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Sunday, April 2, 2006
Weaker Israel: Election marks shift in counterterror alliance with U.S.

Weaker Israel: Election marks shift in counterterror alliance with U.S.
Geostrategy-Direct, www.geostrategy-direct.com, April 5, 2006
...

The United States has harbored mixed feelings for Olmert and his
predecessor, Sharon. President Bush has been pleased with Israel's
willingness to cooperate with the U ited States on virtually every major
issue, including Iraq, the Palestinians and arms exports.

At the same time, Bush and some of his aides have been quietly concerned
over the image of Israel as a country ready to withdraw in the face of
terrorism. Privately, le ding aides and strategists believe that Israel's
hesitancy to fight Hamas, Hizbullah and other terrorist groups could
encourage Al Qaida and those sworn to defeat the United States. They also
see Israel's failure to defeat Palestinian insurgents as encouraging Iran's
belligerency.

"Israel screwed us up with its unilateral withdrawal plan because this is
what is expected of us in Iraq," a senior Bush aide said in a recent private
conversation with a Republican House member. "But we can't be seen as
intervening."

As a result, urged by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and National S
curity Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Bush supported Sharon's plan for a
unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in
September 2005. Bush saw U.S. endorsement of Sharon's plan as a way to win
support in the Arab world that has long sought Israeli withdrawal.

Bush's attitude toward Israel has changed as well. Until 2002, Bush saw
Israel has a powerful ally of the United States and able to deter its
enemies. Today, the president sees Israel as weak and Bush has publicly
pledged to protect the Jewish state from an Iranian attack. Quietly, Israeli
defense officials dismiss Bush's pledge was little more than symbolic given
the start of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

"The feeling in both the administration and among belatedly among many
conservatives in Congress is that Israel has to accept the fate of a small
nation reliant on a superpower patron," a leading U.S. analyst who is close
to the administration said.

Olmert's win was expected to accelerate government preparations for
additional withdrawals from the West Bank. The military has begun drafting
plans for the expulsion of tens of thousands of Israelis from dozens of
Jewish communities in the area. The State Department has already encouraged
the Israeli plans.

But for Israel, the result could be years of bloodshed and even
insurrection. In February, more than 200 people, several of them seriously,
were injured in a clash between Israeli anti-riot and Jewish youngsters, who
sought to prevent the demolition of nine unlicensed buildings in the West
Bank. Days later, more than 90,000 people rallied in Jerusalem and pledged
to physically stop future withdrawals.

"Not everybody is the same," Amnon Danker, editor of the Israeli daily
Maariv, said. "There are differences of black and white, heaven and earth."

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