Abu Mazen sounded optimistic to state that a truce can be agreed upon in three weeks. While most of the Palestinian groups that are engaged in armed struggle against Israel are worried that the truce might be the first step in a plan aimed at cracking down on the infrastructure of their military wings, all are giving positive signs, showing their willingness to engage in negotiations with the newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minster.

The statements from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders reflect concerns both about the road map being a trap designed to end the Palestinian resistance without physical and political gains, and about the negative effect a negative response might have on Palestinian internal unity. For now it looks like they are trying to choose the path least dangerous to their cause. Whatever the case, it is evident that these negotiations will be hard and lengthy. The time frame set by Abu Mazen might prove to be unrealistic.

On the other hand, the Israeli government has not yet accepted the idea of a time limited truce as the starting point in easing the security conditions. It is expected that Israeli demands, their actions, and the pressure they apply can easily damage the slim chances that Abu Mazen stands to arrive at a truce.

How much Abu Mazen can be squeezed from both sides will determine how successful he will be in starting the first real effort in his drive along what will be the dangerous curves of the road map.

The Israeli demands are far from realistic. A crack down on the infrastructure of militant groups can set Palestinians on a perilous road towards civil war. With the current status of Abu Mazen’s security forces, even if he decides to take this (dangerous) route, there are little chances for him to succeed. Instead it could plunge the region into chaos, hurting many, including Israel.

The demand for Abu Mazen to reject the road map comes from some Palestinian opposition groups but appears to be a soft opposition. It is an opposition with the readiness to negotiate. It presents itself more to cast concerns than to totally reject the deal. The statement of Dr. Alzahar, one of the prominent leaders of Hamas, expressing a readiness of Hamas to stop attacks against civilians inside Israel in exchange for a similar readiness from Israel to stop attacks on Palestinians, can be looked upon as a starting point in lengthy and hard negotiations.

The many previous agreements were buried by both the escalation of militant attacks on the part of the Palestinian resistance groups and by the same escalation of Israeli military attacks on the part of the Israeli army. The demand from the Palestinian opposition groups to continue with negotiations without a ceasefire and that of Israel to attempt to throw Palestinians into an internal fight are both unrealistic and highly destructive.

To give the road map a chance, a time limited truce is a must.