Sharon and Israel showing restraint

The Times of London (www.timesonline.co.uk) has a good article on how Israel and her Prime Minister Sharon are showing restraint during these difficult times.

Although the Palestinian terrorist organizations continue their war on Israeli unarmed civilians, Sharon and Israel do not overreact, giving time for a diplomatic solution.

I don't believe that the Palestinian terrorists such as the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Arafat's groups such as the Tanzim and Al Aqsa's martyrs Brigade are ready to recognize the State of Israel and sign a peace treaty. But maybe after getting hit hard a few times, and having their terror infrastructure destroyed, they'll accept a cease-fire.

"The response instead has been measured, even surgical. Israel has targeted specific areas and individuals linked precisely to the violence aimed at its citizens. It has decided to place faith in the military operation that it conducted within the West Bank in April and has resisted the temptation to engage in a dramatic enterprise. In so doing it has provided the United States with a breathing space in which to attempt to exercise some influence over the Palestinians and encourage political dialog."

I copy the full article below.





Holding fire
Sharon has shown moderation in difficult conditions
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-306709,00.html

This week has been dominated by the welcome efforts of outside actors to urge restraint on India and Pakistan and avert conflict between those two countries. The price of moderation can be appallingly high, however, as witnessed by the killing of Abdul Gani Loni, the leading responsible separatist in Kashmir, on Tuesday. It is not helped by the fact that while extremism, especially in the heat of the moment, often enjoys a bellicose domestic constituency, reasonable compromise may have none. It is all too regularly applauded and appreciated for a brief period internationally and then forgotten. There are many times when the incentives to court short term popularity exceed those which come from considered actions.

The foreign news pages of the past seven days could easily have been filled as much by the possibility of outright war in the Middle East as by the confrontation along the India-Pakistan border. An outrageous suicide bombing directed at a snooker hall in Rishon le Zion a fortnight ago was widely expected to trigger a major Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip. The spate of incidents in the past three days — another “martyrdom” operation which left two Israelis dead, a foiled attempt to blow up a large fuel depot located in Tel Aviv and the effort by a Palestinian terrorist to drive a bomb-laden car at high speed into a night-club in the same city — might have led Ariel Sharon to order his troops back into the West Bank to reoccupy vast swaths of territory.

The response instead has been measured, even surgical. Israel has targeted specific areas and individuals linked precisely to the violence aimed at its citizens. It has decided to place faith in the military operation that it conducted within the West Bank in April and has resisted the temptation to engage in a dramatic enterprise. In so doing it has provided the United States with a breathing space in which to attempt to exercise some influence over the Palestinians and encourage political dialogue. George Tenet, the Director of the CIA, and William Burns, the Assistant Secretary of State, are expected in the region next week to build on the work initiated, in awkward circumstances, by Colin Powell during his tour five weeks ago.

Events since then should prompt all those who rushed to a stereotypical judgment of Mr Sharon to reconsider their opinions. He first agreed to a deal to release Yassir Arafat from his Ramallah compound — a bargain which many Israelis resented. He then permitted 13 known militants to leave Bethlehem for exile in the European Union to permit an end to the siege of the Church of the Nativity — an arrangement which surely must have stuck in his throat. Last week he confronted Binyamin Netanyahu within the Likud Party central committee on the question as to whether a Palestinian state should be ruled out on principle. And this week he threw the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party out of his Government when it sought to engage yet again in budgetary extortion.

For an allegedly “extreme” and “inflexible” Prime Minister, Mr Sharon has demonstrated an admirable degree of pragmatism. He has been rewarded with a surge in his own poll ratings. This restraint cannot pass, though, unreciprocated for a lengthy period. Another wave of suicide attacks will provoke vocal demands for retribution. The unsuccessful raid on the fuel depot is especially disturbing, as it may indicate that Hamas now aspires to concentrate its fire on high-profile economic sites which would also produce massive casualties. Mr Arafat, having hinted at real reform of the corrupt Palestinian Authority, appears to have lost interest once more in that exercise. This master of the lost opportunity should not be allowed to lose this one.

Posted by David Melle
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