• "The continuation of settlement construction is the main obstacle to the success of the peace process," the PLO leadership said in a statement that completely ignored the calls for jihad by several Palestinian terror groups.

As the U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority continue, Palestinian terror groups are preparing for jihad against Israel.

At the negotiations, the Palestinian Authority representatives are talking about the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, namely the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

But the voices coming out of the Gaza Strip's various terror groups are talking about preparations to "liberate all Palestine, from the river to the sea."

Since the resumption of the peace talks about two months ago, these groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have repeatedly announced that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from Palestinians to make any concessions to Israel.

"Hamas's eyes are set on the liberation of Jerusalem and the prisoners," declared Abu Obaida, spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam. "Our hearts are set on Lod, Ramle, Al-Majdal [Ashkelon] and other all the villages in occupied Palestine."

Abu Obaida said that his group, which consists of several thousand militiamen, possesses "strategic weapons" that would be used against Israel.

Another terror group, the Unification Brigade, announced this week that its men were also preparing for jihad against Israel. The group is affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.

Members of Fatah's armed wing, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, have also come out against the ongoing peace talks with Israel. Leaflets published by the group in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past few weeks have affirmed its commitment to the armed struggle against Israel as the only option to "achieving Palestinian aspirations and rights."

These terror groups are not lacking in weapons and motivation to engage in another round of violence with Israel.

Despite the security restrictions imposed by the Egyptians in Sinai and the demolition of more than 300 tunnels, these terror groups have managed to find other ways to smuggle more weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip say that some of these groups are armed with anti-aircraft missiles and long-range missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and even further north.

The preparations for war coincide with public opinion polls that show that a majority of Palestinians anticipate a third intifada if the peace talks fail.

One poll showed that 58% of Palestinians predict the outbreak of a new intifada if the talks collapse.

Another survey indicated that more than 70% of Palestinians believe that the armed struggle against Israel remains the only option to "liberating all Palestine."

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, has thus far refrained from condemning the calls for war. Instead, the PLO leadership, which held a meeting in Ramallah earlier last week, continued to hold Israel fully responsible for "placing obstacles on the way to achieving progress in the peace talks."

"The continuation of settlement construction is the main obstacle to the success of the peace process," the PLO leadership said in a statement that completely ignored the calls for jihad by several Palestinian terror groups.

The allegation came as Palestinian Authority officials continued to declare that the peace talks have reached a "dead-end" and that Israel was not sincere about reaching peace with the Palestinians.

Nabil Sha'ath, a senior Fatah official and former negotiator, announced that Israel's demand to retain control over some parts of the West bank in a final settlement with the Palestinians "reveal the true intentions of Israel, which does not want to reach a solution."

It is such statements that are providing the terror groups with an excuse to step up their calls for jihad against Israel.

So while the Palestinian Authority is continuing to talk peace with Israel, it is at the same time telling Palestinians that they should not expect anything to come out of the negotiations.

If the Palestinian Authority itself is declaring day and night that the talks with Israel are a waste of time, why shouldn't the terror groups prepare for war? And it is no surprise that a majority of Palestinians are convinced that a third intifada is on its way.

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Related Topics:  Israel, Palestinian Authority
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