From US news on Israel I think it's a good view.
From Bad to Worse
By Mortimer B. Zuckerman
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006
Browse through an archive of columns by Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
Eleven months ago, Israel withdrew from every last inch of the Gaza Strip. The Israelis dismantled all military bases, destroyed all their settlements, turned over functioning greenhouses that could employ 4,000 people, expelled all 7,500 Israeli settlers--all at a huge financial and political cost. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon even went a step further, declaring the lines that divide Israel from Gaza an international frontier, making Gaza the first independent Palestinian territory ever.
Everyone hoped then that the Palestinians would show the world what they could achieve with freedom as a template for a future independent state. Alas, they have shown us all too well. Not one day of peace has followed since then. The pattern was set on the very day of Israel's pullout. Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border, targeting innocent civilians living in the pre-1967 Israel recognized by the international community. The final straw came last month, with the Hamas attack that killed two Israeli soldiers and resulted in the kidnapping of a third. Last week, inspired by the rhetorical threats of Iran's incendiary president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah--like Hamas, another Iranian proxy--attacked Israel from the north, killing eight Israeli soldiers and abducting two more, and then began raining rockets down onto Israel civilians.
Nature's law. The Palestinians are giving the lie to virtually every scenario so hopefully envisaged by their friends, including Israeli supporters of disengagement. They failed to begin building schools, roads, and hospitals; they made no effort to turn Gaza into a thriving state, nor did they create villages of their own out of the settlements the Israeli government forced its settlers to abandon. They vandalized the greenhouses not once, but twice. They elected a radical Islamic Hamas government; they breached the border with Israel, permitting the smuggling of huge quantities of weapons and creating new bases for terrorism.
Not only did Hamas fail to become more moderate; Fatah and the Palestinians became even more radicalized, moving closer to Hamas's extremist position, choosing to interpret Israel's voluntary evacuation not as a gesture of peace but as a victory for the armed struggle. Terrorism in Gaza flourished, tunnels were dug, more weapons were imported, militants trained, more Kassam rockets were produced and fired at Israel.
At first, the Israelis tried nonlethal deterrence--diplomatic warnings, then sonic booms from fighter jets to remind the Gazans that Israel has the power to retaliate. Those failed. It was a sad demonstration of the truth in the metaphor that in the Middle East the law of nature prevails--an animal perceived as weak invites only attack. The Israelis fell back on targeted assassinations against the terrorist leaders--exactly what America did against Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq, despite the risk that innocents might be killed because the terrorists hide among civilians, moral shields for immoral men.
Some apologists suggest that Israel should ignore the Palestinian rockets because they are puny and erratic. That's easy to say from an armchair, but every one of the rockets fired into urban areas is intended to kill or maim as many Israeli civilians as possible. The Israeli town of Sderot lost 13 people to Palestinian rocket fire, and a third of the children are said to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, Palestinian militants have begun firing longer-range rockets that have reached larger cities like Ashkelon, where 115,000 Israelis live.
The last thing Israel wanted to do was get involved again in Gaza, much less in Lebanon, but Hamas and Hezbollah gave it no choice. Who can doubt the right--indeed, the duty--of a government to defend its citizens against random attacks? Who would doubt the U.S. response if rockets were raining from across the Mexican border into American cities, or if Canadian forces simultaneously killed and kidnapped Americans on U.S. soil? And who but Israel would be shipping foodstuffs, medicines, and chlorine containers for purifying drinking water to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza? Could you imagine the allies sending foodstuffs and medicines to Germany during World War II? Perversely, the terrorist organizations are focusing terrorist acts on the very border crossings that are Gaza's lifelines. Why is Hamas doing this? To claim there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as a way of forcing Israel to relinquish its efforts to find its abducted infantryman.
Israel has several objectives. First, it wants to reassert the power of its deterrence so that Hamas and Hezbollah know that terrorist violence will be met with ever more painful and far-reaching responses. Israel intends to make it crystal clear that kidnapping simply does not pay. Israeli intelligence has already detected 20 new kidnapping plots, with more undoubtedly to come. The Hamas government may wear suits and ties during the day but, in effect, wears black balaclavas at night. Dr. Jekyll may offer a cease-fire, but it is only a tactical pause for Mr. Hyde to rebuild for more war. The Hamas menace is not confined to Israel, for it is now welcoming other Islamic terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and Hezbollah. The latter has already undermined the independence of the Lebanese government, and, indeed, is now a part of that government.
But what about Mahmoud Abbas, the pacific-sounding hope of the West? Yes, what of Mr. Abbas? Sadly, what we have witnessed is his utter failure to influence the Hamas government. He has failed to honor the pledge he gave Israeli officials to muster the forces for a house-to-house search for the abducted soldier. That he has folded to Hamas is evidenced by his agreement to a version of the so-called prisoners' document. It is not a basis for peace talks but a step toward war. It is a dramatic pullback from Fatah's previous position because it reopens the most vital questions about Israel's right to exist (which is explicitly rejected by the Hamas negotiators) and endorses terrorism and violence. It means that both Hamas and Fatah are equally committed to Israel's annihilation. Now that Fatah is seeking to outflank Hamas on the side of radicalism, it is no surprise that Israelis feel they do not have a partner for peace. Abbas's willingness to sign it should open the eyes of the world to the fact that he is no moderate and no potential peacemaker.
Code words. Soon Israel will also have to confront the political challenge of a modified version of this "prisoners' manifesto" signed by Hamas and Abbas. Again, it is not really about peace with Israel; it is about ending the civil war between the Palestinian factions. The language of the document is confrontational, not compromising. It does not call for an end to terrorism against the Israelis, only an end to violence among the Palestinians. It repudiates the framework for peace negotiated by years of effort, specifically U.N. Resolution 242. It demands all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 defensive war. And even if that were conceded, which it is not, the document does not indicate that the Palestinians would then withdraw their claims to Israel's pre-1967 territory.
The Oslo accord--and the four-power road map agreement--called for an end to terrorism. This, instead, is a manifesto for terrorism. It does not require that the Palestinian Authority dismantle terrorism but just the opposite. It calls for continuing violence and for "popular resistance" against the Israeli occupation "in all its forms, places and policies," and "by all means," language long recognized as code for terrorism and as legitimizing the murder of Israelis. Nor does it restrict terrorism to the West Bank but only suggests that terrorism be focused in the West Bank, without precluding Palestinians from carrying out terrorist acts against Israel inside its pre-1967 borders.
Most critically, it advocates the right of return for some 4 million Palestinian refugees, as they define themselves today, the descendants of the 700,000 Arabs who fled during the 1948 war primarily at the behest of their own leaders. These refugees, under the new Palestinian manifesto, are now proposed to be returned to pre-1967 Israel, virtually putting the Jews into a minority in their own country--the very situation that the United Nations ruled out in deciding the original partition of Palestine.
Tragically, this document and the violence in Gaza have undermined the domestic support for the main program of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (whom Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah compared, unhelpfully, to Neville Chamberlain). That program--known as realignment--contemplated a dramatic withdrawal from roughly 90 percent of the West Bank. Today, 49 percent of the Israeli public opposes the realignment plan and only 38 percent supports it. It is clear that Israeli withdrawals and concessions have brought about not Palestinian moderation but just the opposite. It is equally clear that the proposed realignment of the West Bank's borders will now simply create a new battle line, just as the disengagement in Gaza created new battle lines. A withdrawal from the West Bank would put Hamas within range of Israel's main population centers and infrastructure, raising the fear that a rocket launched from the West Bank could hit the country's most densely populated areas, like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Ben-Gurion airport. Israel cannot even begin to contemplate exposing its citizens to such peril. It will have to review its concept of the strongest defensive line.
It is more clear than ever that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute stems not from Israel's unwillingness to compromise but from the nature of its adversary; and that the desire among Palestinians to eliminate Israel is too powerful, the adherence to violence too pervasive, to overcome. Most fair-minded observers share the Israeli conclusion that there is no Palestinian partner for peace. As the leading Egyptian paper, Al-Ahram, pointed out: "The Palestinians must be aware by now that they can no longer count on Arab help, economically, politically, or militarily . ... Arab nations have had enough ... of the slogans and rhetoric that have gotten us nowhere. ... The Palestinians have lost Arab backing both on the official and nonofficial levels." And the CEO of the Arab News Agency Al Arabiya wrote, "Was the result worth all the damage it caused?"
The Middle East equation today could hardly be more stark or depressing. It reveals once again that Hamas and the Palestinians, now joined by Hezbollah, armed and financed by Iran, wish to get rid of Israel. This will be a "long war" in which victory will be the culmination of a series of unavoidable catastrophes