Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas charged that a fire that damaged a Palestinian mosque in the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian West Bank was set by Israeli terrorists among militant colonists of the territory. Israeli Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also said he suspected arson.
Hamas, the Muslim fundamentalist party that controls the Gaza Strip, the other territory of the Palestine Authority, said that the terrorist incident demonstrates how unfruitful the negotiations set between Abbas and the Israelis are likely to be.
Haaretz reports that extremist Israeli settlers are planning to set fire in more Palestinian mosques, i.e. planning to engage in further terrorism, as a means of fighting the closure of illegal squatter colonies on the Palestinian West Bank. The Palestinian West Bank is Palestinian territory captured by Israel in 1967. Although in the international law (formulated after WW II to prevent a repetition of the crimes of the Nazis) it is illegal for an occupying Power to import its own citizens into an Occupied territory, the Israeli government has since 1973 been sponsoring large colonies on the West Bank, involving massive theft of Palestinian land and resources, including water.
In addition, vigilante colonists have set up scattered squatter settlements that are considered illegal even in Israeli law. It is those that the government sometimes dismantles, in part because they are amid Palestinian villages and the colonists are difficult to protect.
The Israeli government need not worry too much. The militant Israeli squatters are heavily armed and have a vigilante ethos, and have been attacking Palestinians in their villages and preventing them from harvesting their olive groves that lie near Israeli colonies.
Having often received carte blanche from the authorities to terrorize Palestinians in other ways, they can hardly be blamed for thinking it perfectly natural to now engage in arson against their holy sites.
The Mideast is on tenterhooks. Jordan is terrified that far rightwing Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman will attempt to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians and displace them to Jordan. They also fear that the Jordan river will be dried up by extensive Israeli siphoning. Lebanon is jittery about another attack on Beirut. Iran has pledged to defend Syria if the Israelis attack Damascus, over the alleged transfer to Lebanese Shiite party-militia Hizbullah of SCUD missiles.