That’s pretty much the state to which I am reduced by current international happenings: It’s hard to take a good breath in the face of all that’s occurring.
My friend Jack, who reads my postings , had what I thought was an excellent suggestion:
"…for all those countries overly anxious to throw away their billions of dollars: Open several thousand accounts in banks in the Cayman Islands, line up all the names of every ‘Palestinian’ leader, assign him an account number and deposit a certain amount in accordance with his importance. Then send each of those people his number. It saves the donating countries of pretending to overlook how the funds are spent…"
This makes about as much sense as anything that’s transpiring right now. And I am grateful to him for lightening up (albeit with a vision that reflects reality) what is a dangerously insane situation.
Khaled Abu Toameh has an analysis in today’s Post — with the self-evident title "Influx of international funds no guarantee for bolstering moderates" — that takes a look at the situation that was generated in Paris yesterday. Beginning with a brief history of the incredible graft that occurred when Arafat was in charge, he makes observations that are of critical significance. In the early days of the PA the assumption was made that economic prosperity would boost moderates (sound familiar?). The international assistance, however, "went into secret bank accounts or to build big villas for senior PA officials. "
"The international community that was pouring money on the PA did not seem to care about the stories of financial corruption and embezzlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Nor did the donors pay attention to the fact that Arafat was inciting his people not only against Israel, but also against the same ‘infidels’ who were signing the checks."
And the question that has to be asked is, Why the hell not? What obtuseness, what political correctness or anti-Israel bias or feelings of misplaced guilt allowed several Western nations to keep pouring funds into an entity that was wasting and misusing them? And why, at the end of the day, is the international community willing to do precisely the same now? PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad has submitted a financial plan of sorts, but based on past performance of the PA, there is no reason to put faith in it. Abu Toameh writes that Fayyad is surrounded by many of those who in the past hindered reform schemes.
"This money is mainly designed to keep Fatah in power and prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank.
"And unless the PA changes its rhetoric and starts promoting peace and coexistence with Israel, the millions of dollars are not going to create a new generation of moderate Palestinians."
Needless to say, the reality of a PA that has begun to start "promoting peace and coexistence with Israel" is not emerging, in spite of the hoopla regarding Annapolis. In fact, according to today’s Post, Olmert is "dismayed" by Abbas’s failure to convey certain instructions to his negotiators. Seems that in private certain matters were discussed between Olmert and Abbas, but that Abbas has "not passed to his negotiating team the same pliable positions" he had expressed in discussion with Olmert.
So, the next question is, When the hell is Israel going to learn that there is no negotiating partner? What obtuseness permits our government to continue in its self-destructive behavior? The international community may lose billions of dollars — we have a great deal more at risk.
Olmert and Abbas had sat down several times and, according to this article, had put together a paper that was supposed to form the basis for negotiations. (A paper that was all too secret for my liking, but that’s another story.) But, while Abbas failed to follow through, Olmert instructed his team to try to wrap up an agreement as soon as possible.
I read this and I want to go out on the street and howl . As soon as possible? Without testing Palestinian intentions and viability? Without taking one step at a time, carefully? The reason given is because Olmert felt that this would show the Palestinian population that there is a reward for fighting terrorism.
So, the international community is seeking to buy moderation with money, and Olmert is doing the same with a state. Just as the international community doesn’t acknowledge that money has been showered on the PA before without resultant moderation, so have we offered the PA a state before (in 2000) without a modicum of success — the 2nd intifada being the result instead.
What makes this all more incredible is that according to an unnamed gov’t official, while Fayyad submitted an economic reform plan to the international community, Israel has not yet seen a security plan, and "he hoped Fayyad would present one. The main issue is security. If they build credible security forces, the whole process will change."
So the PA isn’t really even trying. But I have demonstrated time and again that Israel intelligence does not believe the PA remotely capable of putting together an uncorrupted, viable, effective security force.
The good news, such as it exists, is this : the gov’t is not caving on our right to continue to build inside of existing settlements, not just in Har Homa but in Judea and Samaria.
In fact, I almost fell over when I read this statement by a "senior Israeli official" cited in Haaretz: "We don’t need American approval if we are doing something that we think, as a sovereign state, we should do." Ah, that they would say this more often! "We told the Americans and the Palestinians that in those places, within the built-up line, Israel will continue to build, because there is no other way."
The Israeli position then is that there will likely be retention of major settlements and that in any event this is to be decided via negotiations. "If Har Homa will not be part of Israel, it doesn’t matter if Har Homa is 5,000 units or 6,000 units, Har Homa will be dismantled."
The official said that the Israeli understanding of a settlement freeze was not building new settlements or extending the borders of existing ones. "It doesn’t mean people cannot go and live in existing settlements. Where there are vacant places, vacant apartments, people can go and live there with their families. If somebody bought an empty lot in one of the settlements 10 years ago and he owns it, and he decides now in the year 2007…to build on it, the government of Israel cannot do anything about it."
But, true to form, Abbas declared again today that settlement expansion –presumably defined by him as including building inside existing lines — is a threat to peace talks. Since it represents "a real obstacle," it must stop.
And Minister Haim Ramom — who would do best to stop talking — added another dimension. Yes, he said, we will keep major settlements, but in exchange for land inside of Israel, and we should tell the Palestinians now which land we’ll be giving them. Is this official gov’t policy? Can’t be sure. But if it is, it returns us to the totally unacceptable notion that everything outside of the Green Line is actually Palestinian, so that we can retain part of that area only by giving something else.
The senior Israeli official said one other thing worthy
of note here: "Before Palestine will be established, Gaza will have to comply with the rules that exist in the first phase of the road map." That first phase of the road map requires dismantling of terrorist infrastructure.
First, this makes a mockery of Abbas’s demands : You’re telling us to comply, it says, but look how far away you are.
And then, if Israel refuses — really refuses — to allow formation of a state until that condition has been met in Gaza, we’re talking about something that’s in the far distant future only. The problem, as I’ve frequently indicated, is that establishing the parameters of a state in negotiations and then refusing to allow it to become a reality because terrorism hasn’t been dismantled 1) invites severe international pressure for us to continue regardless, and 2) raises Palestinian expectations so that when they see the state is not forthcoming they will resort to violence, which is typical of how they function. This means that this scenario may actually increase terrorism rather than motivating its elimination.
The Berkley Electronic Press has published an important paper by Claude Berrebi called "Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy," which reports on research regarding the relationship between Palestinian terrorist activity, and education and standard of living. What it does, actually, is put the lie decisively to a very common myth: that terrorists are poor and uneducated.
What the study found, first, was that 31% of the Palestinians, compared to only 16 % of the terrorists, were characterized as poor. Second, 96% of terrorists have at least a high school education and 65% have some kind of higher education, compared to 51% and 15%, respectively, in the Palestinian population of same age, sex and religion.
Terrorists are more likely to be from urban areas — 54% — compared to Palestinians in general — 34%, and terrorists are more likely to live in Gaza. Among the terrorists, 94% had some sort of employment, while among Palestinians generally, only 69% have employment.
Terrorists are younger than the general population — 94% below the age of 34 as compared to 72%. And terrorists are less likely to be married.
While Israel is not doing a major ground incursion into Gaza, the IDF is stepping up its activity. Last night and early this morning there were a series of actions that killed 10 Islamic Jihad operatives. The first air strike killed Islamic Jihad commander Majed Harazin, who was in charge of rocket squads, along with two others. In the second strike, Karim al-Dahdouh, a master rocket maker was eliminated when his car was hit. By this morning, Tarek Abu-Ra’ali, senior IJ commander in Jenin was apparently also killed.
Said Olmert today: "We will continue to search for the terrorist leaders. Everybody who is responsible for the Kassam rocket fire against the Gaza periphery and Sderot – we will get to them. The terrorist organizations are feeling that…"
Needless to say, Islamic Jihad is vowing revenge — "a wave of martyrdom operations."
Today two Hamas operatives were also killed.
As good as the elimination of Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists is, Moshe Arens, writing in Haaretz today, lambastes the Israeli government for not doing that major operation. He takes apart the "lame excuses" and the "inane slogans."
"…the only way to stop the rockets from coming down on the heads of the population living near the Gaza Strip is for the IDF to move in and move the rockets out of range." Indeed.
He then challenges a lie of the government , that: "even when the IDF was in Gaza, Kassam rockets were raining down on Israel." What the gov’t neglects to mention, when stating this is that "the IDF left most of the Gaza Strip in the wake of the Oslo agreements, almost 15 years ago, and that from the limited areas in which the IDF was present prior to the disengagement, no rockets were fired against Israel. There is no reason to expect that rockets will be launched from areas which the IDF controls." This is a fact of considerable significance.
"What’s more, the launching of rockets against Israel has increased drastically since the disengagement."
Arens, who has served over the years in various Israeli governments as ambassador to the US, foreign minister and defense minister, and is today Chairman of the International Board of Governors of Ariel University in Samaria, minces no words. How refreshing it is.
As you may recall, I reported just days ago that the terrorists who murdered Israeli Ido Zoldan were members of the PA security forces. Now it has been revealed that they used weapons that had been permitted by Israel to be brought in from Jordan to "bolster" the PA security forces. Since Hamas took over Gaza, Israel has allowed several shipments of Kalashnikov rifles and bullets to move into Palestinians areas of Judea and Samaria from Jordan.
Precisely how sick and stupid do things have to get before a halt is called?
Sources connected to the Winograd Committee , which is due to release final conclusions with regard to how the war with Lebanon was fought last year, now say that final report will be delayed for "technical reasons."
Give me a break! It was supposed to come out in December, now it is expected in mid-January. The "technical reasons" are undoubtedly the arrival here of President Bush and a desire to not weaken or embarrass Olmert at this time.