Feb 10, 2005 8:47 pm


I woke up this morning to the following news:

"GAZA CITY (AFP) - The Palestinian leadership reacted furiously after the radical Islamic group Hamas defied a new ceasefire agreement by unleashing a volley of mortars at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Israel responded by cancelling a meeting to discuss the implementation of the agreements reached at this week's landmark summit between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. Click here for for more.

Moreover, the terrorists challenged not only the Sharm agreement but also internal peace by instigating a prison break -in. "However, during the night, the terrorists struck again. Dozens of armed Hamas-Fatah al Aqsa Brigades- Palestinian Fronts-Popular Resistance Committees gang pre-empted Israel’s prisoner release gesture by storming the Palestinian Authority’s central prison in Gaza City. They murdered three inmates and a policeman and released all their comrades from the PA installation."

Let's be honest. This is a moment of truth for the PA elected leader. If he fails to act - PA democracy is dead. He has the mandate and the legal authority. The only question is has he the nerve to use it. Sharon did the right thing. There is nothing to talk about if he does not. There are those who claim that Rice did not go to the Sharm meeting because she did not think he has the right stuff. America had its Whisky rebellion, Israel its Altalena and France had its Day of the Jackal (I read a 1963-64(?) message sent from France to the US to the effect that France cannot send any troops abroad because it cannot trust their loyalty). Mandella, too, had his troubles. Now, Abbas must have his"something" or let his people down.

I do not envy him. This is as tough as it gets. But thriving democracies are those where the office has strengthened the hand of the leader. Just think about Truman or Thatcher. The alternative is Buchanan who let Kansas bleed and the country to spiral into a full fledged civil war. Democracy is not for the feint of heart. This is not a fight he picked for self aggrandizement. It is a fight he owes his people who put their trust in him. When he ran for office he promised his people he has the right stuff. He must demonstrate it not with" consultations" as if the challenge has been unexpected but with action.

What would Muhammad do?

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