Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)
Well, the Palestinian National Council approved the new unity government today, with 83 votes out of 87 council members participating. (There are 132 seats in the legislature, but 41 members are in Israeli prisons.) The 25 members of the cabinet were then sworn in by PA President Abbas.
I have very bad feelings about this and hope that the inherent tension between Hamas and Fatah will surface quickly, and in a major way, to weaken them. There is danger that at some level they are about to achieve their goal of being accepted by the international community.
PA PM Haniyeh declared today that "The government affirms that resistance in all its forms, including popular resistance to occupation, is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people." This means, just for starters, they are declaring that they have the right to commit terrorist acts if we are anywhere outside of the Green Line. That’s what they want people to think, at any rate. They actually define our presence here in the land — anywhere in the land — as "occupation," since it is "their" land.
The government will be working towards an end to "occupation," rights of the refugees, and (this is my favorite), a halt to Judaization of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Jewish, you clowns. The northern faction of the Islamic Movement today appealed to the new gov’t to make "Jerusalem and al-Aksa mosque" its first priority. The Islamic Movement — registered in Israel and headed by Israeli Arabs — is the group that made the biggest furor over the Mughrabi gate construction.
Finland has already voiced approval of the gov’t and agreed to resume political and economic relations with the PA. Other countries are not far behind. Britain has called formation of this gov’t a "step in the right direction." (I’d love to see someone from the British Foreign Office explain exactly how this is so.) Of course, from Arab countries there is praise.
Abbas today said that the Palestinians hand was "extended" toward Israel in seeking a "comprehensive peace." As the gov’t he just swore in calls for terrorism and the return of 4.2 million "refugees" to Israel, this offer does not quite smack of sincerity. Miri Eisen, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said that Abbas and Haniyeh spoke in two different voices.
MK Effi Eitam (NU/NRP) leveled a similar charge at the Olmert gov’t. On the one hand, Olmert says he won’t deal with the new unity gov’t, but on the other, he says he’ll keep talking to Abbas, its president. This position, says Eitam, makes it easier for the international community to recognize the new gov’t:
"…this delivers a weak message to the world… Israel is closing her eyes to the Hamas government which has disguised itself as a unity government in hope of winning international support.
"Israel must cut ties with [Abbas] until all Hamas ministers resign."
From his prison cell in Israel, where he is serving five consecutive life terms, terrorist Marwan Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (one of those 41 who couldn’t vote) and greatly respected within Fatah, is calling for all factions and institutions to prepare for a one-million person demonstration to mark the 40th anniversary of "the occupation of Palestine," i.e., the Six Day War of June ’67, which resulted in Israel taking Judea & Samaria, Gaza, the Golan, and eastern Jerusalem.
Barghouti wants to "transform this anniversary into an opportunity to renew unanimity in rejecting the occupation and [being] insistent on resistance so as to achieve freedom, independence and right of repatriation."
He’s revving the people up — and he’s good at this. Barghouti helped orchestrate the second Intifada, which was supposed to have happened "spontaneously" in 2000 after Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount.
Note his call to the people to be "insistent on resistance." Go for the terrorism, guys.
The additional comments I had promised with regard to the difference between the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and a projected withdrawal from Judea & Samaria:
Gaza, though legitimately part of the Land of Israel, was not broadly perceived that. Unfortunately many had the feeling that it was easier to just leave this region to the Arabs. They had hopes — in spite of serious warnings by security experts — that this would promote an improved security situation and increased strength for Israel. Certainly PM Sharon sold it partly on this basis. They were prepared to try.
Well, now we know empirically what happens when we pull out of an area and leave it to the Palestinians. This is not theory any longer — not one perspective advanced by some security experts. And it is not just a matter of the Kassams that are fired at us regularly: it’s the incredible buildup of arms inside of Gaza that speaks of intentions to hit us hard. We know. And so my guess (my prayer?) is that people won’t buy it the second time around. Thoughtful, serious, influential people who were willing to give it a try the first time have acknowledged what a mistake the exit from Gaza was.
What is more, vacating Judea & Samaria would create an even greater security risk. We monitor the far border of Gaza by patrolling in the Mediterranean. At the far border of Judea & Samaria is Jordan. Should Jordan be overrun from the east (from Iraq — not an impossible scenario), our military presence in Judea & Samaria would be critically important. In addition there are high areas, especially, in Samaria, from which shooting down on our population centers and airport would be possible.
Then there is the fact that Judea & Samaria are clearly and incontrovertibly part of the ancient Jewish heritage here and part of the Land of Israel. Eastern Jerusalem and the areas to the east in Judea & Samaria are actually more deeply connected to Jewish heritage than western Jerusalem and many areas west. To sell the idea of relinquishing this would be more difficult.
Lastly, there is the population that would be evacuated (let this all be hypothetical!): In Gush Katif and communities in the north of Gaza there were some 8,000 Jews. In all of Judea & Samaria there are roughly 70,000. Not a simple matter logistically, especially as resistance would be stronger this time around. The colossal failure of the government to provide properly for the 8,000 is a stain upon our record. It has hardened the hearts of many and made them resolve to resist any future moves at forcibly moving Jews out of their homes.
There is the staggering financial cost that would be incurred, and much more importantly, there is the cost to the effectiveness and moral of the IDF. This country learned a bitter lesson regarding inappropriate utilization of our soldiers, which drained the resources and the moral of the IDF. It has been pointed out this may have been one reason for our poor showing in Lebanon.
And so I suggest that while Olmert plans and dreams and talks of doing this, the actualization of unilateral "realignment" would not be a simple matter, and hopefully cannot be achieved. The mere fact that he plans and dreams and talks of this is the stuff of nightmares.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/3/17/posted-march-17-2007.html