In the course of a couple of days, we have managed to find ourselves with Shimon Peres as Israel’s president-elect and Ehud Barak as head of Labor – and aiming for a good deal more.
Barak, who bested MK Ami Ayalon by a mere 3.6% of the votes on Tuesday, is not currently in the Knesset. He has made a substantial number of claims at one and the same time: that he will now unite the Labor party, that – as a former IDF chief of staff – he is best equipped to lead the nation in time of war, but that he is also a man who can “secure the peace.” Before taking these words too seriously, it is best to look at his record.
Barak, the military man, decided in 2000, when he was prime minister, to pull our troops out of Lebanon precipitously. That decision – which delivered a message of weakness – haunts us to this day. It was also in 2000 that Barak offered Arafat the store: a shared Jerusalem, all of Gaza, some 90% of Judea and Samaria, for an independent Palestinian state. Arafat turned him down cold, saving us from Barak’s poor judgment. Of course, Arafat, convinced even more that we were weak, then started the 2nd Intifada, with the expectation that he could secure yet greater gains. Not an auspicious record for Barak, who, it is now assumed, will replace Peretz as minister of defense.
Yet one other factor he stressed during his campaign was that he is the only one who can beat Netanyahu, something he did in 1999. Netanyahu as up-and-coming is uppermost on everyone’s mind. The polls, however, indicate that Netanyahu would beat Barak handily; this is not 1999 – let us hope.
It is not clear whether Barak wants to pull out of Olmert’s coalition: he has given mixed messages on this – saying that he wants to serve in the government, that Olmert must leave, and, at one point, that he would call for new elections. It seems, however, that even as head of the party, he could not leave on his own volition but would have to bring along a potentially recalcitrant Central Committee. This remains a “wait and see” situation of considerable significance.
And Peres? This is the first election he has ever won. I wish he hadn’t, but he did, in a second round of voting. The first time, though he had a plurality, he did not have the required 61 votes. But then, in a surprise move, both Rivlin and Avital pulled out, and that was it.
I make no secret of my lack of respect for Peres. He is among those who have brought enormous damage to our state – starting with his pushing of the very flawed Oslo accords, and to this very day, as he supports elements destructive to our security. His vision of a “new Middle East” never materialized, and yet he has never acknowledged that his vision is flawed.
Both men are arrogant and self-serving, if truth be told.
In Palestinian areas, things have heated to a temperature more elevated than ever, as the following has occurred:
Two UNRWA workers have been shot in crossfire and killed; UNRWA has announced it will be cutting back services in Gaza to a bare minimum.
At least 22 supporters of Abbas have been killed by Hamas and two preventative security installations – one a headquarters – have been blown up.
Hamas has confiscated thousands of weapons and vehicles provided to Fatah over the years in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Remember General Dayton’s promise just days ago that weapons he thought should be given to Abbas’s people would not end up in Hamas hands?
Hamas has published a hit list of key Fatah leaders who have conspired with the US and Israel to bring the radical Islamist group down. Muhammad Dahlan, currently in hiding in Egypt, is at the head of the list.
Hamas has given Fatah two days to surrender in Gaza. Several key Fatah clans in Gaza have surrendered to Hamas, which is on the verge of taking Khan Yunis, a Fatah stronghold. Already north Gaza is closed to Fatah-affiliated PA security forces.
Hamas rebuffed a Fatah offer to arrange another ceasefire. Fatah pleas to fellow Arabs for help fell on deaf ears in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Reportedly, they are all tired of the Palestinians.
In other words, this is real civil war and Hamas is winning. Unless there is a radical shift in the situation, Gaza will be entirely within Hamas hands within days. This will radically change the situation, and, it would seem to me, greatly ratchet up the possibility of war this summer.
While some of the violence is extending to Judea and Samaria, the assumption being made in many quarters is that there will now be two separate Palestinian entities: A Hamas Gaza and a Fatah West Bank.
Said one Palestinian journalist wag, “The two-state solution has finally worked. All our enemies have good reason to celebrate.”
But I think my favorite quote with regard to all of this comes from the resolute leadership of Fatah, which has decided to: “suspend…participation in the national unity government until the fighting stops.” I bet Hamas leaders are quaking in their boots.
You see, even now Abbas has not pulled all the stops and declared: “There is no longer a unity government and we are declaring war on Hamas.”
If only…there would be a lesson here for the world.
See the insights and comments of the Jinsa Report on the situation in Gaza:
"…it is now abundantly clear that there are Palestinians willing to kill other Palestinians in order to create a bigger and better platform for killing Jews.
"Hamas was not formed to govern either in a coalition or by itself – its determination to take over the PLO was always prelude to using the organization to pursue its end game: the destruction of the State of Israel. To believe otherwise is delusional."
I note in particular the observation that Judea and Samaria may be saved now only through great diligence and possibly via federation with Israel or Jordan. No Palestinian state, guys.
The Shin Bet has announced that last month it caught two Palestinian women, one nine-months pregnant, at the Erez Crossing; they had been planning a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Picked up as a result of keen intelligence, they admitted being affiliated with Islamic Jihad.
Of particular note is this: They said they had exploited Israel’s humanitarian policy in permitting entrance into Israel for medical reasons, and had provided medical pretexts for gaining entry. Will everyone please remember this the next time some very biased and wrong head “human rights” organization protests that we make things too hard for the Palestinians.