It made the news today that Olmert is dubious as to whether a ceasefire will work. However, he’s willing to let the process play out because of his respect for Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief and the negotiator in the matter.
A splendid reason , is it not?
If quiet comes, it will , as I indicated yesterday, be of an informal nature and follow a progression. We’ll stop attacking them if they stop launching rockets. Apparently the release of Shalit would not be made formally part of an agreement (which is what our demand was only days ago), but there would presumably be an understanding that negotiations on Shalit would accelerate after the quiet was in place. If this happened, then Israel would lift the siege.
Israel is also, according to Haaretz , demanding that "Hamas cease smuggling weapons, funds and persons trained in paramilitary activities." This is a joke, as I have not noticed of late that Hamas is a reliable organization that will honor commitments in this respect. There is not the slightest doubt that smuggling will continue as they can get away with it. Only the most stringent monitoring and policing of the situation would intervene.
What we’re hearing is that the Egyptians said they will "step up efforts."
Now Egypt will be consulting in Cairo with a delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzuk, deputy head of the Hamas’s political bureau, to see if they’re willing to go along. As they’re hurting badly, they will likely agree.
But we should not ignore the words of Osama Hamdan , a senior Hamas official in Lebanon, that we are mistaken if we think a truce with Hamas would mean that the "resistance operations" would end. That very attitude is what makes it obvious that they will continue smuggling to the best of their ability.
A word of explanation : What we will have, if Hamas agrees to terms, is a tahdiyeh, which is a period of calm, as compared to a hudna, which is a formal ceasefire agreement.
It should be noted, as well, that this tahdiyeh would not apply to Judea and Samaria, where we would continue anti-terrorist operations.
It should also be noted that Haim Ramon , deputy prime minister, yesterday charged that the government was secretly negotiating directly with Hamas despite government policy that prohibits such contact until Hamas recognizes Israel, renounces terrorism, and agrees to abide by former agreements. There has been no official statement refuting this, and the guess is that he knows exactly what he’s talking about.
Well, that was fast…
Earlier today Army Radio here in Israel cited an unnamed top Israeli official as saying that behind closed doors a senior member of the Bush entourage here last week had said that Bush and Cheney favored military action against Iran but were holding back because of "the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."
Makes one wonder exactly how much damage Rice is capable of.
This story was picked up by The Jerusalem Post and circulated widely. Reportedly, Hezbollah’s actions in Lebanon of late — clearly instigated by Iran — reinforced the inclination within the US administration to attack. Bush was said to be of the opinion that "the disease must be treated – not its symptoms."
But now Bush has moved to squash this report , which probably should never have seen the light of day.
A statement has been released saying that "[the US] remain[s] opposed to Iran’s ambitions to obtain a nuclear weapon. To that end, we are working to bring tough diplomatic and economic pressure on the Iranians to get them to change their behavior and to halt their uranium enrichment program.
"As the President has said, no president of the United States should ever take options off the table, but our preference and our actions for dealing with this matter remain through peaceful diplomatic means. Nothing has changed in that regard."
I’m going to make a guess here and say that there was truth in the report from Army Radio but that Bush would rather not publicly appear to be going the military route or to be at odds with members of his administration. He has taken no options off the table and his months in office are limited.
Let’s give him the encouragement that might help move him in the right direction: I ask you to contact the president.
In a brief and to-the-point message let him know that you support him in taking all necessary measures to stop Iran from going nuclear — that the world now depends on his courage to act as necessary — that you know he understands that Iran absolutely cannot be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons.
As a final reinforcement, let him know that his preventing the disaster of a nuclear Iran will be a blessing to all the world and absolutely the greatest legacy of his presidency.
Use your own words , please.
Remember that a phone call or fax is best.
As always, numbers count, so please ask everyone you can to participate here.
President George Bush
White House Comment line: 202-456-1111 TTY/TDD Comment line: 202-456-6213
A rare moment of truth. Palestinian Media Watch has provided a translation of a piece written by Palestinian journalist Jawad Al Bashiti inAl-Ayyam on May 13, 2008, with reference to "Nakba" — the "catastrophe" of the founding of Israel, which is allegedly responsible for the refugee situation.
"The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our Catastrophes today. During…the Palestinian Catastrophe the following happened: the first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the ‘Arab Salvation Army’ came and told the Palestinians: ‘We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission [to destroy Israel] in the best way and so you won’t be hurt.’ It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states was a big illusion. Arabs fought as if intending to cause the ‘Palestinian Catastrophe.’"
This refutes charges that Jews forced Arabs out of the land.
A terrorist attack of major proportions was averted today when a Palestinian going through a checkpoint was found to have four pipe bombs on his person. He was shot dead when he attempted to detonate them.
Evidence, once again, of the need for checkpoints. The checkpoint where this happened — Hawara — is one where there have been multiple incidents.
At the northern end of our border with Gaza , the IDF caught gunmen attempting to plant explosives at the fence, and took them down.
The police have announced that Olmert will be questioned again on Friday.