Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, reported to the Cabinet yesterday that the smuggling of weapons from Egypt to Gaza is increasing. Egypt, I remind you, in case you have forgotten, has a peace treaty with Israel. This serves as a signal lesson with regard to Syria, who, on alternate days of the week, is now courting a “peace” deal with Israel. Where intent is absent, the piece of paper and verbal declarations are pointless, serving only to disarm defenses and gain international credibility.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter (of recent “give Golan to Syria during a peace negotiation” fame) says we should pressure Egypt in every way we can, going to the US and the EU. Then, he said, we should consider complaining to the Security Council about this. The Security Council! Boy, that will really fix Egypt!
The real problem lies with the fact that we surrendered all control at the border between Egypt and Gaza in the course of the Rafah agreement that Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice shoved down our throats (against the advice of many of our security people) following the “disengagement.” Nineteen tons of explosives have entered Gaza since that pullout (four tons in the last six weeks), to be used to upgrade Kassams, which are still being launched regularly.
PM Minister Olmert, who is not happy with the fact of the smuggling, wants to tone down criticism of Egypt because of that country’s efforts to secure the release of Gilad Shalit. Rice is expecting to visit here again soon, and Olmert says he will raise the issue with her.
While we are on the subject of Egypt, there is this: Abbas, frustrated with Hamas regarding formation of a unity government, is turning to Egypt. He is going to Cairo for talks and will ask Mubarek to support a unity government and get Hamas to soften its stand. Do we have this straight? Egypt, which, at a minimum, is turning a blind eye towards the movement of more and more weapons to Hamas in Gaza, is going to get Hamas to “moderate.”
Of course it is actually Fatah that keeps “softening its position,” metaphorically speaking. They keep backing down from their demands in order to make the situation more palatable to Hamas, which is calling the shots. Abbas, you see, seeks the appearance of a moderated unity government in the hopes of securing international funds. As long as Hamas is obstinate, he’s stuck.
Abbas’s media adviser, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, yesterday said it was time for Hamas to take a clear position. “We’re not asking Hamas to recognize Israel,” he explained. “All we’re saying is that they must honor all the previous agreements so that we could end the international sanctions.”
But wait! Abbas had promised Bush that any unity government would recognize Israel. And the Quartet, at least nominally, is demanding that recognition before sanctions are removed. What are the odds that the Quartet will back down, in order to “strengthen Abbas”?
What Abbas is looking for is Hamas agreement to go with the Saudi peace plan, which would definitely lend the aura of increased moderation. But “aura” is the key word here. That plan, sanctioned by the Arab League, would promote “right of return,” Israeli withdrawal to pre-’67 borders, and more that is destructive to Israel. Hamas can say they want “right of return,” a Palestinian state within ’67 borders, etc. without actually saying that Israel has a right to exist. That’s the game. Watch it.
Talks between the IDF and UNIFIL and the Lebanese army have broken down. One IDF source says the IDF will stay in Lebanon until UNIFIL “[takes] its job seriously.” A high ranking IDF officer, quoted by the Post, elaborated further: “We told UNIFIL that we plan to pull our troops out of Lebanon by Yom Kippur, although we haven’t committed to a specific year.” Looks like we’re there for the long haul.
Secretary of State Rice has weighed in on this issue following a report by The New York Times that UNIFIL has not instituted checkpoints or searches because the Lebanese army hasn’t approved this. UNIFIL has all the authority it needs to do the job, she said. “But of course it’s all a matter of interpretation.”
That’s enormously helpful, coming from the woman who promoted this “diplomatic solution” to the Lebanese war and insisted there had to be a resolution that wouldn’t allow return to the status quo ante.
What we’re seeing is that UNIFIL, which could act, prefers to pass the buck. And the Lebanese army, which is where the buck stops, has no desire to act decisively against Hezbollah.
Remember the 23 Hamas members of the PA government — ministers and parliamentarians — that Israel detained after the kidnapping of Shalit? Two weeks ago a court ruled they could be released on bail, and this was seen as the first step in a prison trade that would secure Shalit’s release. The prosecution then appealed and a decision was made by two military courts that they continue to be detained, because their membership in Hamas presents a danger to Israel.
Well… the most senior member of this group — Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer — was ordered released yesterday. He cannot go into Ramallah, where the PA government offices are located, and cannot leave the PA administered areas. The expectation now is that others in this group will be released and following this some prisoners — as “confidence building measures” to help secure Shalit’s release.
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