You’ll find no enormous credence given in these postings to what the Palestinians have to say; frequently their statements are best reviewed with a jaundiced eye. But every now and then what they say makes sense, even if their positions are antithetical to ours.
What do you mean, negotiate on Jerusalem last? PA leaders asked late last week. We’re discussing core issues. One of those issues is borders. How can we finalize borders without discussing what part of Jerusalem we’ll have? And another issue is settlements. For us, Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Gilo and Ramot are settlements. How can we not also discuss these?
And you know what? It’s difficult to argue with this. Everything has to be on the table at once (or, preferably, nothing, but that’s another story).
The point here is simply that in spite of this argument, Shas continues to pretend that Olmert is straight with them when he says Jerusalem is not being discussed. That, my friends, is the charade.
According to YNet, a Gaza ground operation is in the works. It has not yet been put into action as preparations are not complete.
Details are being kept quiet in order to ensure maximum surprise. But this time the goals have been clearly defined.
The short term, tactical goals are:
— Speedy facilitation of intelligence-gathering capacity (which will make everything else possible).
— A drastic reduction in firing of Kassams and mortars, achieved quickly.
— Destruction of military infrastructure , arsenals and weapons manufacturing sites belong to all the terrorists groups.
— Blocking of smuggling at the Philadelphi Corridor.
— Avoiding a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinian civilian population.
All of this will take time, will be painful, and is very necessary.
According to this report, the strategic objectives are:
— Removing Hamas from power and establishing a stable Palestinian regime with international assistance.
— Demilitarizing Gaza for a period of time.
— Achieving effective Israeli security and monitoring for years to come.
It’s the first strategic objective , if it is being accurately reported, that I have problems with. First, because we should do this to benefit our security situation and NOT for the sake of Mahmoud Abbas. This would be short-sighted objective that is not in our best interest.
And then, it is still, in my opinion , pie-in-the-sky to imagine there can be a "stable Palestinian regime." It’s time to get real. This operation is frequently compared to Operation Defensive Shield of 2002, in which we went into Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria after horrendous terror attacks. But it has been a great success only because we’ve retained a presence in these areas for the last six years and do regular operations there. Had we pulled out, there would have been chaos. Remember? Abbas is afraid to leave Ramallah. Who is going to constitute that "stable regime" in Gaza? (There is talk of Europeans doing it but this would be a real disaster, and, I do not believe will ever happen.)
On Friday, 14 gunmen blew up the library in a YMCA in Gaza. This is the latest in a series of attacks on Christians. Thousands of books were burnt in the ensuing fire.
American citizens who were victims of PA terror, or who lost family to PA terror, and have been awarded monetary payments by US courts, went to Washington last week to meet with officials of the State Department and Justice Department. But apparently they did not come away convinced that what they said would ultimately make a difference.
One of those who went was Shayna Elliot , who was shot in the chest while waiting for a bus on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem in 2002. She lost a lung and is in constant pain. "It’s obscene that they would get in involved in our case," she said. "It’s obscene that they could be against the terror victims."
Before the visit, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack gave a statement for reporters: "We are absolutely committed to defending the rights of our citizens. We are also fully committed to pursuing our national interest and defending our national interest. At this point, I don’t have anything to offer in terms of a decision one way or another on this particular issue."
What does it say when the "national interest" and the "rights of citizens" are in conflict? The US government has until February 29th to decide whether to get involved.
Aides of Mahmoud Abbas are charging in strong terms that Mohammad Dahlan is trying to oust him as head of Fatah. The attack on Dahlan was approved by Abbas, who is feeling threatened by the young guard, headed by Dahlan. There is much argument as to who was responsible for the failure to defeat Hamas in Gaza: Abbas, as President, or Dahlan, as former head of Fatah security in Gaza.
From my perspective, the in-fighting provides a bit of diversion. There are no good guys here, you see; there is no one to root for. The young guard is absolutely right when they complain that they’ve been frozen out by the old guard, which has not mended its ways. Abbas and company are knee-deep in issues of corruption and incompetence. You get a bit of the picture when you learn that the last time Fatah held a General Conference to elect new central committee and revolutionary council members was in Tunisia in 1987. (There’s talk of holding such a conference now.)
But Dahlan? They don’t come any lower than this man, and I never miss the opportunity to remind people of this. Corruption is not the only issue. There is also terrorism, and this the young guard is not adverse to. Never mind that Dahlan was directly involved in the Karine-A weapons ship. The other day I wrote about the Cohen family, whose three children collectively lost four limbs in a school bus bombing. It was Dahlan who ordered that school bus to be bombed.
Speaking of young children who have lost limbs, doctors now feel that Osher Twito’s remaining leg is no longer at risk. Osher had been maintained in a coma, but has now been allowed to regain consciousness; he is on very heavy painkillers. While breathing on his own, he has not yet spoken. He has not yet been told that he has lost a leg.
Egypt is in the process of building a new wall along the Egypt-Gaza border that will be made of concrete and reinforced to withstand the sort of explosions that brought down the previous wall made of metal and barbed wire. Hamas is threatening to shoot at anyone building the wall unless Rafah is opened. They have already shot over the heads of Egyptian workers.
A Hamas delegation led by Mahmoud Zahar went into Egypt, to El Arish, reportedly at Egyptian request, on Friday, to discuss the Rafah opening. The Egyptians were responding to reports that Hamas was planning to forcibly open the border again at the end of the month. The message to be given to Hamas: Our period of self-restraint is over; our guards have orders to shoot.
This does not mean, however, that a mechanism for allowing crossings of persons and goods will not be negotiated in the end between Egypt and Hamas.
Caroline Glick, in her Friday column , writes about the strong possibility that Mughniyeh was killed not for what he had already done but rather for what he was about to do.
"On January 30, French security services raided a Paris apartment and arrested six Arab men. Three of the men – two Lebanese and one Syrian – were traveling on diplomatic passports. According to the Italian Libero newspaper, the six were members of a Hezbollah cell. Documents seized included tourist maps of Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin and Rome marked up with red highlighter to indicate routes, addresses, parking lots and "truck stopping points." The maps pointed to several routes to Vatican back entrances.
Libero ‘s report explained that the "truck stopping points" aligned with information the French had received the week before from Beirut. There, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had convened a conference of his senior terror leaders where he ordered them to activate Hezbollah cells throughout Europe to kidnap senior European leaders.
"…All of the feared terror attacks against French and European targets have the classic earmarkings of Hezbollah operations chief and Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer Imad Mughniyeh. Mughniyeh was the pioneer of embassy bombings and high-profile kidnappings."
The Sunday Times (London) had a different take today, but also focused on what he was going to do: It alleges, according to "informed Israeli sources," that the Mossad took out Mughniyeh because he was working with the Syrians to plan an attack against Israel to avenge the IAF strike on a Syrian site in September 2007.
The connection Mughniyeh had with Iran, and the degree to which he operated at the behest of the Iranian regime, brings us around to focus on the Iranian nuclear issue. This is not something that we can ever afford to lose sight of. Less than two weeks ago, head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, delivering an assessment to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, declared that Iran would have nuclear weapons within three years and remained Israel’s chief strategic threat.
According to Dagan , the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) made it harder to impose sanctions on Iran. It "pulls the rug out from under" diplomatic efforts,"leaving Israel to face the threat alone."
But just about a week after Dagan’s report , Vice Admiral (USN Retired) Michael McConnell, United States Director of National Intelligence, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, backtracked on the NIE for which he had been responsible: "I think I would change the way that we described [the Iranian] nuclear program."
What he now says is that the weapon program that the NIE judged "with high confidence" was halted in 2003, really constitutes "the least significant portion" of a nuclear weapons program. For uranium enrichment is continuing apace.
Damn him, is all I can say. The damage that has been done is enormous.
Please, see Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz on this, "What We Meant to Say Was…" It is critically important.
Meanwhile, last week Sami Alfaraj, president of the Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies, said that Persian Gulf States believe that Israel will strike Iran rather than permit it to become nuclear. He maintains that states in the region will not become nuclear themselves, but will instead rely on a "nuclear umbrella" – even if it meant appealing to Israel.
"I believe in something on the same Iraqi [Osirak reactor] model… We are assuming in the Gulf that Israel will take it out."