We had our first rain of the season tonight . Short, but not sprinkles — a true torrential downpour. In this part of the world this is counted as a bracha, a blessing. We haven’t seen rain since last spring and it’s been a very hot summer. May we have a very wet winter and may this be the beginning of many blessings for our country.
Although I wish it were true , I don’t count it seriously. At this point it’s simply a typical ploy. Abbas told reporters today, after his meeting with Rice, that:
"We can’t waste more time. We can’t go the conference at any price. This is unacceptable."
While this would be really good news (even if we would be blamed for the failure of the conference), another "top PA official" is quoted as saying, "I doubt if we will go the conference. The Americans and Israelis are not serious. We don’t want to make fools out of ourselves."
"I doubt" is not quite the same as "we can’t go at any price." What we’re seeing is a threat. I forget how many times over the last few years Abbas said he was quitting, because things weren’t going his way. By saying this Abbas is hoping that Rice will panic and put more pressure on Israel. This is made clear by something else he said to the reporters. He told them that he complained to Rice that there was not enough time to work things out before the conference: "We must exploit every second from now and until the conference."
But wait! If he’s definitely not going, what difference does it make how much time is left before the conference?
The definitive position was set forth by Abbas aide, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, who said "the credibility of the US administration depends on the pressure that it is willing to exert on Israel."
You like that? One might hope that the Americans have the smarts to take umbrage at that.
So, all we can conclude with any certainty at this point is that Abbas is really unhappy with the current situation. If this ploy fails, perhaps indeed he won’t come.
While we’re at it, allow me to quote Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who now maintains that a final deal should be concluded before US election campaigning gets into high gear next summer.
"After that, all the US will be busy with the election in the US."
With regard to the conference , we have negative assessments of its prospects from all quarters. This is no one I’m encountering — with the exception of Rice herself — who speaks in glowing terms of the possibilities.
Four members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee are in Washington this week, where they met yesterday with US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nick Burns and Deputy National Security Advisor Jim Jeffrey. And from different sides of the political spectrum they delivered similar messages. MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) said that the Americans were "creating a situation wherein failure in Annapolis may lead to disaster." While MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said the Americans are ignoring the realities on the ground. The US, he claimed, is "playing with fire when it comes to Jerusalem. It’s difficult enough as it is to control the city, there are constant attempts to turn the Temple Mount into ground zero for all religious wars. Israeli control over East Jerusalem is the only thing preventing a bloodbath and religious war that could ignite the entire Muslim world."
I hope someone there was listening.
And this is interesting: Extreme leftist Meir Margalit wrote an op-ed in Haaretz today, called "They depend on us." He says that east Jerusalem could become another Gaza if those neighborhoods become part of the PA and Israel cuts off benefits it currently provides. According to his math, Israel expends on the Arabs of these neighborhoods something like 500 million NIS annually for health benefits, pensions, and other forms of assistance.
Claims Margalit, either Israel or the international community would have to foot this bill or there would be a humanitarian crisis.
Israel foot the bill? This guy wants it both ways, doesn’t he? We should give them a state, but continue to take care of them. The fact that he could say this is indicative of some very fuzzy thinking.
This leads us to an article in the Globe and Mail in Canada, which describes the desire of some Palestinians who live on the municipal fringe of Jerusalem to stay within Israeli control.
"If there was a referendum here , no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority," said one Nabil Gheit. "We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA."
No further comment is necessary.
I would like to call attention to a piece by Dr. Martin Sherman — academic director of the Jerusalem Summit — in YNet, "Conquer or Capitulate." Says Sherman, we have no choice. The Palestinians cannot be reasoned with and cannot be dissuaded from further attacks on us by moderate military operations. We either surrender to them, and give up our Zionist dream, or we re-take the areas that had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority, dismantle all infrastructures put in place by Oslo, and reinstate Israeli sovereignty.
He’s got it right.
At a White House press conference President Bush has made a statement that I see as possibly significant. A nuclear Iran, he warned, could lead to WWIII.
Tough words, meant to be so, I hope.
In an operation in Nablus (Shechem) yesterday, the IDF uncovered two weaponry caches in a civilian home, and arrested two terrorists, one of whom was planning a suicide attack.
During an IDF operation aimed at cleaning out terrorist infrastructure in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, there was heavy exchange of gunfire with members of Hamas, and a 20-year old member of the Golani Brigades, Sgt. Ben Kubani, was shot and killed. There have been a series of such operations — almost on a daily basis — aimed at preventing attacks on civilian population.
Now Public Security Minister Avi Dichter is calling for a major military operation into Gaza. "We can either send the army into the Palestinian territories or face suicide belts in Tel Aviv."