Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gaza schmaza!

I'm still having difficulties wrapping my head around the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Now, W. meets with Ehud Olmert and says the both of them are going to help out Fatah in the West Bank. Olmert says to W., "like you, I want to strengthen the moderates," but that's not to say he's exactly on the same page with W.'s great new plan to shower Abbas and Fatah with military aid. If the interview he did in the NYT is any indication, he's not too hip on the plan to give Palestinians, no matter how moderate, a ton of weapons.

He told the Times: "Everyone says help the moderates and provide them with weapons. But it’s another thing to ask yourself, if I’m going to give weapons and these weapons are going to be taken by Hamas, what am I doing?"

[The same could probably be said about the new idea of arming the anti-al-Qaeda Sunni tribes in Iraq, too, but that's another rant.]

Whereas W. is talking about Abu Mazan being a "good fella" Olmert is talking about "making sure there is security for the Israeli people." W.'s pledge to help Israel out with another 10-year military agreement will probably smooth over Olmert's total distain for Abbas' ability to actually govern -- for a little while -- but W. & Co. shouldn't get the idea that Israel is going to play ball just because they're getting a few more billions worth of cluster bombs and "precision-guided" munitions.

If I'm the Israelis right now, I've got to be thinking our good friends the Americans are totally responsible for the mess that's sitting on their doorstep right now.

Kevin Peraino in Newsweek reports:

"In a confidential report leaked last week, United Nations envoy Alvaro de Soto wrote that 'the U.S. clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas.' De Soto recounts listening to a U.S. official declare 'I like this violence' [Elliot Abrahams, perhaps?] twice at an envoy's meeting in Washington recently."

Despite Sean McCormick's dismissal of de Soto's summation of the situation as "the views of an individual," to me it rings absolutely true. Didn't John Bolton just say recently that he was "damn proud" of the U.S. deciding to sit back and allow Israel and Hezbollah duke it out, regardless of the tens of thousands of casualties Israel's air bombardment was causing? Condi kept insisting to our increasingly horrified allies that she was doing everything possible to arrange an "enduring ceasefire," but we now know she was just lying through her teeth.

And it was W.'s and Condis' insistence on holding elections in the first instance that led to Hamas coming to power, despite Israel's and Abu Mazan's loud objections. And arming Fatah has not only resulted in the showdown made inevitable by that flow of arms, which Fatah just lost in spectacular fashion, but has also, as Olmert pointed out, left Hamas swimming in shinny new American made weapons.

Why on earth would the Israelis go along with anything this bunch has to say now? My God, just look at Gaza -- to say nothing of Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq!

Of course, as much as I understand Israel's reluctance to go along with anything W. & Co. are proposing they're proscription for dealing with Hamas in Gaza is both totally predictable and just as counterproductive. The Newsweek cover story this week:

Ephraim Sneh, Israel's deputy defense minister says:

"'There's no common ground [with Hamas]' . . . Dialogue, he says, is almost certainly a nonstarter.' Listen to them, for God's sake! Gaza will be worse than Mogadishu. Our Apache [helicopter gunships] will talk to them.'"

That'll work out well, as it always does. Trying to pin the humanitarian disaster that's coming exclusively on Hamas will be a little trickier than usual, but that's what AIPAC is for, right?

Next stop: The West Bank:

AP reports today that:

"A senior Hamas leader said the group had been had recruited about 4,000 gunmen and had thousands of weapons. He said that when the signal comes to act, Hamas would carry out car bombings and try to assassinate Fatah leaders to destabilize the West Bank."

And, in a not very reassuring sign: "Yesterday, civilian cars were banned from security headquarters in the territory amid concerns about car bombs."

Fatah lawmaker Kamal Abu Rob can claim that, "The only way to deal with Hamas . . . is by dismantling every single military cell in the West Bank, and that's what the security apparatus is doing now," but he's missing the point that the very same, much better armed, security apparatus just got their asses handed to them by a bunch of raving lunatics. Call me crazy, but I haven't seen anything from Fatah in either the political realm or the in military arena that makes me think they have any ability to deal with Hamas, regardless of how much money W. throws at them.

It's been over a year and a half since the US and EU imposed sanctions on the PA and the Palestinians haven't appeared to have learned their lesson. As the Economist pointed out in an Op-Ed last week, Hamas, "Cannot be bludgeoned out of the equation. It represents a good chunk of Palestinians; some 44% of them across the two Palestinian territories voted for it. . . There is no sign that the Palestinians as a whole are turning against Hamas -" But hopefully -- "Most Palestinians, notably including even most who voted for Hamas, want a two-state solution in which a sovereign Palestinian state and a secure Israel one must co-exist side by side. Hamas knows it cannot ignore that view."

So, put it that way, I guess there's some hope. But then again . . .

This just in:


"Israel fired missiles and sent tanks on a foray into Gaza on Wednesday, killing four Palestinians in the deadliest military action since Hamas militants took control of the coastal strip."

Condi has a solution, though: "We're laying the foundations for someone else to succeed in the future, and I think that's fine."


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