Isreali withdrawal may trigger more violence

The Israeli withdrawal from its West Bank settlements has been heralded as a major step in the peace process, but it may only be the beginning of more violence.

The pullout will not be a complete one, as it will leave about 230,000 Israelis in three settlement blocks that Israel has said it will never give up. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered construction of more homes within that block and will continue to expand the barrier wall.

The withdrawal continues to be plagued with violence. On Wednesday, Palestinian militants stormed the offices of the Palestinian public security commander and drug him out into the street where they shot and killed him.

Israel has continued to call on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to rein in extremists as their part of the bargain.

Most troubling is that the terrorist group Hamas has said that the pullout is a direct result of their violence and proves that it produces results.

This pullout is crucial to the future of these two nations. Once again, peace may be within grasp, but, as always, so is the potential for escalated violence.

Sharon continues to send confused signals by giving one day and taking another. Abbas has yet to deliver on the promise to disarm militants that he made when he came into office.

Abbas must gain control of his people and nation if he ever hopes to open a dialogue with Israel, and Israelis must appoint a leader with the ability to compromise and less of a military background.