Well…yesterday we were told that during their meeting Abbas assured Olmert that the release of Shalit was imminent, and that he would be working to try to make it happen before the unity gov’t was finalized (which is what he had earlier promised Olmert he would do).
But what a difference day makes. Today Hamas is saying that the release of Shalit is not on their agenda, as they have "more important" things to deal with.
What does this tell us? I would say that it proves, once again, that Abbas will say whatever he thinks his interlocutors want to hear — whatever will win him points, for the moment. That is, it proves, once again, that Abbas’s word is worthless.
So, the real question now is how this affects future "summits" between Olmert and Abbas. Will Olmert publicly protest? Refuse to meet someone so prone to lying that it seems pointless? Doubt it very much.
A personal experience of mine that I recall now sheds light on what is going on. Some 3 or so years ago, in the course of doing research on UNRWA, I had a specific question regarding how UNRWA operates. I had frequent contact with the man who headed the public information office of UNRWA here in Jerusalem. And so, I posed my question to him. "I don’t know," he told me. At that point I realized I was not going to get an answer (i.e., he didn’t want me to have the answer, as it did not reflect well on UNRWA). This was something he surely would have known — one way or the other. "However," he assured me, "I will check with the appropriate department and get you an answer."
Needless to say, I received no answer from him. I wasn’t expecting one.
But it happened one day that I went to attend a conference concerning the Palestinians, and this man was present. When he saw me walk in the door, he ran to me, and asked, "Did you get my e-mail?" No… "I sent you an e-mail today with the answer." What are the odds, I thought, that just on the day of this conference he happened to send me an e-mail. But, giving him the ever so slight benefit of the doubt, I checked my e-mail when I returned home. Of course, there was no message from him.
I was bewildered. Why, I asked someone with more experience in these matters than I had, why did he give me this particular lie, which would be exposed the moment I got home? Why didn’t he tell me he tried and tried to get the answer for me and just couldn’t? That lie would have held fairly indefinitely and would have shown he had the best of intentions.
It’s in the culture, I was told. This is what they do. However, by the rules of the game I was not allowed to pursue this further, calling him to say I had received no e-mail and asking him what the answer was. That would have been all together too confrontational. It was a closed issue. That floored me at the time: that he could dispense with me so glibly. But now I see…
When the public information officer was face to face with me, he told me exactly what he knew I’d want to hear — that he had the answer for me. By doing that he saved face while in contact with me — he came across as someone who would deliver. Just as Abbas, on meeting Olmert face to face, gave him exactly what Olmert would want to hear, and thus saved face. And what happens thereafter, be damned.
This is our strength and our pride: An analysis has been done of the preferences of new recruits about to enlist in the army. Almost 70% of them want to serve in a combat unit. The Golani Brigades, a very prestigious unit, was the choice of 30% of the recruits in spite of the fact that the Brigades took heavy losses in Lebanon over the summer. There were actually almost 3 recruits vying for every available spot in the Brigades. According to one officer, the war motivated the recruits and unified the nation — there are no cases of people trying to avoid service.
But I see yet another factor very much in play. A large percentage of this month’s recruits are from the hesder program: religious young men who spend part of their service time in yeshiva and part in the IDF. It has been noted consistently that religious soldiers comprise a relatively higher percentage of the elite forces and are more motivated. Their sense of purpose is stronger.
Things are really going great in the PA areas:
— In Gaza, masked gunmen have kidnapped Alan Johnston, a BBC TV reporter, grabbing him from his car.
— In Judea (West Bank), near Tekoa, a woman was lightly injured when stones were thrown at her car.
— Violence is increasing in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas. A branch of the Al Aksa Brigades (Fatah) says their leader escaped an assassination attempt.
— Outside of Jenin, IDF troops were fired upon.
— Three Hamas members suspected of having responsibility for a failed kidnapping of an Israeli citizen were caught near Ramallah. Two of the three had been released from Israeli prison, one recently and one last June. Please note.
Fatah activists are calling for the lifting of parliamentary immunity for outgoing interior minister Said Saim (Hamas) in order to bring him to trial on charges of committing crimes against the Palestinians. Saim is spearheading action to prevent the unity gov’t from taking place and the charges against him are many: He refused to dismantle the Hamas "Executive Force" death squads, and has arranged for the release of Palestinians arrested on suspicion of murder.
Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post predicts that this is going to complicate finalization of the unity gov’t. But Haniyeh is saying all issues have been resolved and the gov’t will be announced shortly.
Yesterday, on Al-Jazeera, the second–in-command of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, delivered a "eulogy" for Hamas, saying they have "fallen into the swamp of surrender" by signing a unity agreement with Fatah. They betrayed Palestine for a few seats in the government, he charged.
Today Hamas retorted with expected fury. The Hamas statement that was released should be noted carefully:
"All the land of Palestine is waqf (Muslim trust) land which no one has the right to give up. We will continue to be faithful to our principles regarding Palestine, the central issue of Muslims around the world."
This is the bottom line: All of Israel is Muslim land and religious principles forbid Jews to have it. The international community can stand on its head debating whether Hamas will recognize Israel de facto or recognize Israel’s right to exist. Whether Hamas will moderate out of necessity. This is what Hamas believes and what it is dedicated to. All the rest is subterfuge.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/3/12/posted-march-12-2007.html