A correction: When I wrote about the US case against Kadish recently, I indicated that we had friends in Congress, the Pentagon and other places in the US, but that we also had enemies, in State, the Intelligence community, and the Justice department. I had secured my information from what I thought were reliable sources. Now I have heard from Sarah Stern, who heads the lobby group Emet, in Washington DC. She tells me that we have some very good friends in Justice, and that she has personally worked with some of them. I stand corrected and apologize.
I wrote last about the proposed ceasefire (technically a hudna) for Gaza and indicated that since Hamas political head Mashaal had referred to it, with honesty, as a "tactic" this clearly wasn’t going anywhere. A hudna buys them time to strengthen before they hit us again.
Well…that was a foolish assumption on my part , altogether too rational. The news that broke yesterday was that Bush wanted to see us go for that hudna, with it in place before he arrived here in two weeks. There was some notion that this would help the "peace process." And, obviously, helping the peace process is all that really matters.
Some of you already know how infuriated this made me — this meddling by Bush into our security affairs.
I still suspect that in the end this may go nowhere (and I’ll explain a bit about why), but there are now several factors that it’s worth examining.
The "inspired" notion of Bush, or his advisors, is that Abbas feels constrained with regard to dealing with Israel when Israel is shooting at Palestinians in Gaza — terrorist Palestinians, but for Abbas that is beside the point. It makes him look as if he’s consorting with the enemy. And so stopping the shooting would presumably make it possible for Abbas to negotiate more freely.
Abbas is giving good lip service to this idea of a truce . After meeting with Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh, he intoned, "The truce is a national interest of all Palestinians. A truce will alleviate the suffering of our people and pave the way for the reopening of the border crossings."
However, reports Khaled Abu Toameh in the Post, the PA is actually quite anxious about this, because it would be a step towards legitimizing Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, something Abbas is trying mightily to reverse. At a minimum, Abbas is insisting that the PA must be present at all opened border crossings, but if the crossings are opened in a deal between Israel and Hamas as part of a truce, exactly where does that leave the PA?
An analysis in Haaretz carried this theme even further , saying that a truce that opened the crossings would render the PA almost irrelevant. According to this thinking, people would get the message that concessions are more likely to be drawn from Israel when there is shooting than when there are negotiations.
It is truly ironic, and not at all surprising, that the US government, meddling in Middle Eastern affairs in an attempt to make things better, might, from their perspective, end up making them worse. Were they to push that truce down our throats, in an effort to strengthen Abbas, they might actually make him weaker.
Egypt, still working towards that hudna, has invited four terrorist factions to Cairo for meetings in an attempt to convince them to cooperate: Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) .
The serious question as to whether they will all be on board is a major factor getting in the way of what Egypt is attempting to accomplish. At a minimum, these groups are seeking commitments by Israel not to do any operations in Gaza, and to extend the truce to Judea and Samaria within six months.
Problematic, to say the least.
Then there is the issue of Egypt’s commitment to blocking the smuggling of weapons into Gaza.
Head of the IDF Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant is fiercely opposed to a ceasefire, in part because he’s convinced smuggling would increase.
He’s also concerned about strengthening of the terrorist infrastructure inside of Gaza.
Today 15 Kassams and 20 mortars were fired at Israel. A home and a clinic were hit, and five people in Sderot were lightly wounded.
Said Defense Minister Ehud Barak: "This is not the right time for a ceasefire with Hamas."
The comment of Hamas’s Mahmoud Zahar, speaking today at Islamic University in Gaza, was that, "If Israel says no, it will pay a heavy price. We are a besieged people and we will have to use all our tools to defend ourselves against Israel…Hamas has 200,000 people who want to blow themselves up inside of Israel."
And, indeed, we may be in for some tough times.
Head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Cabinet today that terror groups are planning a major attack for our 60th Independence Day, next week.
While Hamas may be planning to breach the border between Gaza and Israel, as they did at Rafah not long ago. They would likely aim towards Israel this time because Egypt has gotten very serious about its response to a new attempt to break through at Rafah. And when the Egyptians get serious, they shoot to kill.
According to a new report from YNet, a serious blowout has erupted between Israel’s chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, and the PA chief negotiator, Ahmed Qurei. Qurei reportedly exploded when Livni presented a map that showed Israel retaining Jerusalem, major settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, and the Jordan Valley (essential from a security perspective).
In addition, Qurei is said to be furious because Barak has indicated that there would have to be special security arrangements at a high point in Samaria that directly overlooks the airport.
If this report is accurate, and if the quarrel is even half-way serious, then Bush can forget trying to push Israel into a truce in order to get the PA to negotiate faster. I’m waiting for confirmation.
It’s very good news being reported by the Post regarding sanctions with teeth against Iran. Apparently the EU is set to blacklist one of Iran’s top banks — a bank through which Iran conducts considerable business.