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October 04, 2002 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

options after the next suicide bombing even more
limited," Indyk wrote.
Israeli intelligence officials are convinced that
some Palestinian groups will try to exploit Israel's
dilemma by escalating violence before and during an
American attack on Iraq. Indeed, one reason Sharon
gave for besieging Arafat's headquarters was to show
that Israel would not allow its hands to be tied. That
effort clearly boomeranged, and Israel now finds
itself worse off from a deterrent point of view.
Addressing the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee on Oct. 1, Defense Minister
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer admitted that "cardinal mis-
takes" had been made in the siege: No one had
anticipated the vehemence of the American
response, he said, as a result of which "our freedom
of action has been curtailed."
The same constraints could encourage Hezbollah
terrorists to open hostilities on Israel's northern border.
But analysts insist that Washington would not restrain
Israel in the same way if Hezbollah bombarded Israel's
northern towns and villages. "Hezbollah knows this,
and so do their Syrian and Iranian patrons," said Ze'ev
Maoz, a strategic analyst at Tel Aviv University.
Still, the Lebanese for weeks have been exploiting
Israeli restraint in the run-up to an Iraq war to divert
the Wazzani River to irrigate villages in southern

Israel Insigijit

THE ISSUE

The Palestinian leadership expressed anger this
week when President George W. Bush signed a
bill that calls for the U.S. government to recog-
nize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Yet Jerusalem has
been Israel's capital since its creation in 1948, and
will remain so in the opinion of the vast majority
of Israeli Jews.

BEBIND THE ISSUE

Although divided until 1967, Jerusalem has always
been 1).e capital of the Jewish state. Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak's government in 1999-2000
offered to negotiate the status of some heavily Arab
neighborhoods of Jerusalem, but never considered
reducing the city's status as the Israeli capital.

-- Allan Gale, Jewish Community Council
of Metropolitan Detroit

Lebanon. After an initial bellicose warning, Sharon
acknowledged in late September that, because of
Iraq, the time was not right for military action, and
he said Israel would have to try to resolve the prob-
lem in coordination with the United States. _

From left:

Palestinian leader Kisser
Arafat greets supporters
after emerging from his
Ramallah headquarters
after Israel's withdrawal
on Sept. 29.

Palestinian police check
. damage to Yasser Arafat's
compound.

Israeli Prime Minister •
Ariel Sharon, right, and
Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres attend a cabinet
meeting in Jerusalem on
Sept. 29.

According to left-wing critics of Sharon's govern-
ment, the Ramallah siege may have another negative
consequence for Israel: Arafat's resurrection as a pop-
ular hero may have slowed down moves toward
change in the Palestinian leadership, moves the
Israeli government says could help create a peace
partner on the other side.
Critics point out that Palestinian plans to discuss
the appointment of a prime minister alongside
Arafat, which were to have taken place in his
Ramallah compound, were postponed indefinitely
because of the siege. The day after the siege ended,
Knesset Member Ran Cohen of the Meretz Party
accused the Israeli government of having nipped
Palestinian reform plans in the bud.
But other analysts downplay the significance of
Arafat's return to center stage. His renewed popular-
ity may well prove fleeting, they say, noting that the
forces for change on the Palestinian side remain as
determined as ever.

Non-Violence Too

For one, Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abu
Mazen, the Arafat deputy mentioned as a potential
prime minister, continues to speak about non-vio-
lence and chart a new political course.
"There were many mistakes in this last intifada
(uprising), and turning to the use of arms against
Israel was the decisive one," Abbas said in an inter-
view this week on LBC, a Lebanese television chan-
nel. Turning the intifada into a peaceful, popular
struggle is "the only way to convince the world of
the justice of our cause," Abbas said.
So while some Palestinians may try to escalate vio-
lence to exploit Israel's current constraints, others are
talking non-violent resistance, hoping to exploit
American goodwill after a strike on Baghdad.
America may then want to rebuild ties with the
Arab world by pressuring Israel to make concessions
to the Palestinians, and a nonviolent Palestinian
leadership would be in a much better position to
press the advantage, the thinking goes.
Indeed, according to unconfirmed reports, Israeli
and Palestinian negotiators already are looking ahead
to the day after an attack on Iraq and are talking
peace in a secret channel that bypasses Arafat.
Sharon's representative is said to be outgoing Mossad
chief Ephraim Halevy.



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