Defense Minister Peretz has come out in favor of a formal commission of inquiry with regard to the war, which puts him in opposition to Olmert and definitely strains the coalition. Look for a great deal of political unrest in days ahead — both within the coalition and the Labor party.
Former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya’alon also thinks there should be a state commission. He made this clear in an interview he gave to the Post on Friday. But he goes even further, having come to his own conclusions regarding failures during the war: He thinks Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz, and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz should all resign.
Olmert associates says that it is Ya’alon’s own policies during the time he was Chief of Staff that were responsible for creating the conditions that led to the war. Ya’alon’s answer: That the “disengagement,” which made us look weak, created the conditions that led to Hezbollah’s readiness to attack us. During his tenure, he says, the IDF responded with strength to Hezbollah provocations and Hezbollah restrained itself.
Now… I have expressed enthusiasm about Ya’alon’s return here from the States, and his assumption of a position at the Shalem Center, where he will work on strategies for responding to the Islamicist threat. But I confess that his answer here feels insufficient to me. Perhaps, perhaps, the IDF responded with strength to Hezbollah provocations — doing brief bombing sorties or other actions when provoked. But the buildup went on — the 12,000 rockets set into bunkers. I do not hold Ya’alon responsible for this buildup. My understanding is that a major preemptive strike was never approved by the political echelon — which has the final say — because of political correctness, understandings with the international community, etc. And I wish that Ya’alon had addressed this, as well.
Sarah Honig, in her column in Friday’s Post, says that Olmert and company, in order to shift blame for what went wrong in the war, is aiming at the very people who represent the biggest political threat: Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud — who is being blamed for setting economic policy when Finance Minister that prevented military preparedness, and Moshe Ya’alon, former Chief of Staff — who is being blamed for preventing preparedness. In neither case will Olmert and company be correct.
The first significant contingent of forces for the “new, improved” UNIFIL has begun moving in to Lebanon: 1,000 Italian troops.
Spain has now decided to send 1,100 troops as well.
In a reversal of previous a position, Israel has now accepted the idea of Indonesian troops in UNIFIL, while remaining opposed to troops from Malaysia and Bangladesh. The reason, it has been explained, is that Malaysia and Bangladesh were overtly pro-Hezbollah during the war, while Indonesia, with whom Israel has had some “quiet diplomatic activity,” was not. Originally Olmert objected to use of forces from any nation that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Indonesia says it will send up to 1,000 troops by the end of the month. It is not my impression that Malaysia and Bangladesh are necessarily closed out of participation because of Israel’s continued objections — as Israel does not have veto power and Kofi Annan was predisposed to including them. There is reportedly some feeling that Muslim troops should be included so the UNIFIL forces don’t appear to be on a crusade against the Muslim world.
Turkey, which wants no part in disarming Hezbollah, will cooperate by training Lebanese troops and helping to patrol the Mediterranean to prevent arms smuggling.
In a joint operation, Shin Bet and Israeli Border Police have arrested two Tanzim (Fatah) leaders in the Tulkarm area who were reportedly planning to build rockets to be fired at Israeli cities. A large cache of weapons was uncovered when they were arrested.
Kofi Annan has gone to visit Syrian president Bashar Assad and has come away with assurances from Assad that Syria will enforce the embargo on arms to Hezbollah. It will increase border patrols to stop the flow of arms.
And I’m the queen of England.
Remember that the rockets and weapons that have come to Hezbollah to date have either traveled from Iran via Syria, or come directly from Syria — and in both instances with official Syrian knowledge and blessings. This is not a renegade operation that we are talking about.
Why is Syria promising this? Because Assad objects strenuously (a “hostile” affront, he calls it) to international forces at his border?
Have I got this right? Syrian border patrols to stop Syrian arms smuggling?
Both Hezbollah and Hamas, who are holding Israeli kidnapped soldiers, have refused to allow them visitation by the Red Cross or even allowed them to write letters to their families. In spite of this, Ze’ev Schiff writes in Haaretz, Israel is permitting the visitation of Hamas prisoners by their families, and declined to block the return of Lebanese refugees to south Lebanon, even though these acts might apply pressure. We are ever so humanitarian and kind — but we are not doing a whole lot to help our captured soldiers. These are political decisions, that run contrary to IDF recommendations.
This posting can be found at: http://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/9/3/posted-s