Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria Wednesday, in order to “encourage resumption of peace talks with our Palestinian neighbors.”
Predictably, the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected it, because it allows Israel to finish buildings under construction and does not include Jerusalem, which PM Netanyahu correctly said “is not a settlement”.
Right-wing parties then attacked Netanyahu for “spitting in the face of those who were promised only a year ago that he would lead a change from the expulsion policies of [former Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon.” (MK Yakov Katz of the National Union party).
Certainly Netanyahu could have predicted both of these outcomes. So why did he do it? And why did his cabinet approve it?
Here’s another item:
In an effort to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the face of a potential mass prisoner swap with Hamas, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) “pardoned” over 90 wanted Fatah militiamen on Thursday on condition they refrain from engaging in terrorist activity.
Under the deal, the 92 fugitives – all members of Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing – will be allowed to move freely throughout Palestinian cities within Area A of the West Bank. One of the fugitives included in the deal is Ala Sankara, who was the Al-Aksa commander in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus…
Israel is concerned that a massive prisoner deal with Hamas would undermine Abbas and boost Hamas’s popularity on the Palestinian street ahead of general elections.
In other words, if Hamas gets more terrorists on the street than Fatah, then it will be more popular. And the government wants to support Fatah. It’s hard to see how this will help, considering that Hamas will probably get hundreds, possibly more than a thousand freed, including convicted murderers, in the coming exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. And they can claim that they did by means of ‘resistance’, not collaboration, always a plus in Palestinian circles.
(One those who may possibly be released in the trade for Shalit is Marwan Barghouti, one of the most dangerous of those in Israeli prisons. Convicted of masterminding five murders, Barghouti is also a master politician, having the potential to unite anti-Israel forces. In any Arab country (and plenty of non-Arab ones) someone like Barghouti would long since have received a bullet in the back of his neck. But in Israel he is allowed access to the media from his cell).
Back to the 92 Fatah terrorists. You can bet they aren’t wanted for jaywalking. Really, the only way that the Hamas prisoner “exchange” can be made worse is by keeping Fatah’s guerrillas on the street as well. And considering that the aims of Fatah and Hamas with regard to Israel are the same, helping either one is a poor idea.
All of these poor ideas come from the same source, the US, which alone among the participants in this farce seems to think that a peaceful Palestinian state under Fatah rule can be created which will somehow regain control of Hamas-dominated Gaza and henceforth live in peace alongside Israel. In pursuit of this mirage, we train and support Fatah’s “security forces” at the same time as we increase pressure on Israel to make more and more concessions, always “to bolster Abbas.”
Unfortunately the concessions are never enough for the PA, since it knows that if it just refuses to budge, the US will squeeze yet another one out of Israel. So why do anything?
I’ve speculated about the reason for the apparent blindness of US policymakers — whether it has something to do with Saudi-corrupted functionaries, academic ideologues in the administration, the traditional pro-Arab State Department, the influence of Barack Obama’s left-wing friends, or just plain incompetence.
Why doesn’t Israel stand up for itself? After all, the US has consistently backed down in response to pressure from North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and even the powerless PA!
The reason is that Israel needs, or believes that it needs, American help to prevent Iran from achieving its goal to get nuclear weapons. But if there is one lesson that Jews should have learned from WWII, and that Israelis should have learned from the 1967 war, it is that it is not possible to depend on third parties in critical situations.
Certainly today, when the US is weaker — both objectively and in the character of its leadership — than at any time since Israel was created, today is not the time to think that America will save Israel from her enemies.
The only option, difficult as it may seem, is for Israel to plan on the assumption that US support will not materialize, and indeed that Israel may need to act against the wishes of the US. Maybe a good place to start is by ending the charade of a ‘peace process’ that only strengthens her worst enemies.