Things just became a whole lot more complicated for the Israeli government as the Popular Resistance Committee, involved in the attack which captured IDF officer Gilad Shalit, also kidnapped a young settler near Ramallah possibly on Sunday. There are unconfirmed reports that the boy may already be dead; though if this is so, it hasn’t stopped the PRC from trying to use the victim as leverage to stop the IDF incursion into Gaza.
Though Ehud Olmert issued an especially harsh, ‘dogs of war’ statement yesterday promising vengeance on anyone involved in the IDF kidnapping (and also on the Hamas political echelon which appears to have had nothing to do with the guerrilla operation), his latest statements appear to have softened ever so slightly. Perhaps this may have something to do with Condi Rice’s direct appeal to Olmert to give diplomacy a chance (which, in the form of the IDF invasion he has clearly rejected):
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday called on Israel to give diplomacy more time. “There really needs to be an effort now to try and calm the situation, not to let the situation escalate, and to give diplomacy a chance to work to try to get this release,” Ms. Rice told reporters during a refueling stop in Scotland en route to Pakistan.
Israel and the IDF finds itself in an awkward situation. It has massed troops, tanks and equipment for a massive incursion. It knows Shalit is in the Khan Yunis refugee camp. But it also knows that if it enters that camp it runs a very high risk of causing Shalit’s death. This is indeed what happened to the last IDF soldier kidnapped by Palestinian militants, Nachshon Waxman. Then PM Rabin refused to negotiate with the kidnappers and sent in a rescue force. In the course of the operation both the kidnapped soldier and the mission leader were both killed. One hopes that Olmert will bear this in mind as he proceeds with his plans for this operation.
The IDF supposedly has a plan to ratchet up the pressure on the kidnappers if they refuse to release Shalit. The IDF has a history of talking as if it is capable of fine gradations of tactical response to various situations and then goes in guns blazing with often disastrous results. Let us hope that someone’s listening to the three government ministers including Shimon Peres who urged Olmert not to invade precisely because it might ensure Shalit’s death.
I wonder who chose the name “Operation Summer Rain” for the Gaza incursion, since there isn’t any in Israel or Gaza. They wouldn’t by chance be saying the chance that this operation will bring peace, stability or the release of Gilad Shalit are about as high as the chance of summer rain??
Hamas-Fatah National Unity Government Agreed
Another important development that looms large in the background (or at least SHOULD loom large) is the report that Hamas and Fatah have finally agreed to jointly sign the Prisoner’s Document and create a national unity government within two weeks. I have little hope that Olmert realizes that if such a government IS created precisely the type of political moderation which Israel has been demanding from the PA might be in the offing. That is, if Israel doesn’t roil the waters so savagely in its incursion that the entire Prisoner’s Document/national unity government project becomes a casualty of war.
For a typically obtuse Israeli government response to these Palestinian political developments, read this from the NY Times:
“We are at the edge of the cliff, and everyone is asking the Palestinian leadership to help avert this crisis and release our serviceman,” said Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. “Yet energy and time is being put into this prisoners document, and it’s in many ways tragic.”
What IS tragic is Regev’s obtuseness rather than the time and energy spent on the Prisoner’s Document.
Haaretz describes the agreement thusly:
Hamas acceded to Fatah during the negotiations on the contentious points of limiting armed resistance to territories occupied by Israel in 1967 and creating a unity government. The agreement also secures the Palestine Liberation Organization as the single legitimate representative body of Palestinians. According to the agreement, changes will be made to the PLO to integrate within it Islamist organizations.
The agreement also authorizes the PA Chairman to negotiate with Israel on a permanent agreement – sidestepping Israel’s embargo on talks with Hamas – and paves the way for a national Palestinian referendum.
There is disagreement among them as to whether Hamas, in signing the document, has tacitly recognized Israel. Some in Hamas say they haven’t. But Haaretz quotes a representative:
Hamas accepted it only after amendments it insisted would allow it to…reject any suggestion the deal could imply it now accepts Israel’s existence.
“The document included a clear clause referring to the non-recognition of the legitimacy of the occupation,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
The NY Times article helpfully clarifies the ‘occupation’ reference:
By the last phrase, Hamas normally means the occupation of historic Palestine by an Israeli state of any kind; the Hamas charter explicitly says that Palestine is Islamic waqf — land given by God to Muslims, who cannot cede it or sell it.
I suppose the proof of the pudding regarding recognition is in the implementation. If the coming national unity government takes steps indicating that it does accept Israel then we will know where Hamas stands; and if the Hamas members of this government refuse to participate in such steps then we will also know where it stands.
What, no condemnation of kidnapping innocent civilians? Even to put the veneer of objectivity onto your blog? I’m disappointed. Can the Palestinians do ANYTHING wrong in your opinion?
Richard Silverstein says
Oh please! I’ll make a deal with you: show me the first thing you write that’s either sympathetic to the Palestinians or critical of Israeli policy toward them, then we’ll talk.
I’ve already told you this & won’t repeat it again. This blog is full of criticism & condemnation of Palestinian actions. I criticized the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit here or didn’t you bother to read that?
You’re ridiculous & instead of explaining myself to someone who stopped thinking rationally about this subject round about the 2nd grade (or was it in your mama’s womb?), I’ll stop wasting my energy & thought on your drivel.
A rational adult would have reacted to my comment this way: please see this and this example where I have criticized the Palestinians.
You did not do this, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt and read your archives to see if you really did criticize the kidnapping of Gilad. Your only criticism of the act was a criticism of the TIMING of the occurence, not the act itself. If I am wrong, provide me with an example.
You then went on to completely lose your head and attack me personally. I have to admit that you are right, in that I did not think rationally about the Israeli/Arab conflict when I was in my mother’s womb, and later in second grade – I think I probably thought boys were yucky at that age, but that’s as close as it gets.
I have to come here more often – it really is so easy to get you to go off the deep end!
Andrew Schamess says
Wow, Richard. You just get sharper all the time. Nice job dispensing with Regev.
Your critic seems to be grasping at straws here. I would actually value a clear, articulate pro-Israeli-military point of view – as I’m sure you would. It’s always good to see things from other perspectives. But I don’t find an attempt to defend Israeli’s tactics in her comments – or, for that matter, any substantive response at all to your post. Instead, she accuses you of not being objective.
Since when are blogs objective? You want objective, go read the mainstream media.
Obviously you’re sympathetic to the basic human and national rights of the Palestinan people, Richard – but that does not make you an uncritical supporter of all Palestinian actions. She needs you to hyperlink all your posts criticizing terrorism? Really, dear, read the blog.
Anyhow… there is something heroic about Israel’s determination to protect its citizens, to bring Shalit back alive even if it needs to go to extremes. This has been a part of Israel’s ethos from the beginning, and one can’t help but admire it in part.
The sad accompanying irony, though, is how little regard Israel seems to have for non-Jewish lives. Power and food shortages cuased by the Gaza iincursion are sure to result in child deaths; and, if things go as they have in the past, the ground attack will cause numerous civilian casualties.
Do Palestinian children deserve to die for Shalit to live? If, indeed, Israel’s actions do result in his release – which you are right to quesiton.
Deek Deekster says
The war against Palestine is ongoing and endless. Governments in the West with few exceptions back the USA’s uncritical stance, and their media follows. A recent BBC poll found that 80%+ of people in Britain thought that the Palestinians had invaded (or were trying to take over) Israel!
Such is the influence of hard-core Zionism, that nothing is taught of recent middle-eastern history, even in schools which now have the fall of communism in their curriculum. If it were not for single-minded and passionate individuals keeping these issues prominent, pointing out the hypocrisy and the facts, they would be swept under the carpet, Palestine would be swept off the map, and the majority of the remaining Palestinian population extinguished without a murmur.
Richard Silverstein says
Spare me the petty moralizing. I don’t need yr schooling in how to be a “rational adult.” Nor do I need to take time fr. my efforts to write original posts on the latest developments in this heinous affair to go back over my old posts to prove to you something you’ll never accept anyway (i.e. that I criticize both sides of the conflict). And btw, you asked me whether I EVER criticize Palestinians, not just whether I’ve criticized them in this case. The answer is that I’ve criticized them in this case & previously. If you look up the phrase “both sides never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” you’ll find it referenced several times. That means that I criticize Israel AND the Palestinians.
I wrote this in criticism of Hamas’ involvement in the kidnapping in which I wrote that when it attacked an Israeli outpost on Israeli territory it violated the terms of the Prisoner’s Document which it was about to sign:
And one of my commenters took me to task for calling the outpost attack a “terror” operation (guess you missed my use of that term to describe a Palestinian militant attack, now didn’t you?). Here is part of my reply:
And in last night’s post on the murder of Eliyahu Osheri, I wrote:
I include myself in the term “everyone else” above.
Why go off the deep end when you’ve gone off it already in terms of yr own extreme politics? And btw if I’m ‘off the deep end’ I wonder what you’re gonna be saying when this conflict ends up being resolved more or less along the lines I & many others have put forward as the anticipated final status resolution of the conflict. It won’t look anything like whatever yr horrid vision of the future looks like. At that pt, we’ll know for sure who was really “off the deep end.”
Saul Rosen says
We offered them partition in the 1940s…They joined forces to destroy us.
In 1967 we told Jordan not to attack…they did and after two thousand years we returned to the Temple Mount. A united Jerusalem…the religious capital of the Jews thousands of years before the birth of Mohammed.
In 1973, while we observed the most sacred day of the Jewish liturgical year they sought to destroy us…we prevailed with a loss of life proportional to the total loss of US soldiers in WW II.
We returned the Sinai to Egypt in the 1980s and in return we have been given a “Cold” Peace.
Camp David, Oslo etc…. we offered a hand in Peace. Who amongst the nations of Islam has reached out to take our hand in Peace, mourned for our slain children, acknowledged our right to live in our homeland free of intimidation and threats of iminent destruction.
One year ago we removed the last Jewish settlement in Gaza. Many people believed we would never make such a concession. In return the Palestinians have launched hundreds of rockets into the communities of Southern Israel.
Yes, even today, we stand as a light amongst nations. We are far from perfect but our restraint against revenge and hopes for peaceful coexistence is of Biblical proportions.
Richard Silverstein says
Saul Rosen is yet another flag-waving Israel-loving patriot living in cloud cuckoo land. It must be tremendously comforting to be able to live in such a hermetically sealed, climate-controlled environment in which Israel behaves in ways entirely pure and benign; while those nasty A-rabs behave in ways entirely deceitful and evil. So nice to never have a cloud banish the sun fr. yr perfect Zionist Eden.
I love how you respond to those with whom you disagree byinsulting them. You sound like a child. Or perhaps someone who forgot to take their heart medication.
Richard Silverstein says
I only insult those who either insult me or the intelligence of my readers (or both). And both you & Saul have both done that ever so well. I’d urge you to say something intelligent & see whether my response changes though I’m not certain either of you is capable of that.