March 9th, 2008 04:19 EST
Despite Violence, Peace Process Continues
By Robert Berger
The Palestinian Authority says an eruption of violence must not be allowed to derail the Middle East peace process. Nevertheless, there is still no date for resuming U.S.-backed peace talks.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says there is no other path than peace.
He says that despite all the attacks, he insists on peace.
The peace process has been left in tatters by a wave of deadly violence. First, Israel launched a five-day incursion in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 120 Palestinians, both militants and civilians.The Israeli incursion was a response to daily Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. Mr. Abbas, whose Fatah group controls only the West Bank, suspended peace talks in the wake of Israel's assault.
Tensions escalated further on Thursday when a Palestinian gunman stormed a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, killing eight people, nearly all of them teenagers.
Israel has signaled that it, too, wants to return to peace talks despite the seminary shooting. But the attack reinforces Israeli concerns that Mr. Abbas has little control over militant groups.
Israeli analyst Hillel Frisch says Israel is negotiating with a leader who cannot deliver.
"The conclusion is that Abbas has very little capabilities of dealing with terrorism and sticking to any bargain that takes place between Palestinians and Israelis," he said.
President Abbas says he is supporting Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas which rules Gaza. He says a truce would create a positive atmosphere for resuming peace talks.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said if Hamas stops firing rockets, Israel will halt its military activities in Gaza.