Israel should not hesitate in getting rid of the murderers of Hamas

The Jerusalem Report (www.jrep.com) has another great article from Ehud Ya'ari on how getting rid of the murderers from Hamas can only benefit Israel.

A few hours after the killing of Salah Shehadeh, the commander of the military wing of Hamas, in Gaza on July 23, the phone calls began coming from some of the veterans of the Oslo crowd, an Arab Knesset member, and two or three European diplomats -- all of whom work full-time in turning out magic formulas for ending the intifada.

The message was harsh and you probably read it in the headlines of your local paper, wherever you live. The F-16 bombing of the hiding place of the man who established the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and inculcated in them the culture of suicide terrorism was a fatal error, they said. And they were not referring to the tragic deaths of 12 Palestinian civilians, nine of them children, but only the removal of this arch-terrorist, who had topped Israel’s wanted list for years. [...]

There were many in Israel and abroad who were only too eager to believe it. A flood of stories dealt with the tragedy of this missed historical opportunity. Almost instantly, thanks to a few phone calls, intentionally made close to deadline, this thwarted cease-fire became part of the factual background to public discourse on the current plight of the intifada that has turned sour.

And then -- how amazing! -- two things happened: First, Fatah didn’t even propose a cease-fire, and certainly not a unilateral or unconditional one. What’s more, Fatah never even demanded an explicit undertaking from Hamas and its ilk to stop suicide attacks, and never even dared to ask, in more than a veiled hint, for a stop to attacks on civilians within Israel, as distinct from the territories. On the contrary: The final draft called for recognizing the intifada and the "resistance" (that is, violent operations) as means in the Palestinian struggle for a state that would return Israel to its borders of before June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.

And second, even this watered-down formula went too far for Hamas and Jihad. Their reply was an emphatic "no," accompanied by a propaganda campaign to clarify why suicide bombings were an essential weapon that could not be abandoned. Hamas rejected any attempt at creative ambiguity that could be construed as possible recognition of the State of Israel, of the Oslo Accords, or even of the PLO, which signed them.

I have been watching Ehud Ya'ari's commentaries on Israeli TV for years and he's always right on the money.

I got the link to this article from Imshin, an Israeli mother trying to make sense of the current insanity.





Ehud Ya'ari: Another Local Legend
http://www.jrep.com/Columnists/
Article-2.html

By now it should be clear that the ‘cease-fire that was missed’ -- based on a Fatah attempt to bring Hamas into a temporary partnership -- never had a chance.

A few hours after the killing of Salah Shehadeh, the commander of the military wing of Hamas, in Gaza on July 23, the phone calls began coming from some of the veterans of the Oslo crowd, an Arab Knesset member, and two or three European diplomats -- all of whom work full-time in turning out magic formulas for ending the intifada.

The message was harsh and you probably read it in the headlines of your local paper, wherever you live. The F-16 bombing of the hiding place of the man who established the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and inculcated in them the culture of suicide terrorism was a fatal error, they said. And they were not referring to the tragic deaths of 12 Palestinian civilians, nine of them children, but only the removal of this arch-terrorist, who had topped Israel’s wanted list for years.

Hamas, their argument went, had been on the verge of joining Fatah in a unilateral, unconditional cease-fire declaration. No more terrorism! Only Israel, in its folly, and Sharon, in his profound nefariousness, prevented this miracle from happening. Everything was wrapped up, they said. And as evi-dence, they leaked to the ready and willing correspondents the texts of the public statements that had ostensibly been on the way to the printers.

There were many in Israel and abroad who were only too eager to believe it. A flood of stories dealt with the tragedy of this missed historical opportunity. Almost instantly, thanks to a few phone calls, intentionally made close to deadline, this thwarted cease-fire became part of the factual background to public discourse on the current plight of the intifada that has turned sour.

Only a week or two after the killing of Shehadeh, Hamas, as well as Islamic Jihad and the rejectionist "fronts," resumed nego-tiating with Fatah, and at the highest level, not through minor players. It looked for a moment as if the "cease-fire" was in fact taking shape again. The "Program for National Accord" was drafted over and over until taking its final form on August 14.

And then -- how amazing! -- two things happened: First, Fatah didn’t even propose a cease-fire, and certainly not a unilateral or unconditional one. What’s more, Fatah never even demanded an explicit undertaking from Hamas and its ilk to stop suicide attacks, and never even dared to ask, in more than a veiled hint, for a stop to attacks on civilians within Israel, as distinct from the territories. On the contrary: The final draft called for recognizing the intifada and the "resistance" (that is, violent operations) as means in the Palestinian struggle for a state that would return Israel to its borders of before June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.

And second, even this watered-down formula went too far for Hamas and Jihad. Their reply was an emphatic "no," accompanied by a propaganda campaign to clarify why suicide bombings were an essential weapon that could not be abandoned. Hamas rejected any attempt at creative ambiguity that could be construed as possible recognition of the State of Israel, of the Oslo Accords, or even of the PLO, which signed them.

In brief, Shehadeh’s Hamas colleagues, simply and contemptuously, dismissed the proposal that in essence was meant to reduce the scope of the terror to some degree. Can anyone really believe that just a fortnight beforehand, these same people were ripe for a cease-fire, whose demise we were all asked to mourn before it even saw the light of day?

We should recall that in exchange for a move toward partially ending the intifada, by limiting the fighting to the territories alone, Fatah offered Hamas a basketful of gains: participation in a collective leadership, outside (and above) the PLO’s Palestinian Authority; changing the electoral system from regional to proportional, ensuring Hamas substantial representation in all the institutions, and unification of all aid revenue in one common fund that would distribute the donations on an equal basis, so that Hamas would enjoy them too. The proposal would also have allowed Hamas to claim that the establishment of a state in the territories beyond the pre-67 Green Line was only a "temporary" goal and it would not be obliged to give up its demand to eliminate Israel altogether.

Nevertheless, despite all these temptations, Hamas said no, and things very quickly deteriorated into a war of words with Fatah.

True, Fatah had begun almost desperately to find a way to get away from the intifada, and they tried to do it by creating a temporary partnership with Hamas. But -- and this should be clear now even to those who so eagerly bought into the "cease-fire that was missed" story -- it never had a chance. Hamas was not about to accept, before Shehadeh’s elimination, a formula that was several times more far-reaching than that which it rejected afterward.

Incidentally, none of the Hamas leaders is claiming that the killing of Shehadeh was the reason for the rejection. They raised only theoretical and ideological grounds for torpedoing the agreement with Fatah.

The only question now is whether any of the purveyors of that purported cease-fire will bother to admit they were wrong?

September 9, 2002

Posted by David Melle
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