Who is George W. Bush to talk about military actions? Bush has the gall
to criticize Israel for trying to assassinate Abdel Aziz Rantisi, political
head of Hamas. White House spokesman Scott McClellan just called Hamas an
"enemy of peace." And we know what Bush does to enemies. Let's not forget,
that he sent in the American military to take over a country - Iraq - basically
just to get one person, Saddam Hussein!
According to a recent five-week Associated Press investigation, there are
at least 3,240 civilian war casualties across Iraq, although the figure is
disputed. "Did the Americans bomb civilians? Yes. But one should be realistic,"
said Dr. Hameed Hussein al-Aaraji, the new director of Baghdad's al-Kindi
Hospital. "Saddam ran a dirty war. He put weapons inside schools, inside
mosques. What could they do? It was a war," he said. "This is the price of
Commenting on the Rantisi attack, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz said that President
Bush would never take such a stand regarding American citizens facing terror,
noting that the difference between Israeli and American operations is that
while Israel waited for an opportunity to hit Rantisi with a minimum of peripheral
damage, an American operation would simply have dropped a bomb on top of
Rantisi's house, killing everyone there. It was also reported on Israel TV,
that Israeli helicopters used smaller missiles to minimize civilian casualties.
Had they used the larger standard missiles, when Rantisi fled the car, it
wouldn't have helped him, and he certainly would have been killed.
At the recent Aqaba summit in Jordan, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Abbas called for an end to the armed uprising. Following Aqaba, the Palestinian
terrorist groups - Hamas included - announced that they would continue their
terrorist atrocities against Jews. Hamas and the others vowed not to disarm.
"We will never be ready to lay down arms until the liberation of the last
centimeter of Palestine [till the end of Israel]," Rantisi said. Abbas wanted
to talk with Hamas after Aqaba, but was rebuffed. Rantisi said, "We reject
any meeting with Mahmoud Abbas until he abandons all commitments to his Aqaba
statement." So Rantisi made himself fair game. He has in fact been fair game
for quite a while already. Even acting opposition leader, Labor MK Dalia
Itzik, said the night of the assassination attempt on Israel TV, "I don't
know why Israel waited so long?" So why exactly is Bush so upset? It threatens
his roadmap? Well, Rantisi threatens the lives of many, many Israelis!
Just to prove how defiant and dangerous he is, speaking from his hospital
bed after the attack, Rantisi threatened revenge, "We will continue with
our holy war and resistance until every last criminal Zionist is evicted
from this land. By G-d we will not leave one Jew alive in Palestine. We will
fight them with all the strength we have. This is our land, not the Jews,"
he told the Arab TV satellite station Al-Jazeera.
Rantisi also called on all Palestinian terrorist groups to "kill Israeli
political leaders," while his movement issued a statement demanding Abbas'
Palestinian Authority freeze all contacts with Israel. He also said that
George Bush is "the biggest terrorist of all" for encouraging Sharon. So
it's a zero-sum game. Let people like Rantisi live and 'work' and Jews die;
many, many Jews die. Or, assassinate him - what Israel call a 'targeted killing'
- and save Jewish lives. Not a very difficult equation even for someone poor
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, speaking after the attempted assassination,
made clear Israel would not restrain its troops from retaliating against
the terror groups, despite American efforts to push forward the peace plan,
inaugurated by Bush, Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba. Israel will "continue to
fight the heads of the extremist terrorist organizations, those who initiated,
those who fund, and those who send terrorists to kill Jews," Sharon said.
When asked about the attack on Rantisi, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister
Sharon, Raanan Gissin said, "He is an enemy of peace, an enemy of everyone
who seeks peace in the Middle East. We actually are saving the peace process
by trying to take out such people." He accused Rantisi of plotting the recent
terrorist attack by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Brigades that killed
four Israeli soldiers in Gaza.
According to Israel's Channel 2 Correspondent Udi Segal, Israeli officials
say that in addition to Hamas leader Rantisi, who was targeted and wounded,
Israel has also decided to kill the top man in the Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.
But strangely Abbas didn't see it the same way. "Palestinian Prime Minister
Mahmoud Abbas condemned the criminal and terrorist Israeli attack today,
"Abbas's office said in a statement issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Notice killing terrorists is now 'criminal.'
Gissin also said that Israel was forced into such action because Abbas was
not stopping the attacks as required by the roadmap. Israel had demanded
a quick response from PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas following the recent
deadly attack in Gaza. An Israeli government spokesman said after that attack,
that future terrorist acts would "destroy the road map" and the peace process.
Israel said Abbas must immediately begin arresting terrorists, break up their
organizations and disarm the Palestinians. But Abbas stated at a Monday news
conference - after Aqaba and the attack on the soldiers - that he would try
to persuade the terrorists to end their attacks, but he would not take them
on forcefully. Well, why not? That's what's he agreed to, in accepting the
The roadmap states, "In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an
unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below;
such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel."
All Israel did in attacking Rantisi was help Abbas and the PA a bit!
The roadmap continues, "Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence
and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt,
and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks
on Israelis anywhere...Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained,
targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged
in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.
This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation
of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption. "
Let me repeat, "...undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt,
and restrain...Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained,
targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged
in terror..." That doesn't include taking them on - Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
and the others - forcefully? And didn't Abbas just promise at the Aqaba summit,
"We will exert all of our efforts using all of our resources to end the militarization
of the intifada...The armed intifada must end..." If he really wants to steer
the Palestinian ship-of-state into peaceful waters, doesn't he have to fight
For some time now, there's been a debate within Israeli intelligence, as
to how close Sharon and the Israeli government should get to Abbas. In an
intelligence briefing just after Abbas was confirmed as prime minister, Israeli
intelligence recommended that the government not be seen as too supportive
of Abbas. They said that Arafat is still overwhelmingly popular in the Palestinian
street; that Mahmoud Abbas has little popular support, and if he's seen to
be too close to Israel, he would be branded a collaborator. Let me remind
you here, that the term 'collaborator' when used by the Palestinians is a
death sentence. For years, since the Palestinian Authority took over in Gaza
and parts of Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - they've been using the accusation
of 'collaborating with Israel' for everything from killing off the local
criminals, to settling clan disputes. Dozens if not hundreds of Arabs have
been killed by their own people through the accusation of being a collaborator.
And that gets to the gist of it -- why should Israel keep Mahmoud Abbas at
arms length? Why should Israel not want to be seen supporting Abbas over
Yasser Arafat? Why worry about Abbas being labeled a collaborator? Isn't
that what 'Peace' between the Israelis and Palestinians means? Israel and
Palestine living peacefully side-by-side, and extremists like Hamas, Islamic
Jihad, Arafat himself, and his Fatah sponsored Al-Aqsa Brigades and Tanzim,
disarmed, criminalized, sidelined, or eliminated. Terrorism stops, negotiations
continue and the Palestinians get a state. Doesn't PA Prime Minister Abbas
want to be a peace collaborator?
They've been playing this game since the signing of the first Oslo agreement.
Arafat and the Palestinian Authority already committed themselves to an end
to violence and incitement against Jews and Israel. They were given weapons
to create a 'strong police force' to instill law and order in their areas,
and to suppress the terror groups. Then we found out that Arafat and the
PA were directly involved in funding and planning many of the attacks, and
did nothing to suppress Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others. So, Israel
and America - pulling Europe along scratching and kicking all the way - sidelined
Arafat, and pressured the Palestinians into appointing a prime minister,
Abbas. The Quartet - the US, EU, UN, and Russia - whipped out their roadmap
for peace, and Bush rushed off to two summits, one with the Arabs in Sharm
El-Sheikh, Egypt and one with Israel and the PA in Aqaba. Well, doesn't that
make Abbas a 'collaborator' for peace? What good will he be, how will he
be any different from Arafat, if he can't be too close with Israel, if he
can't suppress the terrorists?
But the Americans, like Abbas, also see it differently, "We are concerned
that this type of activity [attacking Rantisi] will delay the plan of progress
we are hoping for as we move down the road map," Secretary of State Colin
Powell told a news conference in Buenos Aires. Bush told reporters,
"I am concerned that the attacks [against Rantisi and other terrorist leaders]
will make it more difficult for Palestinian leadership to fight off terrorist
Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Bush was
"deeply troubled" by the attack. "The president is concerned that the strike
will undermine efforts by Palestinian authorities and others to bring an
end to terrorist attacks and does not contribute to the security of Israel,"
the White House spokesman told reporters. Let me see if I've got that. According
to Bush, trying to kill terrorists will undermine efforts to bring an end
to terrorist attacks and does not contribute to the security of Israel. I
think I got it!
Yet at Aqaba, Bush said, "Prime Minister Abbas recognizes that terrorist
crimes are a dangerous obstacle to the independent state his people seek...He
has promised his full efforts and resources to end the armed intifada. He
has promised to work without compromise for a complete end of violence and
terror." So why does it bother Bush, why is he "Deeply troubled" if Israel
helps Abbas a bit?
Well, it comes down to this. Do Abbas and the Palestinians really want peace
with Israel? Does the rest of the Arab world? Are the Americans and others
being honest brokers? If so, then 'collaborating' with Israel should be seen
as an honorable occupation, just like Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of
Jordan were involved in. If it's 'collaborating' with all the filth and traitorousness
the word implies to most Palestinians, then don't expect peace anytime soon.
As a matter of fact, just after the Aqaba summit, thousands demonstrated
in Gaza to protest "the treasonous speech" of the PA prime minister.
And we have a glimpse of their true feelings. Recently, the results of a
Pew Global Attitudes Project opinion poll - taken in May 2003 - of 15,000
citizens of eight Arab and Muslim countries Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan,
Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria and Morocco and the Palestinian Authority were
published. These results show what the real obstacle to peace is. 80% of
Palestinians agreed with the statement: "The rights and needs of the Palestinian
people cannot be taken care of as long as the State of Israel exists." 90%
of Moroccans, 85% of Jordanians and 72% of Kuwaitis also agreed with the
statement, as did solid majorities in Lebanon, Pakistan and Indonesia. The
State of Israel needs to be destroyed?
I personally don't believe the Palestinians and the Arab/Muslim world want
peace with Israel. I believe the polls, I hear their statements, and I see
their murderous actions. But for those Israeli leaders like Sharon who are
still trying to make peace, and those Americans and Europeans working so
hard to bring the two sides together, I can only wonder, why they don't want
Abbas to become a peace collaborator. The PA under Mahmoud Abbas's leadership
must begin to fight Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the half a dozen other terror
groups. I personally don't think they will. But if they really want peace,
they should appreciate Israel's contribution to the effort. The attack on
Rantisi was just such an example. Maybe in the near future Israeli helicopter
gunships, with PA ground forces will be working together to eliminate the
terrorist menace. OR MAYBE NOT!
not forget what the Palestinians call, being a collaborator, the rest of
the world calls making peace. So I say, "MAKE ABBAS INTO A COLLABORATOR!"
Or know, that peace just ain't comin' too soon!
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant.
He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis.
His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites,
in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.
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