Yesterday, in spite of some tough words by top officials, there was a slight hedging by Olmert with regard to the new PA unity gov’t. Just enough to make one nervous. And sure enough. Today Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that if the new PA gov’t were to free Shalit, Israel would have to reconsider its position.
Come on! We want Shalit back, yes! Most certainly yes. But not at any price. And giving credibility to a terrorist government that won’t recognize Israel (which would encourage others to follow suit) is far too high a price.
As to that three way summit with Abbas and Rice — the one Olmert said he might not attend if Abbas became a party to a gov’t that doesn’t recognize Israel. Well, Abbas has become a party to such a gov’t, but Olmert decided — in spite of the advice of several key aides — it’s "important for Israel’s diplomatic future" that he attend.
The man makes me sick. Members of Likud at the meeting — Netanyahu, Steinitz, et al — were none too pleased with the prime minister either.
So far, the EU shows no signs of recognizing the PA unity government. This is encouraging. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels today.
Actually, for all the talk of the new unity government, it does not exist yet — merely the agreement to form it does. The current government must resign, which it is expected will happen within days, and a new one established in its place.
Perhaps most telling is the anxiety expressed by members of Fatah that Hamas will sabotage arrangements by rushing to clarify what was agreed upon. Fatah, relying upon vague statements, hopes still to lend an impression of some moderation: Well, Hamas didn’t quite say it would recognize Israel, but acknowledging the existence of previous agreements is almost the same thing. And Abbas has been quick to say he would be the one doing negotiations. But Hamas isn’t having it. Be sure, their representatives are continuing to say, we will never recognize Israel or foreswear our fight against the occupation (i.e., terrorism).
Writing in YNet today, journalist Ronnie Shaked said, "Expressions of unity and joy and an end to the street battles are expected in the Palestinian street in the coming days. But one must not be mistaken. The ideological differences have remained deep and wide as they were, and it is only a question of time before the clashes erupt once again."
Jerusalem mayor Uri Lubrianski has announced that, while the work on the bridge to the Mughrabi Gate will proceed, there is going to be a change in procedures that will ultimately slow the process down (the exploratory excavations will continue, but the construction might start later than had been anticipated ). The new procedures will provide for greater transparency, with all plans made public so that it is absolutely clear that the Temple Mount (and the Al Aksa Mosque) will not be touched. And there will be a process by which people can protest.
The mayor is not caving to Arab threats. His thought is that once the fact that we are not endangering the Mount is made clear, the protest will diminish. Yesterday Security Minister Avi Dichter said that many of the Arabs involved in protest with regard to the construction really don’t know what’s going on. Additionally, it is thought that if Arabs have a channel for registering protest, there is less likely to be violence.
I myself am not optimistic, for I am not convinced that confusion about what Israel is doing is at the heart of the matter. Rather, I believe that this is merely a device for hitting Israel — challenging her sovereignty and weakening her control. The goal is securing of all of east Jerusalem, which includes the entire Old City — the Temple Mount, the Jewish Quarter, the area in which the bridge is being re-constructed and all.
Elyakim Haetzni addressed this situation with his description of Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, who "stood there at the excavation site – expressly outside the Temple Mount compound, far from the mosques – and shamelessly announced: ‘This is a crime. Israel is destroying part of the al-Aqsa Mosque.’"
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/2/12/posted-february-12-2007.html