Prime Minister Olmert told the cabinet Sunday: “We and the international community know that Gilad [Shalit] is being held by a bloodthirsty gang of terrorists who are causing us much suffering but who are mainly hurting the Palestinian population, which is bearing the results of this terrorist activity….I have instructed the security establishment and the IDF to increase the strength of their actions in order to pursue these terrorists, those who dispatch them, their ideologues, and those who sponsor them. As I said, nobody will be exempt….We have no intention of capitulating to blackmail. Everyone knows that capitulating to terrorism today means inviting the next act of terrorism. We will not do this.” (Prime Minister’s Office)
Minister of National Infrastructure (Labor) Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, told Galei Tzahal (Army) Radio early Monday morning that “security prisoners” would not be released by Israel in exchange for the release of captured IDF soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.
Commenting on the current situation and state of warfare between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Ben-Eliezer added “we do not have a problem with the Palestinians, just with their leadership.”
The reality beind closed doors seems to project something very different from the “tough talk” and media spin. It appears that we find ourselves in another of these Israeli Poli-speak syndromes such as are sampled below and which have grown repetitive. meaningless, distateful and monotonous when they are not followd by actions matching the “tough talk (sic)”;
- Rabin, as Defense Minister under Shamir during the Intifada:
“We’ll break their bones” and a similar quote.
- Rabin on the Golan Heights; “Withdrawal from the Golan is unthinkable, even in times of peace. Anyone considering withdrawal from the Golan Heights would be abandoning Israel’s security.”
- Sharon on Gush Katif; “And Prime Minister Sharon himself said in 2002 that Netzarim (one of the Jewish communities in Gush Katif) is the same as Tel Aviv …”
Unless COS Halutz, DM Peretz, PM Olmert and the rest of the team are engaged in a perfectly choreographed operation to trick the Palestinians into dropping their guard it would appear that instead the team is preparing the Israeli public for a prisoner exchange with the Qassams continuing to rain down until one manages to kill enough people that action might be taken – or not.
No. Israel won’t trade Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shalit. But what if a week or two after Shalit’s return Israel should decide – in a move to bolster Mahmoud Abbas’ status – to release hundred of prisoners with this having absolutely nothing to do with the return of Shalit? (wink wink).
That’s the plan that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been trying to work out. And Israel is praising him for his efforts. The catch appears to be that Hamas doesn’t want to rely on Mubarak’s guaranty that Israel will fulfill their side of the bargain.
With COS Halutz saying that IDF operations alone can’t free Shalit, DM
Peretz explaining that there is no “magic solution” to fighting terror and the assessment carefully leaked from the meeting of the Olmert Government that the whole mess could take months to resolve, Israel sends a clear message to Hamas that it is, indeed, preparing the public to accept a prisoner exchange – subject of course to it being carried out under a face-saving label.
Yes, DM Peretz fired off yet another 3 ton warning – saying that Israel considers all the Hamas leadership to be fair game. But with Israel Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy proudly explaining that even a terrorist about to fire a Qassam won’t be stopped if he holds his son’s hand while he launches the rocket, the Hamas leadership hardly has a reason to fear as long as they keep a child or two within arm’s reach.
How did this happen? How did Israel lose its momentum?
It isn’t just that PM Olmert and DM Peretz are no longer able to procreate.
Part of the problem is that Olmert, Peretz and many of the professionals involved in handling the situation genuinely believe that retreat to the ’67 border would herald an era of peace and tranquility. The problem isn’t the Arabs but instead the Israeli public that must be taught, step-by-step, that all alternatives to full retreat are futile.
Yes, Hamas says they won’t accept such an Israeli retreat. Yes, the
National Conciliation Document makes it clear that both Fatah and Hamas insist on destroying Israel via the exercise of the right of return. But the retreat to the ’67 border crowd is convinced that they know better than the Arabs. Even if the retreat initially promises only a few months of quiet, they argue, the Palestinians will be overwhelmed with joy with their new situation during the lull andabandon their demands as they channel all their energies into building the new Palestinian state.
Or so the argument goes.
Given that the team is ambivalent about the importance of an Israeli victory in this episode, they then readily embrace the favorite excuse for a lack of intestinal fortitude: fear of sanctions.
The spinners in the Olmert team set up this situation by first making it known that Israel can only act if Uncle Sam gives the nod, thus making it clear to Washington that it should pressure the Jewish State not to act decisively as the White House may find itself sharing the blame in Arab eyes.
It was then only a matter of time before the fear of UN sanctions would be raised by those in the know to justify inaction.
But does Israel really risk sanctions any more than it did when it carried out Operation Defensive Shield (which included a media circus over the Jenin “massacre”)?
With elections coming up in November would the Bush administration really not impose a veto at the UN if Israel took the kind of decisive action that many Americans are frankly puzzled Israel isn’t carrying out already given the circumstances?
No. It simply isn’t true that Israel needs to be able to show rows of
bodies shredded by a Qassam hit in order to “sell” decisive action to the American public.
And if the Olmert team honestly feels that that is the case, then they are in the wrong profession.