“Any help Israel offers the Palestinians would be limited if they continue to blame Israel for everything and their values don’t change,” he said. “The Palestinians know they have responsibility for their situation but they lay the blame on Israel and hang their hopes on Israel improving their situation.”
The army official added, “Nothing will happen if a change doesn’t takes place in their political values and they internalize values such as the rule of law.”
The Palestinians are not happy with the disengagement plan, to say the least, the officer said, but they are forced to accept it because the international community presses them.
“In their (Palestinian) eyes, they are always the victim who gets screwed,” he said.
‘Pullout to hurt terrorists’
Outwardly, the Palestinians may say the disengagement plan marks a victory for them and their strategy, namely the path of terrorism, but they understand this is not the case, the IDF official said, and added the Palestinians know Israel is moving ahead with the withdrawal because it is in the country’s best interest.
“This plan, which hinges on separation between the two populations, will deliver a severe blow to terrorism by significantly minimizing (terrorists’) ability to hit Israel’s civilian population,” he said. “The disengagement undermines the essence of terrorism, which strives to hurt civilians. That’s why they don’t like it.”
However, despite their frustration, the Palestinians are forced to praise the pullout because the world views it as a test before any progress could be made on the U.S.-brokered Road Map, the officer said.
“It’s completely uncertain whether they’ll be passing the test,” he said.
Addressing recent comments by outgoing Army Chief Moshe Yaalon regarding a possible terror offensive following the pullout, the IDF official downplayed the concerns and said Yaalon was not clearly understood.
“He said there was a whole range of scenarios, including the ones he mentioned,” the officer said. “There are certainly such scenarios, but there are also different ones. For example, there’s a chance the Hamas will strengthen, but it’s also possible attempts to strengthen the Fatah at the expense of Hamas may succeed.”
Moreover, despite Palestinian warnings about the possibility of a third intifadah, the officer said that even if they resort to violence, the Palestinians might soon find their capabilities are limited.
“It would be very difficult to carry out attacks originating in the West Bank because of the security fence, and also because there are fewer Palestinians who are willing to support this (terror,)” he said.
The officer added Palestinian violence in that case would be confined to drive-by shootings in the west Bank as well as rocket fire.
Everyone is getting weaker, Hamas included
Meanwhile, everyone is dealing with what appears to be a dramatic surge in Hamas' strength against Fatah.
"The general trend within the Palestinian arena is that the entire system is losing power, Hamas included." The difference is that Hamas is more successful than Fatah at hiding its weaknesses," the official said.
"The Palestinian public does not believe terror pays. Hamas' forte is problematic - suicide bombings are considered obstructive to the Palestinian cause. This is one of the reasons Hamas found itself in a period of calm (with Israel)."
The official said Hamas is also suffering from financial difficulties.
"The monetary sources are being shut down due to American and European monitoring, and even the Saudis have imposed restrictions," he said.
"Hamas' military capabilities have weakened ahead of the calm, and IDF activities, such as the construction of the security fence, have slowed them down greatly."
According to the official, the terror organization's main problem pertains to its leadership, or lack thereof.
"From a state in which they had one undisputed leaders, they now have a number of politicians, and in this situation it is safe to say the targeted-killings-method has proven itself," he said.
However, recently it seemed Hamas is indeed gaining strength, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was forced to cancel the Rafah election results and postpone the general elections for fear its results.
"Hamas is in a precarious situation, because in light of its relative increase in strength the organization's victories in Rafah were annulled and Abbas decided to postpone the (general) elections until November apparently; until then every effort will be exerted to strengthen Abbas at Hamas' expense," the official said.
"This brought about a lot of frustration on their part, which was expressed through a few rounds of violence against Israel that the Palestinian public did not understand."