What did we miss?
Everyone’s saying that Israel botched a ceasefire when we killed mass murderer Salah Shehadeh along with innocent Palestinians. They’re saying the Tanzim and the Hamas were about to announce a unilateral ceasefire. Ehud Ya’ari, top Israeli expert on Arab affairs, said yesterday, on Israel’s TV channel two news, that this is not true. And “Palestinian sources told Maariv that talks between the Tanzim and Hamas had yet to come close to an agreement to cease suicide bombing attacks against Israelis”.
It seems there was something happening with the Tanzim, however. Akiva Eldar in Haaretz today tells us that “On Monday night at 10 P.M., the West Bank Fatah Secretary General Hussein a-Sheikh approved the final draft of a Tanzim declaration of an unconditional, unilateral cease-fire, with no demands on Israel. This time, the cease-fire would include no further attacks on settlers. All that would remain of the intifada would be the military campaign against Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories and the diplomatic campaign against Israeli citizens wherever they may be”. I don’t know. I always thought a ceasefire was when you ceased fire. Not when you ceased war crimes (targetting non-combatants).
Tanzim activists told Yediot Aharonot that the wording of their declaration would have been "We call on all the Palestinian political organizations and movements to put an immediate end to these attacks [against innocent men, women and children], and to do so without hesitation and with no preconditions".
Eldar adds that ”The secretary hoped that in the morning, Hamas in Gaza would add its signature to the declaration.”
It seems that the inclusion of Hamas in the ceasefire is pure wishful thinking, though, thought up by European do-gooders.
But their good intentions don’t change the fact that “Hamas opposes Israel's right to exist and has been carrying out suicide bombings since 1993 interim peace accords which it rejected. […] "Leave its occupation of us, leave our people," (Sheik Ahmed) Yassin said, when asked what Israel had to do for Hamas to halt attacks. "Leave our villages and lands."” (23 July) Given that the Hamas is talking about the occupation of the whole of “Palestine” from the Jordan to the sea, for Hamas to give us a ceasefire, we have to leave the country. Israel Insider says today that “Israeli officials quickly dismissed Hamas's seriousness about declaring a cease-fire, and described Yassin's declarations as Palestinian propaganda. Israel would not be able to meet the Hamas "conditions" for their participation in a cease-fire, the officials said.”
Ehud Ya’ari and Akiva Eldar are both talking about a British diplomat who has been running round the West bank trying to organize the ceasefire. Eldar says: “The Western diplomat has been involved in quite a few initiatives for a cease-fire and has been burned by both sides. He says that this time it isn't merely a matter of a cease-fire, but a profound political change in the young Palestinian leadership. "They're sick and tired of being forced to rebuild Palestinian credibility over and over. They want full transparency in everything, including political contacts, and they want to put everything on the table”.
"The Tanzim has reached the conclusion that if they don't make the change, the Hamas will raise the flag. They have also understood the political and moral damage the suicide bombings have created around them. They regard reducing the violence as a means for achieving strategic goals. The cease-fire was meant to allow them to present their public with a new leadership and a clear direction."” Thus the British diplomat.
I don’t know what “the Hamas will raise the flag” means.
On the other hand, both Israel TV channels one and two reported this evening that a Fatah group called “The Return Battalions” is calling for the assassinations of a long list of Israeli officials and high ranking IDF officers. (Hebrew link)
And what about those official negotiations with the PA we’d almost forgotten about? Well, Shimon Peres had been talking to Saeb Arekat, PA chief negotiator (and chief spreader of the “Jenin Massacre” fabrication, definitely a reliable partner for making deals) and with Abdel Razek Yehiyeh, the Palestinian interior minister. This was their offer:
“The Palestinians want Israel to begin withdrawing from Palestinian areas, returning to positions it held before the outbreak of violence on September 28, 2000. It should also lift closures and curfews.
Palestinian forces under Mr Yehiyeh would fill the vacuum in exchange for an Israeli guarantee not to target them.
If the withdrawal takes place … the Palestinians were ready to resume security co-ordination with Israel, confiscate illegal weapons and make arrests.
In exchange, the Palestinian Authority wants Israel to free prisoners arrested during the conflict, halt attacks on targets in the occupied territories and end the assassination campaign against wanted militants.” (July 23)
So what the PA is demanding is a return to the situation of September 2000. What they will give in return is a promise to do what they were supposed to be doing in September 2000 – keeping the peace. Considering their behavior in September 2000 and ever since, hardly a serious offer.
By the way, according to this poll, that Fred Lapides sent me, the great majority of Israelis see the Shehadeh killing as the right move.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
What did we miss?