Gov’t tells IDF to return fire on any attack from Gaza

Posted: June 10, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Israel, Middle East, Own Articles, Politics, US

Merkava tank fired at a target

WHILE PRIME MINISTER’S office releases a statement, in which Netanyahu directly blames HAMAS for a recent foiled attack against Israel, defense officials instruct the IDF to respond to each and every attack coming from HAMAS-controlled area. News reports did not clarify how strong the response should be.

It would be interesting to see how exactly would Israel implement this strategy, with the White House pressuring Israel into concessions. Only today, Obama’s envoy to Middle East, George Mitchell said US would support Palestinians, by stating that the Administration supports Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations for a state”. In addition, Mitchell reiterated Obama’s intent to pressure Israel, saying he seeks “conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations”.

Mitchell’s mission, however, would be all but impossible, with even some on the left saying halt to settlements’ growth is not an option. Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas will not be actively supporting Mitchell’s mission, with only few official statement, as his role in this play is inexistent. Besides, Abbas prefers to keep low profile in this game, wait out the storm and see who the winner will be – Obama or Netanyahu. Thus, Mitchell cannot rely on Palestinian support, also because Palestinians have no way to provide any kind of political support to Obama’s emissary.

No doubt, Mitchell’s persuasion skills would be used on Israelis, but he is unlikely to reach results. Just like others before him – George Tenet, Martin Indyk, William Burns and many others – he, with all likeness, will fail.

Mitchell, however, is part of the problem – together with Obama and the Palestinians. It seems that Israeli Left and the US enjoy the Peace Process so much, they are reluctant to end it. After all: no way to get that famous without saying a thing or two about suffering of Palestinian refugees in Gaza (but hush – not a word about ones in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq). It is up to current US administration to change the tune, by understanding the root of the problem – that Palestinian and Arab hatred towards the Jews drives the conflict, not the other way around. While Palestinian had several occasions on which they could establish a state of their own, they always chose the hatred.

So what will Obama do now? Can he see behind the mask Abbas and Mashaal wear when facing the West? Not likely. It is Obama’s top priority to gain Arab support, and it mostly has nothing to do with Israel. While he would obviously enjoy the resolution of the conflict (being hailed a hero by most), his main goal is reconciliation with Arab/Muslim populations around the world, helping himself get out of Afghan and Iraqi mess.

Many Muslims view current US plans to withdraw from Iraq as a repetition of previous American engagement in Afghanistan. Back then, it was about Russians, not the Taliban; still, when US covert agents pulled out and US administration pulled the plug, Muslim mujahedin felt betrayed, returning to their countries of origins, some settling in the land they fought in.

The reaction on US’ pullout will depend, obviously, on what happens after the P-day – the day after last US troops leave the area. If Iraqi security forces would be able to secure the country and fight the terrorists – Muslims around the world will stay mostly quiet. However, if terror rises its head anew each day – the reaction will be fierce.

Same thing about Afghanistan. According to news reports, US made little progress there. Yes, they fought the Taliban out of control of the country; those, however, took their possessions and settled on Afghan-Pakistani border, engaging Allied forces daily. For Obama it is critical to win this fight – both from point of view of the modern world (Russia, China, Europe) and  the Arab world (particularly Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt). He believes his yellow brick road makes its way through the sands of Middle East. Not quite the walk Dorothy imagined.

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