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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Terrorist release part of plan to withdraw IDF from Judea and Samaria?

DEBKA has a post this evening that if it turns out to be true ought to lead to Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert being tried for treason for putting American interests (or more precisely the interests of the Bush administration) ahead of Israel's national security. The problem is that parts of this story have already been confirmed and the rest sounds all too plausible.

DEBKA claims that the release of 256 'Palestinian' terrorists and the immunity granted to some 178 other terrorists who turned in their weapons with a lot of fanfare is actually the first stage in a plan that is designed to allow Hamas and Fatah to reconcile by withdrawing IDF troops from Judea and Samaria. The article reads like a conspiracy theory. The problem is that it has elements that I can already confirm are true.
Last week, Olmert announced 250 jailed Palestinians, excluding Hamas gunmen, would be released as a gesture of support for the Palestinian leader. In another gesture, Palestinian Liberation Organization faction leaders - all radicals and including at least one master-terrorist fugitive - will be allowed to travel to Ramallah. [The one 'master-terrorist would be Hawatmeh or Kaddumi. While Hawatmeh has backed out of coming, I have not heard anything indicating that Kaddumi is not coming. CiJ]

Sunday, the first of the 178 wanted Palestinian terrorists, including 150 of the violent Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, paraded the handing over of their weapons and signing of pledges of non-violence. The gunmen exited the show armed with nothing more than cell phones for the benefit of television cameras. They did not display the money in their pockets, around $6 million of Israeli cash. Each Palestinian gunman was paid up to IS.100,000 ($24,000) for surrendering his sidearm out of the tax funds Israel released to Fatah prime minister Salim Fayyad. [Caroline Glick confirmed this. CiJ]

For this price, the 178 and certainly none of the 2,500 al Aqsa members, were required to give up their caches of explosives, roadside bombs, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades. [I pointed this out earlier in the week. CiJ] That was left for the second stage and will entail a much higher ransom.

Washington sees nothing amiss in making Israel pay through the nose to terrorists. After all, the US is spending good Saudi cash to win the support of Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq.

In Israel’s long experience however Palestinian terrorists never stay bought. Already DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources report that the “disarmed” al Aqsa gunmen are getting ready for more monetary demands, failing which attacks will be resumed. Their pretext will come out pat: Israel is reneging on their immunity deal.

The direction Washington is forcing on Israel is betrayed by a telltale anomaly. Three days before the group of terrorists handed in their weapons, Israel forces halted the pursuit of all wanted terrorists on the West Bank. Officially, only these Fatah terrorists were granted a three-month amnesty on probation, so why did the IDF give up hunting Hamas, Jihad Islami and Palestinian radical Front gunmen as well? After all, the object of the amnesty exercise designed in Washington was presented as necessary to bolster and arm Mahmoud Abbas’ Ramallah-based Fatah government against those very rivals. [Caroline Glick asked this question too:
In anticipation of the formalization of the agreement at the Olmert-Abbas meeting yesterday, the IDF ended its nightly raids in Judea and Samaria for the first time in five years. Those raids, in which thousands of terrorists were apprehended in their sleep and their networks disrupted, were the main reason that Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Netanya and Hadera have been able to sleep in a modicum of safety for the past three years.

It is these raids, rather than Abbas's vaunted efforts to strengthen the so-called peace camp in Palestinian society or the security fence that have prevented suicide bombers from entering Israeli cities with any frequency.

SATURDAY the IDF's General Staff ordered Central Command to receive prior General Staff approval for any such raids in the future. By taking the ability to fight terrorists away from the commanders in the field, the General Staff essentially made fighting terrorists off limits for IDF forces in Judea and Samaria. That is, without officially announcing it, Israel has agreed to Abbas's demand that it extend its "unilateral cease-fire" in Gaza (which existed until Hamas rose to power last month), to Judea and Samaria.
From here on is where things get dicey
. CiJ]

To explain this, DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose another concealed element of the plan.

In the interests of the maneuver, the Fatah al Aqsa Brigades secretly incorporated armed Hamas and Jihad Islami adherents, boosting their number to 4.500 [I've said many times that terrorists change organizations like we change socks. CiJ]. Olmert, Barak, Gen. Dayton and Abbas himself played along with misrepresenting the amnesty as applying only to 178 Fatah members in order to make it more palatable in the US and Israel and open the way for stage three of the master plan. After they took the pledge, the remaining 4,320 are still armed to the teeth.

Thousands of Fatah will now don fresh uniforms and join up with the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, purportedly to fight radical terrorists and quell violence. Their main incentive for pretending to go straight is a regular wage, presenting Israel with a monthly bill running into many millions of shekels.

They are also demanding a prestige boost.

According to our sources, Gen. Dayton has promised these apparently reformed 178 terrorists - not smart suits and ties, but advanced military hardware, armored vehicles and 4x4s equipped with state of the art communications gear for them to lord it over the West Bank. [Unfortunately, this is quite plausible. Dayton has been trying to give them weapons since his first day on the job. CiJ]

Sunday night, July 15, there were reports that Israel was now being asked to give Palestinian security forces the freedom to range over the West Bank. In other words, the IDF is under pressure to abandon its highly-successful system of manned military roadblocks and checkpoints and counter-terror arrest raids, which reduced almost to zero the years of Palestinian suicide attacks in which Fatah played a leading part.

The elements are therefore in place for beginning to ease Israeli troops out of the West Bank and requiring them to hand over the responsibility for fighting terror to the Palestinians.

Prime minister Olmert has performed the difficult task of putting Israeli opinion to sleep while quietly embarking on a dangerous gamble with national security. [This is certainly true. On Friday, ultra-leftist deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai barely caused a ripple when he told the Jerusalem Post that 'no one' wants elections now anyway. CiJ] Once it is discovered, he relies on the public’s faulty memory not to recall the abysmal failure of every accord Israel forged with the Palestinians for ending terrorist violence in the past seven years, in 2000, 2003 and 2005. Each broke down in an upsurge of hostile violence in support of ever stiffer demands for more Israeli concessions.

President Bush and his secretary of state are badly in need of tidings that can be presented as a big breakthrough for their Middle East policies, however short term. They will therefore push their plan through over the coming weeks. Olmert and Co. will not dare rain on their parade.
The problem with this scenario is that it is all too plausible. Keep it in the back of your mind as we watch how the next few months unfold.

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