Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria will soon become areas "of violent clashes" between Fatah and Hamas. This is according to Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, Head of the Research Division at Military Intelligence, who provided a briefing to the Cabinet today. He said Fatah forces were trying to control Hamas but were ineffective and depended on the IDF.
So this is the reality. The question, then , is whether anyone — Bush, Rice and Olmert included — really believes a state can be fashioned from this.
Rice may be acting as if she thinks she can pull this off, but according to Aluf Benn of Haaretz, behind closed doors she’s focusing on practical issues, such as revamping PA security forces, and not on stages for bringing about a state.
According to the Haaretz analysis, here in Israel it’s negotiating novices Olmert and Livni who are most optimistic about making something happen. Those — even those well to the left who are ideologically predisposed to a state — who have "been there, done that" are skeptical now: Peres says Gaza is lost and Jordan must be involved (which means no Palestinian state as it had been envisioned during the Oslo period), and Barak, who offered Arafat a state in 2000, says Fatah and Hamas want the same thing but differ in their methods.
Martin Indyk, who served as US ambassador to Israel under Clinton and was around when Arafat said no to a state in 2000, stated the other day that he believes the Bush administration, in the year and some months that remain to it, does not have the time to forge a peace deal:
"I hope that’s not their plan. If so, they’ll drive it to a bad end. It’s bad to set artificial deadlines.
"I was burned by that. To try to push to a [full] agreement in the final year of the administration is precisely what George Bush criticized Clinton for doing. It would be ironic indeed if Bush wound up doing it himself."
The Palestinians, says Indyk, "don’t have the institutions or the capabilities to be responsible partners" to a final status deal.
He’s on the mark with all of this. What’s bad news is his solution: Some 10,000 international forces to help train the Palestinians and do joint operations with them. We do not want 10,000 international troops in Judea and Samaria. This is a recipe for disaster. And look how effective international forces in Lebanon have been.
Indyk’s parting shot is simply laughable: Bringing in foreign troops could gradually restore Israeli confidence in the viability of a "partnership" with the Palestinians. Does he not see the flaw in his reasoning? If the Palestinians need 10,000 outside troops to do what they should be doing, why would this restore confidence in them? This sort of thinking is endemic among those eager to cut the Palestinians slack.
And so the charade goes on. Tomorrow Olmert and Abbas will be meeting in Jericho to discuss "principles" that are preliminary to negotiations. Abbas says that this meeting must be one of "substance and not merely protocol."
Today PA security officials had an announcement . It involves that group of some 180 Al-Aksa Brigades members to whom we were going to offer amnesty (going to stop pursuing) if they relinquished their weapons and foreswore terrorism. Well, the PA is saying that all but three on the list have now surrendered their weapons.
Call me an old cynic, if you wish, but, quite simply: I don’t believe it. Or, let’s say that either this is a fiction, or a pretense — with these guys being convinced to temporarily hand in their weapons with a promise they’ll get them back.
Why am I so cynical? Well, cynicism is, broadly, the proper frame of mind to adopt when dealing with the Palestinians. But in this instance the logic of the situation positively cries out for cynicism. Just days ago Israeli security was saying some 50% of those on the list had not turned in their weapons.
But now Abbas is to meet with Olmert. And guess what he intends to ask for? MORE Al Aksa Brigades people to be given amnesty. The number is 206, I believe. And how could he ask, if the first group wasn’t cooperating? So, perhaps he talked the malingerers into going with the plan temporarily so that more of their brothers might reap the benefits they will be reaping: no surprise raids by the IDF in the middle of the night.
Clearly, do not count on all of these Al Aksa guys having sincerely renounced terrorism. This is a reality check.
Last night the Israel air force took out two vehicles in southern Gaza, thereby foiling a major terrorist attack in the planning. One of the vehicles carried Islamic Jihad operatives and a large number of explosive devices including suicide belts.
Also reality: They’re still out there, still trying to get us. And we must thank Heaven every day for the vigilance of our forces, who stop them before they succeed.