" is a tacit
correction of "Mr. Sharons Resolve." The Post should be
commended on the improvement.