Friday, January 11, 2008

Israeli Military up in Arms over Bush-Olmert Plan for Major Operation in Gaza on Behalf of… Palestinian Authority

Worth Reading

"President George W. Bush gave Israel the nod for its long-delayed military operation against Hamas in the Gaza before he ended his 50-hour visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah on Friday, Jan. 11 – except that his provisos stop the Israeli military short of its objectives, namely stamping out the Palestinian missile campaign, halting smuggling and eradicating Hamas military stockpiles, as reported here by DEBKAfile’s military sources:

1. Israeli forces must limit their invasion to two or three strips abutting the Gaza-Israeli border......

Operationally, this means the Israeli army may push back the Qassam missile launching sites from the border and distance this harassment from the Israeli population, but may not destroy terrorist arms and missile caches and their means of production.....

2. The IDF must operate only in sparsely-populated areas and desist from actions that may cause extensive Palestinian civilian casualties.

3. The IDF will not capture the main cities, e.g. Gaza City, Rafah and Khan Younes.

4. After clearing captured areas of Hamas, Jihad Islami and other Palestinian terrorists, the Israeli army must pull out and hand the cleansed territory to the forces of the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel must enable the passage of those forces from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip and allow them to establish military bases for launching their offensives to recapture the entire Gaza Strip, thereby reversing Hamas’ success in forcing their retreat six months ago.

Point 4 was tagged onto the list during the US president’s talks with Abbas in Ramallah Thursday, Jan. 10.

The Palestinian leader proposed that Bush’s assent to an Israel counter-terror operation in the Gaza Strip be exploited for the IDF to prepare the ground for his Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority to regain its control of the lost territory. It was agreed between Bush, Abbas and Olmert, that the details of this plan be worked out after the US president returns home at the end of his Middle East tour.......

The notion that members of Israel’s people’s army, which is duty bound to defend the state, may be ordered to fight and lay down their lives in the service of the Palestinian Authority, presents every serviceman with an irreconcilable dilemma......

....Today, Israeli policy-makers, the United States and the Palestinian Authority are contemplating saddling the soldiers with another political undertaking: to turn around the Fatah’s defeat in its internecine war with Hamas......

Another of the plan’s fundamental flaws is that the Palestinian Authority is in effect leaderless, rudderless and is bereft of the professional security strength for following up on the deal.

The Bush-Olmert-Abbas plan would have the Israeli military pull their irons out of the fire when it is common knowledge that once inside Gaza, PA security forces will quickly disintegrate and be swallowed up by the far more resolute Hamas. It was therefore proposed in Bush’s talks in Ramallah and Jerusalem that the Israeli Air Force and artillery provide support for the Palestinian takeover of the Gaza Strip, a tactic the US army employs for local forces in Iraq......

Furthermore, Abbas and his elite officials are not considered representative by the bulk of the Palestinian people (who in Jan. 2006 voted Hamas into office). Neither are they trusted to execute complicated strategies.

Finally, the Bush-Olmert policy of placing all their bets for a Middle East breakthrough on the inept Mahmoud Abbas condemns their plan to failure.

At the dinner Olmert hosted in honor of the US president Thursday night, several ministers pointed out these hard facts to Bush and told him bluntly that he is gambling all his hopes for peace on a non-existent entity called the Palestinian Authority. The US president answered: “I agree. That really is a problem.”"

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