Ali Abunimah blogs that a diplomatic source has told him that George Mitchell directed the Israelis not to make a deal for Gilad Shalit’s freedom, as it would only strengthen Hamas. In addition, this report from Yediot Achronot (Hebrew) notes that Shalit’s freedom would come at the expense of freeing Marwan Barghouti on the Palestinian side. The latter would become the defacto popular leader of Fatah and thus displace the U.S. crony Abbas, which this administration wishes to avoid.
If this is true (and I should make clear that I can’t vouch for reliability of this information), it would be shocking. It’s one thing for an ideologically right-wing president like George Bush to plot against Hamas in such a fashion. But for the Obama administration to intercede in such a matter is reprehensible. First, this is a matter between Israel and Hamas. Second, it would indicate that Obama’s policies toward Hamas and the Palestinians are just as feeble as his predecessor. Third, whether Shalit is freed or remains captive, Hamas remains strong in Gaza. Fourth, it is a shande for the U.S. government play a role Gilad Shalit’s continued imprisonment.
I’ve read reports in the Israeli media blaming the Netanyahu government for refusing to release the requisite number of Palestinian captives to satisfy Hamas. Der Spiegel also reports the Merkel government is angry at Bibi for turning down the deal paintstakingly drafted by their German mediator. And of course the Israeli government blames Hamas for their unwillingness to be “reasonable.” But this is the first time I’ve heard our own country blamed.
There is something so disturbing about this report that I’d like to believe it’s not true. But I have to report it because if it is true, then Obama has fallen a notch from the already low regard with which I held his Israel-Palestine policies.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Gilad Shalit’s Parents Say Israel Abandoned Him (abcnews.go.com)
- Israeli protesters press Binyamin Netanyahu to help free abducted soldier Gilad Shalit (guardian.co.uk)