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Olmert's Forced Retreat From Unilateralism
Cat : Israel and Zionism
Date : 2006-07-03 10:25:26                      Reader : 341
members as well Parliament of those who is supposed to negotiate !! What a crazy leader exactly as his deciple in Washington. Axe of evil is working actively marginalizing UN, and executes unilateral solutions. Hell with the world. Either axe of evil or Hell.


GOOGLE NEWS 3/7/2006

Olmert’s Forced Retreat From Unilateralism


By Jackson Diehl
Monday, July 3, 2006; Page A21

The scenario looks familiar: Israeli tanks and planes roar into Palestinian territory. Arab spokesmen deliver hyperbolic denunciations of "crimes against humanity"; Western and U.N. leaders issue feckless appeals for "restraint." But Israel’s ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip is very much unlike its last big military offensive against the Palestinians, over four years ago.

Then, as its troops fought door to door in the refugee camps of Jenin and its planes bombed police and government headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, Israel inaugurated a policy of unilateralism that has seen it attempt to impose its own settlement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- through territorial retreat, the construction of a border-like fence and a de facto refusal to negotiate with Palestinian leaders.

This invasion of Gaza, with its careful attempt to distinguish among Palestinian targets and its open invitation to diplomatic mediation, marks the end of that policy. Israel may not be able to return to negotiation with the Palestinians anytime soon. But until it does it probably won’t be able to complete any more major withdrawals from Palestinian territory, or restore the relative security it enjoyed for the past 18 months.

Don’t expect Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to acknowledge this new development quickly: He was elected in March on a platform of unilaterally "redeploying" Israeli settlers and soldiers from most of the West Bank. Last week he was still insisting to Israeli journalists that he intended to go through with the operation.

Olmert’s aim is to complete what his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, effectively began when he ordered Israeli tanks into the West Bank in April 2002. Until then Israel had been trying to negotiate peace -- or at least an end to violence -- with the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo accords of 1993. Sharon’s aim was to blow up that failing project -- to invalidate Oslo, destroy the Palestinian Authority and its security forces, and make possible a solution imposed by Israel.

The strategy reached its high-water mark last August, when Sharon successfully withdrew Israeli soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip, with the support of the United States but without even rudimentary coordination with what remained of the Palestinian government. He was planning a West Bank evacuation when he suffered a stroke in January. His theory, embraced by Olmert, was that once Israel withdrew behind more secure lines, and separated most Israelis from most Palestinians with a fortified border, a relatively peaceful status quo could be maintained indefinitely, at least for Israel’s civilian population.

The policy was failing even before Palestinian militants attacked a military post inside Israel eight days ago, killed two soldiers and abducted another through a tunnel into Gaza. In recent months more than 600 homemade rockets have rained down on Israel from the evacuated Palestinian territory, and Israel’s cross-border artillery shelling and targeted assassinations have proved incapable of stopping them. Consequently, support in Israel for a West Bank evacuation has plummeted. A majority in some recent polls opposed the Olmert plan.

Israel’s Arab neighbors and the Bush administration have been similarly unnerved by the prospect that the anarchy that has overtaken Gaza since August will spread to the West Bank. Israeli officials say Jordan’s King Abdullah, a relatively friendly neighbor, has been adamant in opposing any Israeli redeployment that leaves Hamas -- or no one -- in charge of the territory. In recent visits to Washington and London, Olmert got the message that he should look for a way to work with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on any evacuation.

A quiet Israeli retreat from unilateralism began even before last week. It could be seen not just in Olmert’s recent meeting and literal embrace of Abbas but also in his government’s willingness to accept European efforts to prevent Palestinian services from collapsing because of the suspension of funding for the Hamas-controlled government. Israeli policy was directed not at dismantling the Palestinian Authority but at strengthening the secular and moderate Abbas at the expense of Hamas.

That policy suffered a severe setback when Abbas proved unable to free Hamas’s Israeli captive, and Israel was left with little choice but to take military action. But note: This time Israel is not attacking Palestinian security forces loyal to Abbas. It has stayed out of the refugee camps and has arrested rather than killed Hamas’s leaders. Olmert and his generals are well aware that having marched back into Gaza, Israel probably won’t be able to leave again without cutting some sort of deal with Abbas and maybe Hamas. As it turns out, it takes two to end a war.

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