The very reputable Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center , which has close ties with the Shin Bet, has released a report, "Hamas’s Military Buildup in the Gaza Strip." It says that Hamas has an army of 20,000 armed men, many of whom were trained in trained in Iran and Lebanon. They have modeled themselves after Hezbollah, drawing lessons from the last war. The report details the brigades and the types of weapons they have.
The buildup is not expected to reach completion for some years yet.
You can read the report here:
My question, then, is whether we’re going to sit here and wait for that completion. There’s no one awake at the helm at the moment, unfortunately.
It has now been released that the Israeli police arrested two young Palestinians in March who were in the country illegally and were planning to perpetrate a terrorist attack by putting poison in the food at the Ramat Gan restaurant where they worked.
They had been recruited by a cell of Al Aksa Brigades — which you will please note, is part of the "moderate" Fatah. This particular cell is directed and financed by Hezbollah. So, note this as well: Fatah receives Hezbollah (which means Iranian) financial support.
Two men, one of them named Hani Ka’abi, from the Balata Refugee Campus in Nablus, were going to supply the slow acting, tasteless, colorless poison powder.
Warned the announcement from the prime minister’s office with regard to this:
"It should be emphasized that the terrorist infrastructure headed by Hani Ka’abi is currently active in attempting to perpetrate other terrorist attacks, possibly with the assistance of other Palestinians illegally present in Israel."
This means that hiring or in any way assisting illegal Palestinian workers is NOT a good idea. To my way of thinking, to increase the number of workers permitted into the country is all together not a good idea either.
But it’s clear that Defense Minister Barak doesn’t agree with me, as he is going to request of the Cabinet that the quota for Palestinian construction workers be increased by 5,000 (subject to security restrictions).
As Olmert and Barak proceed with various con cessions to the Palestinians, there is frequently discussion here about whether this is Olmert’s initiative and Rice and Bush are coming along for the ride, or whether Bush and Rice, in particular, are pushing Israel into actions we’d rather not take.
Often, the consensus is that the initiative comes from Olmert , and often that assessment is not wrong. But here’s a case where it isn’t so:
The US (and I believe this winner came from the White House) has a new proposal: By the end of this year, Israel and the Palestinians should sign a general agreement on principles good for five years, that doesn’t touch the issue of Jerusalem or the refugees. In the course of those five years, the Palestinians would have some "municipal sovereignty" in Jerusalem.
You know what this really is, don’t you?
It’s the "George Bush wants a legacy in his term, so he doesn’t give a damn what happens later as long as a piece of paper is signed" proposal. It is outrageous. And outrageously stupid. So full of holes it could be used as a sieve.
Allow me to point out just a few of the more egregious weaknesses in this plan:
What happens if there is no agreement at the end of five years and time has run out? Are the Palestinians going to be willing to go backwards?
Why should they have any "municipal sovereignty" if this was supposed to be shelf agreement that wouldn’t activate until the PA had eradicated terror infrastructure?
How can there be a "part-way" agreement? Either there is a meeting of the minds for a Palestinian state, on all core issues, or there is not. Actually, going part way raises hopes that might later be dashed, fomenting violence.
Ahmed Qurei has said "nothing doing." There has been no official word from Israel yet, but reports are that there is great reluctance to accept this plan. However, it is being said that the US might pressure both sides into taking it. Pressure both sides?
My thought: This is one point on which both sides can agree. They don’t like what Washington is proposing and don’t wish to sign on to it. They should convey a joint message that there will be no cooperation on this.
The single positive note here is that this proposal indicates that negotiations are indeed not moving smoothly.
In case you haven’t had enough of George Bush for one day, let me add this: Reports are that as Bush plans his itinerary for his visit in May to celebrate our 60th Independence Day, he will be scrupulously avoiding the Kotel (Western Wall) because this would imply that it’s part of Israel and that might infuriate the Palestinians.
Well, his decision infuriates me. How about you?
Maybe he needs to hear what you think about this:
Fax: 202-456-2461 Comment Line: 202-456-1111 email@example.com
Latest on that Sharm el-Sheikh conference that Bush (sorry, that name again) wants when he’s here in May: Israel will not be invited. It is to be a US-Arab meeting only, with Abbas, Mubarak and Abdullah.
In case you haven’t heard: Israel’s enemy , Jimmy Carter, apparently has plans to meet Hamas chief Mashaal in Damascus next week. The State Department is trying to discourage him.