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Sunday, August 13, 2006

As death toll rises, so does disgust with Olmert government

Twenty-four IDF soldiers were killed in yesterday's fighting, five of them on the helicopter that crashed last night after being hit by an anti-tank missile in southern Lebanon, and disgust with the Olmert government is growing.

The helicopter crashed into enemy territory and the bodies have not yet been recovered, although their families have been notified. At least 40-50 Hezbullah terrorists were killed. At least 153 Israeli soldiers were wounded (based on the number of hospital admittances given by YNet; the JPost is just saying "dozens)."

Olmert has been criticized by both the right and the left: by the right for accepting the hudna (although it appears to me that the more valid criticism would be for getting us to the point where the US felt forced to back the hudna in the first place) and by the left for sending so many troops into Lebanon, especially after the game was apparently over. The JPost has a sampling of the politicians' reactions:

MK Zvi Hendel (NU-NRP) said the opposition would resume efforts to topple the prime minister, ending a self-imposed hiatus on attacking the government during the war. He said inquiries would be made into Olmert's handling of the war and that his mistakes would be exposed. [The inquiries will be made. Whether the mistakes will be exposed is a separate issue. I certainly hope that they will be exposed. CiJ]

"Olmert is not fit to stay in power, he won't last one day longer," Hendel said. "The ministers should listen to [Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah's satisfaction with the cease-fire to understand how bad it is for Israel." [Olmert is not fit to stay in power. But again, whether he will last longer is a separate issue. Certainly, if he is forced to call elections, he is out. Remember Ehud Barak in 2001. After four months of the Oslo War, he was tossed out. CiJ]

MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said the cease-fire was one of the worst Israel had ever been offered. He said Israel would not achieve any of its goals, including returning its kidnapped soldiers and the disarming of Hizbullah, while issues like the return of Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) and the release of Lebanese terrorists from jail had been put on the agenda.

"If we would have known that this would be of the result of the war no one would have supported it," Shalom told The Jerusalem Post. "Just last month Olmert called UNIFIL worthless pensioners and now they are being entrusted with protecting our country."

Shalom said he was also not happy with the news about the IDF reaching the Litani River because the IDF should have entered deep into Lebanon a long time ago. [Ah, but does this mean that Shalom will drop his backbiting of party leader Binyamin Netanyahu long enough to allow the Likud a shot at returning to power? That is the real question regarding Arik Sharon's candidate to run the Likud so that it would play along with Kadima Achora. And for those for whom that was not clear enough, I have not quite as much contempt for Shalom as I have for Olmert. And for the same reasons: another unprincipled, opportunistic Israeli politician. CiJ]

On the Left, Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said that the expansion of operations in Lebanon was a "prize for Hizbullah" that would entail weeks of arduous warfare and heavy casualties. [Of course, Shimon Peres' poodle will never acknowledge that his underhanded behavior in the early 90's in forcing Yitzchak Rabin into a fait accompli called the 'Oslo accords' had anything to do with this. Nor his own support for the army's flight from Lebanon six years ago. CiJ]

Meretz and Peace Now began demonstrating against the war on Thursday and a columnist in the left-leaning Ha'aretz [Israel's Hebrew Palestinian daily. CiJ] joined Hendel in calling for Olmert to quit in a column under the headline, "Olmert must go." [That call was not quite what it seemed. Go read the link. CiJ]
And here's another little tidbit that may come as a surprise to some of you:
Olmert also encountered problems inside his own party over the weekend when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed disappointment with his decision to prevent her from attending the Security Council deliberations on the cease-fire resolution in New York.

The move was seen as revenge against Livni for opposing military operations and for voting against a decision to bomb Hizbullah's headquarters in Beirut at the start of the war. [I never knew she voted against it, and why is Olmert taking 'revenge' when it was clear all along that he himself opposed it? CiJ]

In an unflattering profile in the weekend magazine of Yediot Aharonot, Foreign Ministry staffers criticized Livni for taking a backseat role during the war and refusing to give interviews to the foreign press.

"My relationship with the prime minister is correct," Livni told Channel 1 on Saturday night. "I think I should have gone to New York but the prime minister thought differently, so I did my work from here." [Someone find the lady some frequent flier miles. CiJ]
Finally, think about this: Whom do you believe? Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Northern Commander Udi Adam or Ehud Olmert?
Hinting that the diplomatic echelon held the IDF back from launching a widespread ground incursion up to the Litani River, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam said Saturday that the military was prepared already close to two weeks ago to launch the operation.

"The plan was ready days ago and before the recent [diplomatic] events," Adam said. "The moment we got permission we launched the operation."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had rejected such criticism from the army earlier in the week, saying Monday: "Regarding the military operation, up until yesterday morning (Sunday) no operative plan was brought to me to widen the picture beyond the lines where the IDF is today," Olmert said, his words coming across as a bit defensive.

"I have heard all kinds of things, and read all types of articles in the press: I repeat my statement: I met yesterday, together with the defense minister, with the northern commander and with all the top army officers, and told them what I am telling you now. There has not been one case along the way that a proposal for military operations was brought for our approval and was not approved.

"Yesterday was the first time, I stress the first time, that a proposal was brought to us to deviate from the lines beyond where the army is today. I approved bringing that proposal to the security cabinet, and the security cabinet will deal with it tomorrow, we will deal with it and at the end of the day there will be a decision."

My view: Olmert rejected a number of proposals that were brought to him earlier. His statement about the first proposal coming 'yesterday' last Sunday is a Clintonesque lie. Let' s just hope that Olmert pays the price for his ineptitude and incompetence. In any event, that entire article should be read.

Finally, for those of you who see my use of the Arabic term hudna and thinks it's just another way of saying 'cease fire,' it's not. This is from Wikipedia:

Hudna (هدنة) is an Arabic term meaning "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes translated as "cease-fire". In the Lisan al-Arab (Ibn al-Manzur's definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, dating to the 14th century) it is defined as follows:
"hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna."

A particularly famous early hudna was the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe.

According to Umdat as-Salik, a medieval summary of Shafi'i jurisprudence, hudnas with a non-Muslim enemy should be limited to 10 years: "if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud" ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).

In other words, this isn't really a 'cease fire,' but rather a chance for Hezbullah to regroup (for those who don't believe me, follow that 'treaty of Hudaybiyyah' link (and the 'controversy' about it).


At 3:56 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

"The move was seen as revenge against Livni for opposing military operations and for voting against a decision to bomb Hizbullah's headquarters in Beirut at the start of the war."

Is this the usual way for Israel to determine it's war military strategy: by letting the cabinet decide by voting? This would seem to be dangerous. Could it explain the seemingly inscrutible wartime leadership shown by Olmert?

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Yes and yes.

Is it dangerous? Probably less so than letting Olmert decide on his own. The problem is that the Knesset is a circus, and would never be able to reach decisions in a timely manner (not to mention that many of its Arab members can legitimately be accused of not being on our side).


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