- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Amid preparations for statehood, Pales-tinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad remain inexplicably silent regarding the brutal terrorist attack by Hamas’ militia against Israel on Aug. 18, which claimed eight lives.

This tongue-biting from the PA’s top guns should concern world leaders, specifically United Nations members set to vote on the resolution for a Palestinian state next month.

Mr. Abbas, well capable of taking a strong stand of condemnation, decided to blatantly ignore the murder of innocent Israelis in the terror attack north of Eilat, hypocritically finding it his duty instead to condemn Israel for its retaliatory security measures conducted in Gaza.

If the PA, led by Mr. Abbas, is incapable of cracking down on deadly terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip, how can it expect to lead a new nation?

By allowing such attacks to occur and remaining silent in the aftermath, Mr. Abbas is proving to the world that he lacks control in Gaza.

If the Palestinians intend to declare a unified state, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad must find a way to govern the Gaza Strip and regulate Hamas’ actions.

Just four months ago, Hamas and the PA created a unity government as a final stepping-stone toward statehood before the U.N. vote. If the two parties are indeed working together, who can be held responsible for the attacks? While it is clear the blame lies on Hamas, could the PA have been complicit?

Evidence on the ground overwhelmingly indicates that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are not as closely connected as the recent coalition government indicates and Hamas should be held fully accountable for the attacks.

While the PA-Hamas schism exonerates Mr. Abbas of culpability in executing terrorism, it sheds further light on the PA’s power void in Gaza, casting tremendous doubts on the possibility of a united Palestinian state.

If Palestinians expect the U.N. to vote in favor of a new state, how can that state be divided, with moderates leading in the West Bank and terrorists ruling in Gaza?

These are questions world leaders must consider before casting their votes next month. The global community needs to acknowledge the troubling dichotomy in Palestinian leadership and must hold Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad accountable in denouncing terrorism.

It is time for Palestinian leaders to show responsibility by not tolerating such actions from Hamas. If Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad are expected to govern the state of Palestine, global leaders and organizations must urge them to condemn brutal attacks launched by terrorists against civilians.

Egypt also must be held accountable for the attack on Aug. 18.

Though Egyptians turning a blind eye toward securing the Sinai Peninsula is nothing new, terrorists’ ability to smuggle arms and terrorists in that region has tremendously increased since former President Mubarak’s ouster. Officials in Egypt must completely crack down on smuggling in the Sinai.

The world must speak out against all responsible parties: Hamas for terrorizing innocent civilians, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad for staying silent in the aftermath, and Egypt for irresponsibly losing control of the Sinai Peninsula.

It is important to recognize that Israelis and Palestinians both want peace, but Hamas’ reign in Gaza repeatedly undermines these efforts.

The ongoing attacks, including last week’s assault, demonstrate a need to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. Once Hamas is defeated, peace talks can continue, and the hope for a peaceful two-state solution can endure.

A brighter day for the Middle East may be near, but in it there would be no room for Hamas.

Avi Dichter is a member of the Israeli Knesset and a former Shin Bet director.

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