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The PLO: Still a threat?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. 2000 and after.
  3. Enter Hamas.
  4. Threat assessment/ risk assessment.
  5. Conclusions.

When the historic "Gaza and Jericho" first agreement was signed in September 1993 at the White House in Washington, D. C., in the presence of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and President Clinton, uproar and discontent were exhibited by all radical groups, Israeli and Palestinian. The main objections that were raised were religiously articulated, i.e., the giving up of greater Israel or the promised land or Palestine, the eternally and religiously endowed land. Of course, the first Islamic groups to object were the Islamist movements such as Hamas and al-Jihad al-Islami. With this agreement, the PLO found itself in the odd position of being a voice of "moderation" in the Middle East. Arafat also attacked Palestinian Islamic movements and accused Israel of strengthening them with the aim of having them compete with the PLO. (Usher 1994) In the decade since, Arafat has died, the post 9/11 "war on terror" dominates the world scene, the US is in Iraq and is attracting terror elements from all over the world, Spain and England have faced terror attacks, and the PLO has been eclipsed by the Islamicist Hamas.

[...] Frum and Perle (2004) provide a threat profile--one clearly evident in the proclamations of the Bush administration as well--that takes the shocking attack on the morning of September 11 by a small and relatively weak organization and transforms it into an order-shaping event that represents the opening of a titanic long-term global struggle. This interpretation is an unquestioned article of faith among those who embrace the policies pursued by the Bush administration since September 11 and particularly among those who were ardent supporters of the war in Iraq. [...]

[...] It is thus unlikely to move, as a whole, to the right of Hamas, and to fully embrace the anti-Israeli violence it was known for prior to the Oslo accords and the peace process. As a national liberation movement, the PLO is the pallbearer of a dead ideology. Given the minimal threat of a post-9/11, post-Hamas, post-Arafat PLO, is there as a risk that what's left of the PLO threat can be carried out? Certainly, especially now that we are in the throes of a "war on terror" that smacks of the last great ideological struggle, the Cold War. [...]

[...] When the Israeli government recognized the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people and signed the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, there was a need to convince many Israelis to adopt beliefs of coexistence towards the Palestinians. During the years 1994-1995, the educational system ran programs to promote peaceful ideas and it declared peace as a unifying national theme for the school year of 1994-1995. The law forbidding contact with PLO representatives was repealed and contacts between Israeli Jews and Palestinians increased dramatically. [...]

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