I would like to begin with some enlightening material regarding the al-Dura case, for we are dealing here with a pattern of inaccuracies in reporting news about the Palestinians — either because major news outlets are naive in trusting what their Palestinian stringers tell them, or because they run information even when it is clear to them (or should be) that inaccuracies exist.
Dr. Richard Landes, Professor of History at Boston University, has done groundbreaking work in researching and exposing the construction of these deliberate inaccuracies; it is he who coined the term "Pallywood."
The first link below is to a video done before the appeals court decision was released in which Landes describes what is going on, and the second is after the decision.
As to other "confusion" taking place here:
Amos Gilad returned from Egyptian mediated negotiations on a ceasefire with Hamas totally empty-handed. Israeli officials say there has been no breakthrough on any of the major issues. Hamas will not agree to include the release of Shalit in the deal or to stop smuggling of arms.
One might think that this would move us, finally, to call it quits. But that is not the case: Instead the government is "suspending" any plans for a major operation in Gaza, waiting apparently to see what else develops, as Suleiman is still trying.
Said Barak at a Labor meeting:
"If, indeed, a calm emerges, then we will have to examine it according to what it entails and what its results are. And our demand could not be clearer – there can be no attacks. I say to all those who are pushing for a speedy operation: Think before you act."
Speedy operation??! This has been dragging on for months.
Meanwhile, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, in his weekly report to the Cabinet yesterday, warned that time is on Hamas’s side. Already the terrorist group has smuggled in sophisticated Iranian weapons that might reach as far as Ashdod or Kiryat Gat.
He said that Israel had to act fast, because "as time goes on, a military operation will cost…more casualties…
"There has been cooperation between Hamas and Iran. Time favors Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations, and the threat on the State of Israel is steadily rising."
Diskin remains convinced that the chances for a truce are low. But "the Egyptians want very much to bring a truce into being. They fear a mass breakout into Egypt and [want] to keep their hegemony as a mediator. Hamas is interested in a truce but does not accept Israel’s terms. They are emphasizing the removal of the siege and buying time."
Hamas, he said, will demand that Egypt open Rafah if the negotiations fail.
Reason enough to explain why Suleiman is working so hard.
Olmert offered some "reassuring" words, as is his practice, saying: "…things are nearing a decisive point."
Have we not heard this before?
Because Israel "wants peace and security both in the short run and in the long run," he explained (thereby indirectly addressing critics who accuse the government of being myopic), "we will have to make decisions."
And wait! He said more : "If this…is not reached through Egyptian mediation, we will have to [use other] means. The government has nothing more important than securing its residents’ safety. Both I and the defense officials are losing sleep over this issue."
Yes, undoubtedly he loses sleep over this issue…
Shaul Mofaz, former Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, is currently one of those in Kadima coming out strongest for a military response, as he demanded action to regain deterrence in Gaza. "We must be the ones setting Israel’s agenda – not the terror organizations," he said on Army Radio.
Many people were angered by the order of Major-General Yosef Mishlav, the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories, to pull soldiers away from the Erez Crossing, in the wake of the truck bombing at Erez just days ago. In what MK Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP) referred to as a "cowardly act," soldiers of the Coordination and Liaison Authority, who had been near the Erez were "temporarily" moved to the Julis base 17 kilometers away.
Some of the harshest criticism of this decision came from within the IDF. Said one army officer:
"[This] is an admission of our failure to protect the lives of our citizens and soldiers. The army… should be at the front and serve as a buffer between the enemy and our civilian population. It is wrong to evacuate them because of a threat. What will the residents of Netiv Ha’asara, who live near the base, say? They will justifiably demand that the State evacuate them as well."
"Theoretically and realistically , Israel can get along without [former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.] Dan Halutz," intoned MK Arye Eldad (NU/NR) after Shabbat.
He was mocking a statement made by Halutz: "The thought of ceding the Golan Heights gives me a bellyache, but for real peace one must be willing to pay a real price. Theoretically, Israel can do without the Golan."
Explained Eldad, "Israel must pay heed, and do something if it doesn’t want to return to the failures of the Second Lebanon War. In that war, Halutz was exposed as someone who does not understand anything of the basic principles of war, and accordingly Israel saw that it didn’t need his advice."
But, in the face of vast confusion, Olmert’s talk about proceeding with the negotiations with Syria persists.
Iranian officials, who were greatly irked by Israel’s demands that Syria cut Iranian connections, have gone out of their way to emphasize their strength: Iran’s foreign minister is referring to "strategic ties" with Syria.
Those who imagine that Assad will break that connection totally in order to regain the Golan are dreaming.
This was made clear even in a Damascus-run newspaper on Saturday, when an editorial (that reflects government policy) said that Syria’s relationships with other nations were not on the table and that there were no preconditions (by which was meant imposed on them).
Of additional concern is the fact that Syria is stalling on permitting representatives of the International Atomic Energy Commission to visit the site where a reactor was allegedly bombed by Israel.
And Barak, even though he really recognizes the realities, persists in dreaming anyway:
At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, he explained that, "The Syrians have a different agenda than Israel," and that peace is not their priority.
Assad’s priorities are: survival of his regime; getting the international tribunal into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri canceled (as that is expected to poin
t an accusatory finger at the highest echelons of the Syrian government); securing a "special status" for Syria in Lebanon; and getting into the good graces of the US and the West.
Yet, said Barak, Israel should try to pull Syria from the orbit of Iran, even though efforts will have to be complicated and lengthy.
What he fails to perceive (or willfully ignores) is the vast likelihood that if Syria does pursue negotiations it is not out of a desire for peace, but rather an attempt to achieve those priorities listed above.
Within the coalition, there is from my perspective no one more hypocritical with regard to negotiations with Syria than MK Eli Yishai, head of the Shas faction. Meeting yesterday with representatives of communities in the Golan, he delivered a promise to stand by them in their efforts to prevent their evacuation from the Golan.
What unmitigated nonsense! If he wanted to help them prevent this, he should withdraw from the coalition and make it difficult or impossible for the government to proceed. But then, a new government might not continue with the building of those housing units that Olmert has promised him. And so he settles for words regarding not abandoning Israel’s security to Syria.
Minister Shaul Mofaz was also at that meeting. His response, designed to reassure, was fairly ludicrous. It’s wrong to turn the Golan over to Syria now, he declared, as this would be tantamount to giving it to Iran. So, we need creative solutions, such as giving the Golan to Syria but leasing it for 25 years so our people can stay there for now.
There are unsubstantiated reports — coming from Palestinians close to those doing the negotiations — that Israel is now offering a withdrawal from all but 8.5% of Judea and Samaria (with control of Jerusalem not yet discussed). This would be less than the 12% Israel had reportedly sought to hold on to previously, but more than the Palestinians find acceptable.
Abbas has just told a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council that there has been no progress in the negotiations since the beginning.
Talansky has been questioned again, prior to his forthcoming court testimony that is scheduled for tomorrow. Olmert’s lawyers will cross-examine him subsequently — precisely when is unclear. Talansky, who is very restive and eager to return to the US, has had the hold on his travel extended until the testimony is given. There is now talk about allowing him to go, as he is scheduled to return for the wedding of his grandson on June 11.
The rumors keep flying: NY State Assemblyman Dov Hilkind says he saw Olmert, when he was mayor, receive envelopes of cash. Talansky’s driver said he transported cash for Olmert. On it goes. There was a leak indicating that an indictment would be served by the end of the summer, and then that was quickly denied.