Thursday, October 27, 2005


From Israel Arlene Kushner October 27, 2005

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October 27, 2005

One gets an enormous feeling of deja vu when reviewing recent happenings: the more things seem to change, the more they are the same...

The great imponderable is why western officials haven't learned from the past, why they continue to delude themselves over and over. Isn't a mark of intelligence the ability to learn from experience? The resistance to that learning is fueled by motivations that are enormously complex; they include economic factors (read oil), a desire to believe that things can be better, a longing to be noted in history as someone able to achieve peace, and a great deal more.

[] Last week PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Bush. While there was private dissension regarding inclusion of Hamas in the political process, publicly Bush praised Abbas -- apparently in an attempt to bolster his position before the PA elections. The president declared himself a "heck of a lot more confident" of peace prospects with Abbas in charge. The question is, why? There is no solid evidence for such a statement.

Actually, Bush went even further, calling Abbas "a man of peace."

In his commentary -- -- Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA put it well:

"To Mahmoud Abbas' credit, from the very first day he recognized that when it comes to the Palestinians, the Bush team isn't really serious about security compliance. That the White House is more interested in the melody than the lyrics.
"That's why Abbas can consistently say flat out that he has no intention to confront the illegal armed militias and it doesn't matter.
"That's why Abbas could make it perfectly clear - as he stood next to President Bush in the White House today - that he has no intention to collect weapons before the elections.
"And that's why Abbas can repeatedly explain that, at best, his idea of 'one gun' is that ultimately all the terrorists generously agree to be on the PA's payroll.
"Sure, Mr. Bush talks the talk about the need for the Palestinians to fight terror - but his carefully crafted remarks, wrapped in praise for Abbas, are bereft of any clear timetable or measurable standards for action."
It should be noted that, according to WorldNetDaily, during his private meeting with Bush, Abbas asked him to put pressure on Israel to release Marwan Barghouti, founder of Al Aksa Brigades, who is serving several life sentences for his involvement in killing of Israelis. Securing the release of Barghouti would earn Abbas considerable points on the Palestinian street.

[] On Monday of this week, the headline at the top of The Jerusalem Post read: "PA says it plans to disarms Aksa Martyrs Brigades."
The line below this explained: "Gunmen to be incorporated into security forces."
Rather takes the breath away. Already there is considerable difficulty with "security forces" who shoot it up when discontented (remember the police who recently entered the PA Legislative Chambers shooting because of anger about something), or cooperate with terrorists. Putting Al Aksa gunmen into PA security forces doesn't disarm them! It simply puts different, more official guns into their hands. Yet according to the Post report, PA officials said that Abbas had presented this plan to Bush last week and that the president had approved: "The president welcomed the security plan." "Security plan"?
This is what Aaron Lerner was referring to when he wrote of a situation in which "ultimately all the terrorists generously agree to be on the PA's payroll..." Lerner has a way with words.

[] Lest there still be doubt about PA intentions, we have this news as well: The Palestinian Authority, in the face of a severe financial crisis, has announced that Yasser Arafat's tomb in the Mukata (presidential headquarters) in Ramallah will be completely redone. There will be a mausoleum, a monument, a mosque and a museum, which will house such revered artifacts as Arafat's keffiyeh (that head scarf he always wore in public) and pistol. All will be developed magnificently, with a large garden surrounding the area. The cost: Estimated at $1 million. I'm certain that hungry Palestinians won't mind this expenditure, as long as they can now go visit Arafat's keffiyeh.
Beyond the matter of horrendous financial misjudgement, there is another issue not to be missed here: The PA is choosing to venerate arch-terrorist Arafat rather than diminish his memory and educate the populace to focus in other directions. This speaks volumes about PA intentions regarding continuity of Arafat's goals. Aren't there numerable instances in modern history of new more enlightened regimes coming into power and knocking down statues of tyrants of an earlier time? Not the case, here. There IS no new regime.
Can Bush and company truly have missed all of this, or do they simply pretend to?

[] In a public statement yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to ease conditions at border crossings at the Gaza Strip and lift restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Considering recent evidence of terrorist activity -- smuggling of weapons and personnel -- when borders are opened, and the drive-by shooting of three young Israeli innocents by Palestinians in West Bank when a checkpoint was removed, I can only say she has some nerve. The message, as I read it, is that a few more Israeli lives here and there are of no great consequence, as long as, in Rice's words, "the kind of economic program we all want to see in the Palestinian territories" can proceed.
Rice's statement preceeded a meeting in Cairo between Israeli officials and Egyptian President Mubarak.
Now today the news is that Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz and Mubarak have agreed that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt will be opened in a month. Apparently this will be done with a third party monitoring, details still to be worked out.

Mofaz said that "I definitely see a change in Egyptian actions for the better, a move that will influence future security cooperations." Remember that Egypt turned a blind eye in all the years that arms were smuggled from Egypt into Gaza, and that 750 Egyptian border police stood by and did nothing as chaos ensued at the crossing after Israel pulled out. But, rest assured, Mofaz says Egypt is now going to take a stronger stand against smugglers.

Reportedly, the easing of border restrictions was agreed to by both sides in order to strengthen Abbas's position before the election.


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