After on-again, off-again scheduled meetings, PA president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal finally met in Damascus last night, with the Syrians playing peacemaker between the factions.
This meeting is ostensibly to lead to a unity government, although it has been conceded that a political platform has yet to be formulated.
According to Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri, the key issue is Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel: "Abbas wants us to recognize the Zionist entity, but we swear that even if we are all killed, we will never change our ideology."
Now…in the unlikely event that a unity gov’t really is formed, whom do you imagine it will be that has caved? (Hint: It isn’t Mashaal.) There would be some fancy footwork, some language that skirts the issue, and Hamas would be allowed to avoid actually recognizing Israel. At every juncture until now, it has been Abbas who has caved; he will not take on Hamas.
The lesson here: A unity gov’t would not bring with it moderation, only the pretense of such. I see it as dangerous because the world is all too eager to accept the pretense as reality.
Mashaal and Abbas are now saying that they will be working on formation of that unity gov’t over the course of the next two weeks. They concurred that the PLO should be strengthened (which leads to the supposition that Hamas, which has been invited by Abbas, the PLO head, to officially join, will do so). And they are agreed that a Palestinian state with temporary borders is to be totally rejected.
A high ranking IDF official has told The Jerusalem Post that the political echelon has "tied the IDF’s hands" and is preventing military operations to stop Hezbollah from rearming. This is hardly the first time that our particularly inept political echelon has stood in the way of what the military believes must be done; what I am observing, however, is an increased tendency for the military to go public with this. The frustration must be incredible. The officer described the almost daily shipments of arms coming to Hezbollah from Syria (this is the Syria that wants peace, please remember). However, said he, "This is not up to the IDF. The government is responsible for making these decisions and for now they are holding us back."
According to Director of IDF Strategic Planning, Brig.-Gen. Udi Dekel, the cabinet and the IDF are facing the "constant dilemma" of whether to attempt to thwart arms build-up or to prepare for a new war instead. Now, I’m not an army strategic planner, and it may be that I’m missing something of enormous significance, but it eludes me as to how we could even consider opting to prepare for war and sit and wait for it to happen, rather than pre-empting and taking out enemy weapons now. The decision to do this would most assuredly be political.
One can only hope and pray that the current political echelon charged with making these decisions is on its way out in the very near future.
The prestigious Herzliya Conference is currently running. The most promising thing coming out of the Conference that I’ve heard yet is a statement by US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, who said yesterday that "We have to confront Iran." He added that while the US did not seek a confrontation with Iran, it was clear that Iran had a radical agenda and played a negative role in all the recent Middle East conflicts, and so "no options were off the table."
This follows the news last week of a second US aircraft carrier to be deployed to the Middle East.
The urgent need to confront Iran before it is too late was highlighted by other speakers at the Conference.
Bernard Lewis, historian and Islamic expert, sounded a warning that could hardly have been more dire: “I have been told by Iranian friends that Ahmadinejad is indeed crazy, but not stupid. He really believes in the end of days that he is heralding. There is a widespread belief among Shiites that the time has come. Mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent to Ahmadinejad, but an inducement.”
Although it is not yet quite official as I write, the word is that the next IDF Chief of Staff will be Major General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi.
Well…Hillary has thrown her hat in the race. Not exactly a surprise, but you’ll surely not see me dancing in response to her announcement. As the time is right, I expect that I’ll have a good deal to say about her.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/1/22/posted-january-22-2007.html