Today is the day that Jimmy Carter –in defiance of requests from several quarters that he not do so– is going to be meeting with officials from Hamas. To achieve peace, he maintains, it is necessary to speak with all sides.
The response to this from the Daily Star of Lebanon (of all places) is on the mark: "To many engagers the problem is mainly one of communication. If only everyone could just sit around a table and talk, things would work out. You can almost hear Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal gasping at the naiveté of such sweeping positivism, as he prepares to score points off his solemn American visitor."
Indeed. Carter is conferring legitimacy on a terrorist organization. And while he deludes himself that he can talk them into doing this or that, he serves, wittingly or unwittingly, as their "patsy."
There is a signal lesson here, for certain. For many on the left believe that by and large matters can be worked out if only everyone talks. But this is simply not the case. Carter has set back the already very tenuous efforts for peace in the Middle East. Evil is evil, and sometimes this must be recognized.
Matters with Gaza are heating up again. What commentators are observing is that there is a new Hamas tactic, with squirmishes at the border rather than depending exclusively on the launching of rockets (although they are still launched as well). Hamas finds there is a better opportunity to kill Israelis this way: two were killed at Nahal Oz last week and three in the battle this week. Today the IDF foiled attempts by Hamas terrorists at Keren Shalom to enter Israel.
Certain aspects of this change in behavior are particularly notable. One, that Hamas is taking its cue more and more from Hezbollah and acting like an organized military rather than a rag-tag group of guerillas.
Second is the opportunity for changing tactics and reorganizing which they availed themselves of. After the major operation about a month ago, there was a lull which was thought to be indicative of Israeli deterrence generated by the operation. If you remember, there was talk at that time about a ceasefire of sorts being arranged off the record.
Well, it was during that lull that they regrouped — and this fact is of signal importance. Any "ceasefire" or "hudna" will give them a chance to strengthen themselves and ultimately only serve to our detriment. And whatever deterrence power we had seems to be lost with their new tactics.
This is being to dawn on more of our decision makers , who realize that the current situation cannot continue. And so, there is talk again about a major operation — similar to Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria in 2002. This would take place only after Bush visits in May. The goal would be to clean out Gaza and take down Hamas.
However… there is still concern about an "exit strategy," which means there is not yet the recognition that we may have to maintain a presence for some time to come (indefinitely as far as I’m concerned). The reason Defensive Shield has had long term positive effects for us is because once we went back into areas that had been turned over to the PA, we retained the right to continue to run operations there to control the terrorist infrastructure.
What is being discussed is turning over Gaza to a third party. Bringing in the UN or the EU would be a disaster in a host of ways, but is not likely to happen, as none of these parties is exactly eager to be involved. The alternative is allowing Egypt to come in. Egypt, which is threatened by the radical Hamas at its border, has a vested interest. The problem is one of Egyptian long-term stability and intentions towards Israel. What happens if there’s a change of regime and the Egyptians then seek to move from Gaza east into Israel within the Green Line?
Many may have forgotten, but Gush Katif was established in southern Gaza as a way to block movement of troops from Egypt up into Gaza, as this is the traditional way that enemy troops have entered the area.
Yesterday I wrote about awards that Abbas was going to confer on two terrorists in our prisons. He has cancelled the plans to do this. And no other conclusion is possible other than that his growing awareness that this caused a furor and was not going to play well made him think twice.
According to a survey just done by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, Nasrallah is the best loved leader in the Arab world, followed by Assad of Syrian. Says it all, I think.
In another survey, done by the Gaza-based Institute of Development Studies, 44% of the residents of Gaza definitely want to leave, and 80% are thinking about it. Who can blame them? A smart policy would be to help them immigrate elsewhere.
In a televised speech today to mark "Prisoners’ Day," Abbas said there can be no peace deal with Israel unless all 8,500 prisoners are released. This is one of those things I hope he really means, because even Olmert cannot/would not do this.
There is talk, still in its very early stages and facing several hurdles, of a merger between Kadima and Labor. The rationale for this is simple: neither party by itself, according to the polls, would top Likud. Merged into one new super-party, they very well might.
And so, there is also talk, also in very early stages , of a merger of Yisrael Beitenu with Likud, which would counter that.