There was heightened tension in the north yesterday, as Syria claimed that Israeli planes had entered Syrian airspace, breaking the sound barrier and "dropping ammunition" in desert areas; there was no claim that Israel used ammunition; Syria said that its planes "confronted" the IDF planes.
Israel had no comment, but there was a feeling that with this incident, whatever it entailed, we were being brought closer to war.
Today Syria is saying that this won’t bring war and that the planes had probably come to take photos. (In which case they wouldn’t have been breaking sound barriers, would they have?)
So things are still tense, but not to the degree that was the case yesterday.
The IDF has announced that it has everything in place and is ready for a major operation into Gaza; the forces have practiced. But at present there’s no decision on the part of the Security Cabinet or Olmert to go ahead.
Haaretz says that Chief of Staff Ashkenazi is opposed to going ahead because of tensions along the border with Syria. A major operation in Gaza would require calling up reserves, and the holiday season is before us. According to this article, senior military sources said "Israel’s position might change if a large number of casualties resulted from the Kassam fire."
The response to this by Aaron Lerner of IMRA seems a harsh indictment but is on the mark: "The IDF could act now before the Palestinians succeed in murdering a lot of Israeli civilians but that would require inconveniencing Israelis who would have to be called up to do reserve duty during the holiday season. So instead of taking the initiative – with the advantages associated with taking the initiative – it is better to give the Palestinians the opportunity to murder many Israeli civilians first."
We’ve seen this before. Jews have to die before a major action takes place: it provides a sort of "rationale" for attacking.
The major action is coming — even Barak says so now. The question is when. Waiting brings with it several risks. A pre-emptive action would not only potentially save lives, it would stop the development and smuggling of increasingly sophisticated weaponry. The longer we wait the greater their capacity to hit targets inside of Israel, and tougher the battle will be when it comes.
Haim Ramon. He was convicted recently of sexual impropriety, but not "moral turpitude.’ Sorry I cannot explain precisely what this means, but being exonerated of "moral turpitude" permitted him to rejoin the government after his conviction. And what do you know? Olmert, our fine upstanding prime minister, appointed him as vice premier. Not only that, he made the point of saying he did so because Ramon was his friend, and now the world knows that Ehud Olmert doesn’t forget his friends. Maybe not, but Olmert forgets a lot of other things, like how to protect our nation.
All of this is by way of a very angry introduction to news about what Ramon — who clearly was appointed as Olmert’s flunky — has apparently now done.
According to YNet , Ramon has met with PA Prime Minister Fayyad to hammer out principles to be brought to that Bush-inspired international conference in November. It is said that he is offering:
"an Israeli withdrawal from nearly all of the West Bank, including the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, as part of a final peace deal…the border between Israel and the future Palestinian state [would] roughly follow the route of the separation fence leaving major Israeli settlement blocs and between 3 and 8 percent of the West Bank in Israel’s hands.
"This means that Ariel and Maale Adumin [would] stay within Israeli area, while settlements like Karnei Shomron, Beit El, Ofra, the haredi of town Tel Zion and many other communities [would] be evacuated and their territory handed over to the Palestinians. (Parts of Gush Etzion would be turned over.)
"In return, Israel would cede the same amount of land [as that retained for settlement past the Green Line] inside Israel to the Palestinians." What is more, there might be a corridor between Gaza and Judea and Samaria.
"East Jerusalem [would] be divided among the two states and holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City [would] be under the control of the various religions and no national flags will be flown.
"The agreement [would]…require both sides to immediately implement stage A of the…road map: The Palestinians will disarm all armed groups in their territory, while Israel will withdraw its forces from the Palestinian towns and evacuate all illegal outposts."
What is more, according to YNet, "In his talks with the Palestinians, Ramon pledged that immediately after the agreement is signed, Israel would hand over to the Palestinian three eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, as [a] goodwill gesture."
Perhaps this most of all — the suggestion of immediately compromising of Jerusalem — makes my blood boil. A goodwill gesture??!!
As I’ve said before, it’s a long way from this sort of talk to a "done deal," and I continue to believe that deal will never come about. Palestinian Information Minister Riad Malki has denied that Ramon has even met with Fayyad or any other official. You see, the agreement doesn’t permit any "refugees" into Israel and so is something the Palestinians cannot sign off on and get support for among the people.
And if there were even the remotest insistence on compliance, it would kill the deal because the Palestinians are never going to disarm armed groups in Judea and Samaria. Didn’t we just learn that Hamas has 80,000 hidden weapons there??
But this is dangerous none-the-less. And sickening. That someone purporting to represent Israel should SUGGEST turning area over to the Palestinians when there are 80,000 weapons hidden by our enemies defies comprehension. Even someone who believes in principle that some day there should be a Palestinian state should know better. The lawyers reading this will forgive me, because I may be using the term improperly from a legal perspective, but for me, this represents morale turpitude of the worst sort. I see the hand of Bush and Rice here, big time.
I will follow this closely and make further analytical comments after Shabbat.
As Rosh Hashana approaches, I would like to share with you a link to a site for a non-profit organization called Standing Together, which provides morale support to our soldiers. You can arrange through them to send a Shana Tova card to a soldier at: http://stogether.org/cards.html or learn more about the organization at http://www.stogether.org.
As I’ve demonstrated with stories in the past, they represent some of Israel’s very finest. And letting Israel’s soldiers know you care helps them keep their morale strong. Pass this information along, please. They are delighted to hear from people outside of Israel.