To the Editor:
Today the Israeli government agreed to remove its troops from the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem in return for a promise by the Palestinian Authority to police the territories and crack down on the terrorist groups that operate there. For the first time in months, the Palestinian Authority is being allowed to exert its authority over its people without interference from Israeli troops.
What happens next will be a major test for the future of the region.
Already the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have denounced the compromise and have pledged to continue their attacks against Israelis. These extremist groups believe that Israel must be destroyed, and they have ruled out any compromise where a Palestine would exist alongside Israel.
If the Palestinian Authority can crack down on these groups and foster something positive for its people instead of a culture of martyrdom and terrorism, then the peace process can get started again. However, if the Palestinian Authority fails to crack down on the terrorist groups and allows attacks against Israel to continue, then it will only have itself to blame for its bleak future.