Israeli West Bank Withdrawal Plan Draws Laughter
In saying that Israel intends to draw a permanent border sooner rather than later, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert aims to maintain control over three large Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with a combined population of about 70,000, and also maintain a military presence in spots along the Jordan River. Disengagement from the Palestinians would follow, in an effective turnover of the West Bank in similar fashion to the recent handover of Gaza to PA control. The maintained presence in the Jordan River Valley will be a contentious, and perhaps unwise move.
This, though long considered and not hastily prepared by any means, is likely in response to recent remarks by Hamas leaders who, when pressed to recognize Israel, rhetorically asked precisely where Israel’s borders were. Olmert did not detail or map those precise borders, but iterated that they would not be where they stand now, presumably to incorporate nearby settlements.
Hamas, through Sheikh Yasser Mansour in Nablus, number 5 on the Hamas national candidates list, laughed off Olmert’s response as far too much to ask. “If he wants to find a solution, he must accept less than what he wants,” he told The Jerusalem Post via phone. If Hamas’ founding charter is to be used as any sort of ‘road map’, much less as the charter would require Palestine be ‘from the river to the sea’.
As one works up the Hamas pecking order, there is no ambiguity in determining that the Hamas founding charter is still the guiding principle, as shown in the swift reaction from Hamas leaders currently in talks in Cairo.
Khaled Mashaal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, made that perfectly clear. “When historic Palestine is reinstated, they can come and live among us. They will have a Palestinian nationality,” And then the Jews will surely and finally live in peace, just as they do in Iran and Saudi Arabia, living comfortably among them with an Iranian or Saudi Arabian nationality.
This all transpires as Israel has stepped up operations without reservations or political considerations after coordinated Qassam rocket attacks over the weekend. The air strikes have been concentrated primarily in Gaza and focused on al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists known to be specifically involved in the manufacture of the homemade ballistics, rather than the foot soldiers who fire them. IDF artillery has hammered the launch sites regularly in what can be considered suppressing fire. The artillery barrages cause few injuries, but their mission is not to hit human targets, but rather to discourage human movement into the ‘no go zones’ Israel has established to force would-be rocket attackers to be constrained beyond the effective range of their weapons of choice. When Israel relaxes this enforcement, rocket attacks like the ones witness this past Friday result without fail or delay.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that Israel’s targeted killings worry him. The UN’s chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, reinforced Annan’s assertions, stating, “While recognizing Israel’s right to defend its citizens, targeted killings place innocent bystanders at grave risk and amount to executions without trial.”
Is there a more humane method of executing open warfare in defense of a nation’s very civilians routinely executed without trial by being stabbed aboard a bus or attacked with rockets while simply in their homes with their families? Israel possesses the power to reduce every inch of the West Bank and Gaza to rubble and pass by it once more and reduce it further to dust. Yet they do not. They use artillery barrages on empty open fields and precision guided munitions and strike cars containing known terrorists.
In light of this, it is perplexing that Israel chooses to continue to talk to Fatah at all, as most of the terrorists executing recent attacks - and therefor also on the receiving end of Israel’s military response - have been Fatah’s own al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Coupled with attacks from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it is becoming evident that Hamas is sitting back in an effort to be seen as reasonable and non-aggressive, all the while supporting at a minimum and potentially coordinating and/or directing, to some degree, the timing of attacks from other ‘non-affiliated’ groups. They all have their differences and (sometimes violent) grievances internally, and there will surely be fighting between them. But the most violent among them all will not hesitate to cooperate against a unifying force like Israel.
Inevitably, the international community will acquiesce to the conveniently peaceful appearance of non-aggressors, such as the outwardly idle Hamas. An outwardly-idle Hamas, biding their time to act while the world awaits an illusory internal reform movement, playing on our combined hope that they truly seek peace. There will soon be the calls for Israel and the rest of the world to accept Hamas at the negotiating table. The same Hamas that asserts, “When historic Palestine is reinstated, they can come and live among us. They will have a Palestinian nationality.”