Commentary: Why has Israel launched "Operation White Flag?"
Aaron Lerner Date: 2 July 2006
Unless COS Halutz, DM Peretz, PM Olmert and the rest of the team are engaged
in a perfectly choreographed operation to trick the Palestinians into
dropping their guard it would appear that instead the team is preparing the
Israeli public for a prisoner exchange with the Qassams continuing to rain
down until one manages to kill enough people that action might be taken - or
No. Israel won't trade Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shalit.
But what if a week or two after Shalit's return Israel should decide - in a
move to bolster Mahmoud Abbas' status - to release hundred of prisoners with
this having absolutely nothing to do with the return of Shalit? (wink
That's the plan that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been trying to
work out. And Israel is praising him for his efforts. The catch appears to
be that Hamas doesn't want to rely on Mubarak's guaranty that Israel with
fill their side of the bargain.
With COS Halutz saying that IDF operations alone can't free Shalit, DM
Peretz explaining that there is no "magic solution" to fighting terror and
the assessment carefully leaked from the meeting of the Olmert Government
that the whole mess could take months to resolve, Israel sends a clear
message to Hamas that it is, indeed, preparing the public to accept a
prisoner exchange - subject of course to it being carried out under a
Yes, DM Peretz fired off yet another 3 ton warning - saying that Israel
considers all the Hamas leadership to be fair game. But with Israel Air
Force chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy proudly explaining that even a
terrorist about to fire a Qassam won't be stopped if he holds his son's hand
while he launches the rocket, the Hamas leadership hardly has a reason to
fear as long as they keep a child or two within arm's reach.
How did this happen? How did Israel lose its momentum?
It isn't just that PM Olmert and DM Peretz are no longer able to procreate.
Part of the problem is that Olmert, Peretz and many of the professionals
involved in handling the situation genuinely believe that retreat to the '67
border would herald an era of peace and tranquility. The problem isn't the
Arabs but instead the Israeli public that must be taught, step-by-step, that
all alternatives to full retreat are futile.
Yes, Hamas says they won't accept such an Israeli retreat. Yes, the
National Conciliation Document makes it clear that both Fatah and Hamas
insist on destroying Israel via the exercise of the right of return. But
the retreat to the '67 border crowd is convinced that they know better than
the Arabs. Even if the retreat initially promises only a few months of
quiet, they argue, the Palestinians will be overwhelmed with joy with their
new situation during the lull and abandon their demands as they channel all
their energies into building the new Palestinian state.
Or so the argument goes.
Given that the team is ambivalent about the importance of an Israeli victory
in this episode, they then readily embrace the favorite excuse for a lack of
intestinal fortitude: fear of sanctions.
The spinners in the Olmert team set up this situation by first making it
known that Israel can only act if Uncle Sam gives the nod, thus making it
clear to Washington that it should pressure the Jewish State not to act
decisively as the White House may find itself sharing the blame in Arab eyes
It was then only a matter of time before the fear of UN sanctions would be
raised by those in the know to justify inaction.
But does Israel really risk sanctions any more than it did when it carried
out Operation Defensive Shield (which included a media circus over the Jenin
With elections coming up in November would the Bush administration really
not impose a veto at the UN if Israel took the kind of decisive action that
many Americans are frankly puzzled Israel isn't carrying out already given
No. It simply isn't true that Israel needs to be able to show rows of
bodies shredded by a Qassam hit in order to "sell" decisive action to the
And if the Olmert team honestly feels that that is the case, then they are
in the wrong profession.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
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