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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's not a 'peace process,' it's a war

French President Nicolas Sarcozy is in Israel. On Monday night, he met with President Shimon Peres and tried to convince Peres to agree to the French plan for Israel's surrender a 48-hour 'humanitarian' cease fire. But even our octogenarian hallucinator was having none of it.
"(Israel does not want Iran to reach Gaza and we mean to sever their bond," Peres told his French colleague. "We cannot allow terror to raise its head. We do not intend to stay in Gaza, but we do not want to leave it to Hamas' control."
According to the JPost's Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas is desperate for a 'lull.'

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Here's Abu Toameh:
What is clear is that Hamas is now desperate for a lull in the fighting. But it is also eager to score some kind of a "military victory" before a cease-fire is reached.

Hamas can't accept a new cease-fire without having proved to the Arab and Muslim masses that it was capable of making Israel pay a heavy price for its military offensive.

Hamas is fighting for its survival and its leaders know that their collapse would constitute a severe blow not only to the movement, but also to its patrons in Teheran and Damascus.

"It's hard to tell who's in charge in the Gaza Strip these days," said a Ramallah-based analyst. "Hamas's political leaders have disappeared after throwing away their mobile phones. No one knows exactly what Hamas wants."

The analyst said that according to his sources, the embattled Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip were no longer in direct contact with their colleagues in Syria.

"The political leaderships of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Damascus have been disconnected from each other," he added. "I doubt if there's any coordination between them."

He pointed out that the decision to dispatch two senior Hamas envoys to Cairo for talks about a cease-fire came as a surprise to the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. The two envoys are based in Damascus and report directly to Khaled Mashaal, he said.

Another Ramallah-based political analyst said that the political leadership of Hamas has given the movement's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, full freedom to take any measures it deems necessary to prevent the collapse of the Hamas regime.

"The gunmen on the streets are now in charge," he noted. "This is a dangerous situation, because they don't report to anyone at the top. This has created a state of anarchy and confusion."

Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip said on Monday that the general feeling was that Hamas does not exist any longer as a governing body. "All their government institutions have been destroyed," said a Gaza City reporter. "The Hamas leaders are now behaving like al-Qaida's Osama bin Laden and [his deputy] Ayman Zawahiri. Their only public appearances are through recorded messages aired on Arab TV stations."
Read the whole thing.

But any 'lull,' 'humanitarian cease fire,' or other such period has nothing to do with peace as Anne Applebaum pointed out in a spot-on Monday column in Slate (Hat Tip: Hot Air). And given its current advantage in the fighting and the world's apparent willingness to let it win, Israel is not going to go for a 'lull' right now:
For the trouble with all of these peace efforts, peace conferences, peace initiatives, and peace proposals is that none of them recognize the most obvious fact about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: It's not a peace process; it's a war. At least at the moment, both parties are still convinced that their central aims will be better obtained through weapons and military tactics than through negotiations of any kind. To be more explicit, Hamas and its followers believe that the continuing firing of rockets at southern Israel will, sooner or later, result in the dissolution of the Israeli state. The Israelis—both on the "peacenik" left and the more bellicose right—believe that the only way to prevent Hamas from firing rockets is to fight back. Intervention—whether from well-meaning Europeans, U.N. delegations, Russian envoys (or even Condoleezza Rice, who has wisely stayed home, so far)—can postpone the conflict but cannot halt the violence, at least not until one side or the other waves a white flag and surrenders.

That brief, halcyon period of the Oslo peace process was possible because this is precisely what happened: A combination of Russian emigration into Israel, the end of Soviet support, and general weariness led at least a part of the Palestinian leadership to conclude, after 30 years, that it would never push Israel into the sea. At least a part of the equally weary Israeli leadership came to believe that their occupation policies were doing them more harm than good and that they would gain more from negotiating than from fighting. Further negotiations will make sense only when Hamas' leadership—currently emboldened by a combination of popular indignation and Iranian support—finally arrives at the same conclusion as its secular counterparts, and a new generation of Israelis is again convinced to believe them.

Until then, there is no point in bemoaning the passivity of the Bush administration, the silence of Barack Obama, the powerlessness of Arab leaders, or the weakness of Europe as so many, predictably, have begun to do. It's no outsider's "fault" that the fighting continues, and it merely obscures the real issues when we pretend otherwise. Diplomats might be able to slow its progress, but this war won't be over until someone has won it.
Maybe, finally, Israel is going to be allowed to fight a war to the finish and win. And once the 'Palestinians' have been vanquished, we can have some sensible discussions about peace. It's about time.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Palestinians would have to be thoroughly defeated to disabuse them of the notion they can ever destroy Israel. Its only the shock of defeat that will hopefully bring about positive and long-lasting changes in their society. If that doesn't happen, it will be a tragedy for all concerned. Incidentally, the Mubarak regime wants Israel to defeat Hamas because Cairo knows that emboldened Hamas would strengthen the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which is a threat to the regime. Its one of those rare historical periods when Arab leaders are quietly cheering Israel on to finish the job. That's exactly what she needs to do now. Such favorable international circumstances as Israel has right now are unlikely to come again.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Naftali2 said...

It's been a war for 60 years. I wish that we, Jews, could insist upon that language. A lot of the present fighting is over language, not anything tangible. Heck, anyone can fight over language.


You're right, the lines of alliances are way out of whack in this fight. I was remarking to a friend that the length of the operation now is a matter of capturing people who will tell where the big rocket depots are. Intelligence gathering is what takes time. Many of the casualties are the result of Fatah versus Hamas, and Israel gets blamed. And of course, this whole battle is Iran clumsily trying to raise the price of oil. This is going to backfire on them, by the way.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Caroline Glick has written that Hamas may have been asked to launch this war by Iran as a means of diverting attention from Iran's nuclear program. We can never take our eyes off the big prize. The world is watching to see how seriously Israel addresses Islamist terror. The Hamas guys are the baddest apples in the barrel. Al Qaeda at least offers the Jews the choice of embracing Islam. Hamas wants all of them dead. So this is whom Israel is locked with today in a literal life and death struggle.


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