Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has admitted that the Israeli government and the Bush Administration are playing Russian roulette with the lives of Israelis by making security gestures to the Palestinian Authority.
Earlier in the week, Barak approved the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Jenin area in northern Samaria and the deployment of PA police there, the easing of travel restrictions imposed on the Palestinians to prevent terrorist infiltrations, and the transfer of more military equipment, including 600 armored vehicles, to Palestinian forces loyal to US-backed leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The gestures were part of a list prepared by Barak apparently under pressure from US envoy General James Jones and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to show progress on the ground before President George W. Bush visits the region in May.
But in a recent meeting with Jones, The Jerusalem Post cited Barak as warning that the gestures are just as likely to backfire and present Israel with increased security problems as they are to bolster Abbas and improve security for Israel.
Barak noted that just as it had in Gaza, Hamas could seize power in Judea and Samaria and capture all the weapons given to Abbas to prevent just such an occurrence.
Despite significant advantages in manpower and weapons, including a fresh supply of US-made arms, forces loyal to Abbas were easily defeated by the Iranian-backed Hamas in Gaza. Following the victory, Hamas put the captured American weapons on display before turning them on Israel.