Monday, February 04, 2008

"Promise Broken"

Arlene Kushner

Ehud Barak's promise, that is. Did we really expect better from him? Last spring, when he was seeking support before a Labor primary, he said, with regard to the Interim Report of Winograd, which had been released, "Olmert must seek personal conclusions and resign, as Dan Halutz and Amir Peretz did, each in his own way. If Olmert does not [quit] by the full report's publication, we will have to end our partnership with him and work to establish a new government in the current Knesset, or alternatively, to set a date for elections." Today he announced he was staying in the government because circumstances had changed. He was doing it for the nation, you see. (And, just incidentally for Ehud Barak.) Never mind that he had promised, never mind that he hadn't qualified his original statement. But then, what is a politician's promise worth?

Many are very angry at him for this decision, including some members of Labor, who fear a grassroots backlash against the party now.

Just one more reason to be disillusioned, and weary, and angry.


Let me review, very succinctly, some of Barak's contributions to peace in the last few years. In 2000, he made a rash decision to pull out of Lebanon, thereby setting the scene for the buildup of Hezbollah; and he did it in a precipitous manner, running in the night, that lost Israel respect and deterrence power.

He also negotiated with Arafat, offering him pretty close to (but not quite all of) what Olmert would like to offer Abbas now. Arafat's response was the Intifada of 2000. Barak ended up saying that he wasn't really offering everything to Arafat, he was just exposing him to show the world he wasn't sincerely. Yea, right...

Is there a school for politicians that teaches them how to dissemble and cover their rear ends, or does it just come naturally to these guys?


There will be a major demonstration against Olmert tomorrow. And during regular session tomorrow, the Knesset will discuss Winograd.



Most painful, most distressing, is the report that Yuval Diskin, head of Shin Bet, gave to the Cabinet today. Hamas has utilized the breakdown of the fence between Egypt and Gaza as an opportunity for bringing into Gaza sophisticated weapons: including long-range rockets, anti-tank missiles, and anti-aircraft missiles. In addition, operatives who were trained in Iran, Syria and Egypt have re-entered Gaza to help with terrorist operations.

You realize, of course, that this was THE reason the fence was breached; this had been planned long in advance and "starving people" was nothing but an opportune excuse.

I contemplate this, my friends, and I shudder. Literally. I am aghast that we are sitting here and not rushing to take out that equipment and those who would use it. We've been through the anguish of the Winograd analysis of the Lebanon War, which we are told suffered because of lack of planning and a failure to have strategy and the impression of weakness conveyed to our enemies. AND NOW? We have the same government acting with as little strength and efficiency as before.

The word that best applies here is "unbearable." I'll return to more from Diskin's report below.


Part of Hamas's plan now is to avoid the Israeli siege by maintaining contact with Egypt. Yesterday, according to YNet, the newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, carried an interview with an advisor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas is hoping that Egypt will supply fuel and electricity instead of Israel, and that Rafah would serve as a gateway for commerce.


According to which report you read, Egypt already has closed up the breached fence in Rafah or is well on its way to doing so. Also according to which report you read Hamas is said to be willing to cooperate -- this announcement coming yesterday after Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar returned from Cairo, or Hamas gunmen are undermining efforts to seal the fence -- this position bolstered by Ismail Haniyeh who said the fence would not be hermetically sealed again (see above). Of course, both could be true at the same time, as one faction works against another.

Reports indicate that the few thousand Gazans stranded in Egypt who have visas for other countries for study or work will be allowed to travel.

A Mubarak spokesman says Egypt will not tolerate another rupture in the fence.


Barak is now calling urgently for the construction of a serious security fence along the border between the Sinai and the Negev, as that border has become a prime place for Gazan terrorists to try to slip into Israel.


Well, here's a politician who tells it true:

Abu Ali Shaheen, a long-time member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a former PA minister, claims that Abbas and the leadership of Fatah abandoned their men last June during the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

He is the first one in Fatah to say it out loud, but the information was out there for those willing to learn. I carry quotes in my most recent Fatah report indicating that Abbas didn't declare an emergency in Gaza until his own house was being ransacked, and that the fighters in the field had been told to shoot only in self-defense.


Directly relevant to this is the information provided to the Cabinet by Diskin yesterday that Hamas is gaining strength and Fatah is getting weaker in Judea and Samaria.

More and more it's the stuff of nightmares: that we have a prime minister negotiating with Abbas regarding our turning over large parts of Judea and Samaria to the PA. What would happen is all too obvious.


Haaretz is reporting that the prime minister is blocking construction in the Givat Ze'ev settlement north of Jerusalem. This is in spite of the fact that Olmert had promised Shas that construction would be allowed to continue in the Greater Jerusalem area.

We know Olmert lies. But what will Shas do about it? Nothing.

I've been delaying writing about this only because it disgusts me so: Shas is proud of staying in the government. In order to keep them in, Olmert has promised to table talks on Jerusalem until last in negotiations. See, crowed members of Shas, because of us Jerusalem will not be discussed now.

Ah, but because of you, Shas, the government stands, when otherwise it might have fallen. And good that Jerusalem should not be divided, but what about the rest of the country? What about turning over Judea and Samaria to terrorists and relinquishing places of sanctity and historical significance -- our heritage? This is OK, Shas?


Seems an al Qaeda affiliate is connected to the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania.


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