There are many reasons why the Palestinian Authority is able to take steps that will lead to the end of the current discussions taking place between Israel and the PA.
The Proper Israeli Response
Israel's policy to respond immediately to any violation of the calm in the South or the North is most appropriate. Too bad that for so many years Israel restrained herself by mistakenly thinking that restraint is also a policy.
Any alternatives for the repeated violations of calm holds advantages and disadvantages, and certainly dangers. An immediate response is the least bad comparing to other alternatives as will be explained below.
The fundamental premise must be that Israel has no realistic option to keep its army on alert throughout the year. The best means, though not perfect, is deterrence. The meaning of deterrence is that the enemy understands well that action initiated by it may lead, for its point of view, to a harsh response from Israel its price will be much greater than the benefit it will achieve through their deliberate action. It is no secret that in Gaza and also in Judea and Samaria they clearly understand that at present it is not worth it to open a military or political front against Israel.
The reasons are quite clear. Abbas-Abu-Mazen, with all the criticism and even his helplessness cannot break the rules as long as there are talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the auspices of the U.S. Abu Mazen and his team fully understand that they should not be seen as being the ones to have violated the calm, caused the escalation and a harsh Israeli response that will lead to stopping the talks. It is a wise decision and of no surprise.
Hamas between Israel and Egypt
The situation in Gaza is very bad. Hamas understands well that it is between the rock and the hard place between Israel and Egypt both conducting a strong war against them. Hamas is surrounded, at least in the near future, in an unfriendly circle, to say the least, and any help from outside the Strip is of an illusion. It is likely that Hamas understands this very well. The problem is that the rational explanation above may crash as soon as Hamas decides to break the rules, to escalate attacks, to absorb blows and raise favorable public opinion for them that will bring about the lifting of the suffocating ring around the Strip. Though this alternative must be considered Israel must not hold back and restraint because restraint will bring about much more serious results, for example, another war in Gaza. So long that Israel keeps the calm, does not initiate large-scale operations in Gaza, or in Judea and Samaria, the legitimacy of an immediate harsh response will grow stronger.
There are many reasons why the Palestinian Authority is able to take steps that will lead to the end of the talks that are taking place now. Israel must be very careful regarding the aspects of these talks so that an image is not created that Israel is opposed to peace. Israel must also not be drawn into provocations that are likely to arise during these talks. On the other hand, Israel must not return to the period in which a response to rockets fired on Israel or attacks was late to come and thus ineffective.
After making all these claims, the official Israel must understand that no response or military move of some sort will bring about absolute calm. Only by political processes peace will be achieved. Unfortunately, as on the Arab-Palestinian side there are many who are trying to thwart the success of the talks, if it is at all possible to speak of success, on the Israeli side there is no shortage of them. Precisely those Israeli politicians who oppose any political process are advocating a military operations only. This is a mistake and a folly. There is no military solution only to a national problem and a national struggle.
Those who think this way have no idea what they are talking about. It is very important that the negotiations with the Arab-Palestinians will continue even if the chances to resolve all issues are fairly small. In the past they argued and we go back and claim again: not in Israel and not among the Arab-Palestinians there is a political infrastructure on which one can base a final settlement for many years. Nevertheless, one must allow the political process to continue.
Israel should make it perfectly clear that continuing with the political process will not prevent Israel to react severely to any breach of the calm. Anyone who really wants that the talks between Israel and the Arab-Palestinians will be conducted in a comfortable atmosphere, without the use of such infantile military pressure, must make sure there is calm. This is the task of leadership that sees itself responsible one.