Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Breaking News: Israel and the Bush Administration Agree: No Arms Smuggling to Gaza

After weeks of intense fighting in which over 1000 Palestinians have been killed, Israel and the US are close to an agreement that Hamas should not smuggle arms to Gaza

I kid you not. Today's Haaretz lead headline (in huge type): "Israel US close in on deal to halt arms smuggling into Gaza". Read it (and weep) here:

So let me get this straight. Hamas has not yet agreed to stop smuggling weapons. A lame duck administration, with less than a week to go, is now promising Israel that it will help to do…precisely what?

According to Haaretz, this is Israel's wish list for such a momentous agreement.

  • A U.S. declaration calling on the international community to deal with the smuggling of arms from Iran to terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
  • Intelligence cooperation between Israel and the U.S. for identifying the sources of weapons, with focus on the network linking Iran, the Persian Gulf and Sudan.
  • An international maritime effort along the smuggling routes to find ships carrying weapons to the Gaza Strip, possibly with the involvement of NATO.
  • An American and European commitment for the transfer of technologies to Egypt that will help it uncover tunnels.
  • Plans for the economic development of Rafah, with particular emphasis on the Bedouin to undercut the financial motivation for building and operating tunnels.

Look, if such "achievements" help Israel to stop the war and accept an Egyptian cease-fire, fine with me. (See under Lebanon II)

Meanwhile, Haaretz's commentators Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff have an analysis that backs the Israeli narrative on the cease-fire: Hamas lost, Israel reestablished its deterrence. (See under Lebanon II)

And, apparently, an overwhelming amount of Israelis are happy with the war and the way it has been conducted. That is not such a bad thing. It is because they weren't happy with the way the Lebanese war was conducted that Olmert prepared for war in Gaza in the first place.

Moral of the story: to make most Israelis happy you have to pound the Palestinians, blow them to bits, and wreak heavy destruction.

Now, who wins and who loses?

I can't see anybody winning. Hamas will still be in power, and since Israel won't allow elections, they will remain in power. The border crossing will remain open (until Israel closes them) and that is about Hamas's only achievement in the war. Many Gazans are unhappy with Hamas, but are more unhappy with Israel. Since Israel has no alternative to Hamas rule in Gaza – Fatah won't come back in, and Israel sure won't take charge – Israel will just continue to make the lives of the Gazans miserable. And that means that the ranks of Hamas will swell, after a while.

Israel gets its pride back – at the price of its international image, and at a time when more and more people are identifying its policies with those of the Bush mindset.

So this is what we have come to? A Jewish state that buys short periods of respite through slaughtering civilians? Every two to three years we will have to go through the madness again?

Ah, Herzl's dream….

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