Avi Dichter, Minister of Public Security , today said on Army Radio that Egypt’s failure to stop the flow of weapons into Gaza is tantamount to support for Hamas.
"Any rational person – Israel or Palestinian – who witnesses the Egyptians’ failure to act against arms smuggling can see that it is in their interest to strengthen Hamas."
Well, good morning!
Good to see a bit of honesty in this regard. For too long Egypt as a "moderate" state has been part of the prevailing myth here. There have been voices speaking out — most notably Yuval Steinitz, who constantly declares that Egypt is not to be trusted — but they have not been given the credence they deserve.
When Condoleezza Rice shoved the Rafah agreement down our throats after the "disengagement," Steinitz warned that this was trouble because Egypt wouldn’t carry its weight in the deal once we stopped monitoring the border: Egypt was supposed to stop smuggling of weapons into Gaza from its side of the Egypt-Gaza border. To that end, 750 Egyptian forces were permitted along the Philadelphi Route in what had been a demilitarized zone according to our peace treaty with Egypt.
Now we begin to face the obvious: that it was for naught, an exercise in foolishness at best. If they wanted to stop the smuggling they could (Dichter says their intelligence is as good as ours in this area), and, in fact, they have slowed down efforts, which, Israeli officials say, is a major reason why Hamas has been able to bring in so much in the way of weapons and explosives.
I had mentioned recently reports that Ne tanyahu was talking to Lieberman about running on a joint list in the next election. That may have seemed a good idea to Netanyahu, but as it turns out Lieberman was less than enthusiastic about it. There are ideological differences between the parties, he says, that would make joining forces impossible.
Olmert and Abbas are due to meet again tomorrow , in Jerusalem. As Olmert persists in his dangerous and foolish policy built on air, what is there for me to say here? Comments after the meeting.
According to the London-based paper, Asharq Al-Awsat, cited today in Haaretz, Israeli Arabs are attempting to mediate between Fatah and Hamas. The Israeli Arabs mentioned are with the Islamic Movement in Israel — as its name implies, a radical group that regularly foments anti-Israel sentiment; the irony is that its members are Israeli citizens.
Hamas is said to be considering initiatives that propose turning back security compounds and civil institutions in Gaza to Fatah, as a necessary precursor to reestablishing relations with Fatah.
Defense Minister Barak, appearing for the first time since he took office before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that there are signs of tensions with Syria fading.
But MK Effi Eitam (NU) warned — with considerable justification — that we shouldn’t be taken in by the calm.
For Barak also testified that Hezbollah has more weapons now than it did before the war last summer.
So what does it mean that Syria is "quiet" if it is sending weapons to Hezbollah at an accelerated rate? That weapons build-up is by way of preparations for renewed conflict.
Our preparations for conflict, according to Barak , include: an active anti-rocket and missile system; an improvement in the IDF’s maneuvering ability; an increase in the army’s stamina regarding inventory and provisions; an increase in the number of training exercises using live ammunition; and the military’s "long arm" – its ability to operate deep within enemy territory.
There is no doubt but that we will be in better shape when war comes again than we were last time. Whether these preparations are sufficient I am not able to say. What I do know is that the readiness to operate deep within enemy territory — which was lacking last summer — is critically important.
As to Gaza, Barak indicated that he will give the IDF free reign to do preventative strikes. This too is an improvement over what was happening before, but still falls short of the major operation in Gaza that would require the approval of the political echelon.
Hizb ut-Tahrir ("party of freedom"), an Islamist organization in Judea and Samaria, is currently recruiting thousands of people who have become disillusioned with both Hamas and Fatah. This group was originally founded in the 50s, but was dormant for some time; it has revived in recent years with a shift in the political situation. Dedicated to fostering loyalty to Islam and to the re-establishment of the Caliphate — a unified religious state in the Muslim world if not beyond — it advances an ideology that calls for the overthrow of Arab governments and the elimination of Israel, in order to prepare for that caliphate. Banned in many countries, it has (wouldn’t you know it!) a strong and active presence in Britain.
Israeli intelligence considers the group a cause for genuine concern. Col. Eitan Azani, deputy director of the Institute of Counter-Terrorism, says. "This is the factory that produces, at the end of the day, the jihadis that operate in global terrorism."
Yesterday I wrote about a conference under the auspices of the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which is about to be held in Brussels and which echoes Durban. It is not, I indicated, the only cause for concern.
Let me here return to Durban and preparations under way for a Durban II conference to be held in 2009. It is a follow up to the horrendous conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. A week long series of planning meetings has now begun in Geneva to set the agenda for that 2009 conference, which is being dubbed an "anti-racism" conference. The meetings are chaired by Libya; the committee of 20 nations participating includes Cuba and Iran.
Is it necessary to say more? Guess who they’re going to decide the "racist" is?
The governments of both Israel and the US are sending only low-level observers; activities at the conference will be carefully monitored.