Every time I assume that things are about as foolish as they can get, they become more so. Consider:
It was reported yesterday that Israel plans to file a complaint to the UN about the frequent Kassam attacks. Apparently Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman is going to speak to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and ask him to intervene to prevent these attacks.
The news release did not explain how Gillerman anticipates that Ban would be able to do this.
Remember UNSC Resolution 1701? That was the Olmert government’s "diplomatic resolution" to the war in Lebanon last year, proudly supported by our foreign minister in lieu of the strongest possible military action against Hezbollah. The thousands of international troops put in place by this resolution have not impeded Hezbollah from re-building its arsenal. Yet we go to the UN again?
And there’s more. Last night Foreign Minister Tzipni Livni, speaking about "the peace process" at a Kadima event, explained that negotiations with Abbas would not reduce the Kassams. Said she (emphasis added): “I am a big believer in dialogue between us and the Palestinians. I’m a big believer in dialogue with a group that it is possible to conduct a dialogue with. That group does not control all of the PA territories.”
How to read this? Abbas may be powerless, may be able to deliver on nothing. But hey! he’s the only one in town who will have talks with us, so let’s go for it.
Here’s more on just how powerless Abbas is:
The IDF has now determined that there are some 80,000 illegal weapons in the hands of terrorists in Judea and Samaria. Eighty-thousand. After all the talk of Abbas’s security forces gathering up weapons or getting people to surrender them. These are being kept in homes or in hidden caches.
Defense officials now say Hamas is as strong as Fatah in Judea and Samaria and could pose a genuine threat to Abbas. Good morning everyone!
"They have weapons and explosives and , more importantly, they are highly motivated."
Right now they are in a "waiting" period , while they work on uniting small cells, with central hubs in Jenin and Nablus. Hamas tried to establish a force in Judea and Samaria like the Executive Force in Gaza, but was stopped by the IDF (and according to al Quds al Arabi in London, on one occasion also by Fatah). And so the Hamas focus turned to infiltrating the PA security forces.
The IDF Central Command is convinced that within months Hamas will try to take over PA security forces and institutions.
The fear is that when a Hamas coup is attempted, Fatah people will collapse just as they did in Gaza, where they had four times as many men as Hamas.
This fear of a Fatah collapse has prompted our defense officials to oppose the Dayton plan for establishing five Fatah battalions in Judea and Samaria and giving them more weapons.
"It is not about manpower," one official said, "but about motivating the Fatah forces to want to fight and defend the PA."
Well, there’s a sense of relief that at least our defense establishment has it right with regard to the Dayton plan.
But then there’s this , which, unfortunately, in my opinion, qualifies as major foolishness: As an IDF official explains, "The security forces need to feel that they have a reason to fight. They need to feel like they have a better life to look forward to. Otherwise, they will not pose a challenge to Hamas."
To this end, the IDF is working with Abbas to find ways to motivate his men. So, for example, we may be easing travel restrictions in the coming weeks. But doing things like allowing them to travel more freely is not likely to motivate Fatah security forces. Not really. Abbas and his cronies are deeply hated by the people, with good reason. They are incredibly corrupt, stealing from the people and blocking opportunities for genuine economic advancement. Additionally, they have failed to establish and maintain a civil society; there is no sense of justice under the law.
I wrote recently about how Abbas is afraid to travel to Palestinian cities for fear of assassination. Are his security forces going to give him their best, even putting their lives on the line for him?
The IDF doesn’t address this, because it’s a political and not a military issue, but Olmert and Livni’s goal of providing a "political horizon" — showing what the people can get in the future if they renounce terrorism — is part of the same rationale. And just as foolish, for several reasons.
First, there is no evidence that what most of the Palestinian people want is a "two state solution" with a viable Israel at their border and cessation of all hostilities. What they want, in the main, is our destruction. (Plans for a two-state solution are seen as a stage toward weakening us.) Many in Israel and the West are either ignorant of, or choose to ignore, the fact that the Fatah charter calls for Israel’s destruction via violent resistance. Nor do those promoting "peace" deal realistically with the continuing incitement that exists in the PA, especially in textbooks that have taught a generation now to venerate "jihad." They have no intention of surrendering their "terrorist option" in exchange for what we offer.
Then there are further problems. No "political horizon" that we would offer meets even the minimal (stage one) demands of the Palestinians — which include control of Jerusalem and return of the "refugees." And so, whatever we propose seems unfair and grudging to them — we (the interlopers and occupiers) are seen to be taking too much for ourselves and expecting them to settle for too little. They do not perceive the need for real give and take with mutual concessions.
As well, there is this: A Palestinian state that is much like the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority does not offer the people hope for a good life. The same problems would exist — corruption, lack of a civil society, etc.
Very few of the people who push the idea that we should make advance concessions to the Palestinians — imagining that we can thus motivate them to genuine moderation — are willing to confront the cold, hard truth: we don’t have a negotiating partner and a Palestinian state would be a huge mistake. The Palestinians do not have their act together. We cannot "motivate" them to get it together, we cannot "fix" them from the outside.
Then, too, it is extremely unwise to raise expectations prematurely. It is, in fact, dangerous. For the Palestinians will have been given some promise that we will be making certain concessions. They won’t genuinely moderate and dismantle terrorist infrastructure. And yet — losing sight of their responsibility to the situation — they will begin to feel enormous frustration if what was "promised" in that "political horizon" (say, for example, absolute control of the Temple Mount) is not immediately forthcoming. Frustration will lead to anger. Increasingly they will resort to terrorism to get us to back down. We’ve seen this before.
And most dangerous of all, this : Once we’ve committed to certain concessions on paper, with the proviso that the Palestinians have to do their part before we can fulfill our promises, we are in a sense committed. The world cuts the Palestinians slack and ultimately we would be expected to move ahead at some level anyway.
< p>(Of course, if Hamas successfully co-opts Fatah in Judea and Samaria, the entire scenario likely shifts.)
Please see Hillel Halkin’s article in the NY Sun, "Summit of Weaklings," which addresses issues I raise here.
"The Olmert government," says Halkin, "is walking, with eyes wide open, into a potential diplomatic trap.
"…For a country that has been an independent state in the Middle East for 50 years, Israel still acts like a European tourist in an Arab souk [market]. Do that and the local merchants will always fleece you."
I mentioned the other day that Abbas has assigned the Jerusalem portfolio to one Adnan Husseini, which certainly indicates that Abbas expects Jerusalem to be on the table in negotiations with Olmert.
One of Husseini’s first tasks, it has been reported, is to convince Israel to re-open Orient House and other Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. Orient House — owned by the prestigious Husseini family to which Adnan belongs — served as an unofficial PLO mission/headquarters following Oslo; it rings all sorts of bells for many of us because it was used blatantly for meetings that were illegal under Oslo. PM Binyamin Netanyahu had it shut down in 2001.
Jerusalem’s mayor, Uri Lupolianski , has now voiced his opposition to opening of Orient House, saying that it will harm the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty in the city.
That is Abbas’s intention, is it not?
Defense Minister Barak is looking into the idea of mobile checkpoints in Judea and Samaria to replace some of the stationary ones. This, he indicates, would provide on-going security while allowing the Palestinians greater mobility. This plan cannot be put into place, however, until a sufficient number of troops are trained to use this new method.
Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has approved plans for purchasing sophisticated new equipment for ground, air and navy forces. This equipment will include new Merkava Tanks and sophisticated APCs (armored personnel carriers). The Air Force will acquire F-35 aircraft, a multi-role stealth strike fighter, and the Navy new military boats.
According to a website of the armed branch of Hamas, Hamas is insisting on 1,000 prisoners who are serving long sentences, to be released in three stages, in return for Shalit. Israel is said to be objecting both to some of the names and the timing of the releases.
It has been discovered that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the barrage of rockets hitting Sderot and the surrounding area. An emergency security situation has been called for the region for a period of 48 hours. There is talk of specifically targeting Islamic Jihad people, and possibly of doing some cut-off of water and electricity into Gaza.
The IDF is saying that it is inevitable that a major action will have to be instituted, and now opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu is calling for the same.