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Monday, April 03, 2006

The Kadima Victory – and Its Implications

At FrontPage Magazine.com, Ariel Cohen gives a prescient analysis of some of the implications of Kadima Achora's election 'victory.'

Kadima's security policy is a far cry from reality. Olmert, despite his personal and political roots in the nationalist Herut movement, ran on a platform of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank with no reciprocal political agreements, such as a peace treaty or a long-term ceasefire, with the Palestinians. The proposed retreat under terrorist fire requires relocating up to 80,000 Jewish residents, and will further bitterly split Israeli society, possibly resulting in violent resistance.

Olmert will need a coalition with Labor to implement the grand retreat. Peretz is likely to demand a massive "social spending package," which will reverse Netanyahu's budget cuts and send Israel's economy back to the dark days of 2003, when it took a beating in the wake of repeated terrorist attacks.

Smaller parties, such as Sephardi Orthodox Shas, may join the coalition in exchange for funding for its social programs, but Shas and its leader the former Chief Sephardi Rabbi Ovadiah Yossef are hawkish on security and its support may be tentative. As a result, Olmert's coalition may be narrow and divisive.

Olmert announced that he would first seek a Palestinian partner for peace talks. But Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, calls for its destruction, and will not denounce terror. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose goal is to establish a Sharia state throughout the Middle East and beyond. Radical and often violent, it is supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, and claims that all Holy Land is the land of the Islamic religious endowment (Waqf). Hamas has already allowed Al Qaeda and Hizballah to penetrate Gaza to provide terrorist training and begin recruitment of terror cells for the next war.

Under the circumstances, a unilateral withdrawal is likely to invite more violence. Despite Israel's complete withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas militants fire Qassam and Katyusha rockets on Israeli towns and cities daily, threatening one of the country's key power stations. If Israel pulls out, Hamas will control the strategic mountain ranges that dominate the coastal planes of Israel. If missiles are fired from the West Bank, Israel's densely populated central plane and its Ben Gurion International airport will be vulnerable. And Hamas, whose dozens of attacks have killed and wounded hundreds of men, women and children, is likely to resort to these tactics once again as it establishes political control.

U.S. strategic priorities in the Middle East are at stake, including credibility, ability to stand against terrorist organizations -- even elected ones. America still hopes to affect regional dynamics in the direction of tolerance, civil society and the rule of law.

The U.S. also needs to prevent Israel from becoming a security burden or being overwhelmed by terror. The Bush Administration and the State Department should take assertive diplomatic measures to promote stability in the face of these daunting challenges.

The U.S. should spearhead a worldwide campaign to isolate Hamas, not just among Western allies, but vis-a-vis the U.N., Russia, China, the Arab and Muslim world, and other developing countries. This campaign should include cessation of all economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority, as for the last decades billions of misallocated assistance dollars ended up in off-shore bank accounts controlled by Yassir Arafat, his cronies, and his family members. Moreover, funds are fungible, and Hamas will likely divert them to terrorist uses, such as buying weapons and paying off suicide bombers' families.

The U.S. and the international community should demand that Hamas not only recognize Israel, abandon violence, and adhere to the "road map", including dismantlement of its heavily armed militias, but also cease and desist from systematic brainwashing of the Palestinian population, including children, to become suicide bombers in the guise of "holy warriors" (mujahideen).

Israeli voters have demonstrated once again that they are willing to support far-reaching compromise for peace. Until such time as Palestinians produce a realistic leadership willing to compromise and negotiate peaceful arrangements, the US should make it clear to Israel that it has full rights to protect itself against terror threats by all means necessary -- just as the US does.


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