Tuesday, August 16, 2005
This isn't a great attitude with which to approach the coming post-disengagement phase, which is going to boil down to Palestinians testing whether Sharon will actually follow through with this promised severity. Given our history of red-line smudging, their perception of our resolve is not helped by sending out the vibe, "Please, international community, please control the Palestinians so we won't have to."
When Sharon said that responses to further attacks would be 'more severe than ever,' he was signalling that he intends to begin acting according to the new rules. The international community's job will be to do its best to ensure he does not have to, by imposing new levels of diplomatic and economic pressure on the Palestinians that, together with Israeli deterrence, force dramatic changes in their behavior.
This vibe also seems to be coming from the military, as Haaretz reports:
Peace talks? As Wayne used to say, "Shyeah right."
The Director of Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze'evi, warned Tuesday that terrorist activity may renew in April if peace talks stall after the disengagement.
Frankly, I'll be shocked if it takes even that long before the various Palestinian terrorist militias give in to temptation, slipping at least a tentative toe across the new boundary line -- and probably a whole shoe bomb to go with it. There is no way sending them terse State Department telegrams, retired four star generals, and determined French diplomats is going to keep their collective finger off the detonator. In recent history, Israel's mere loosening of restrictions at a border crossing has been like a magnet for suicide vests. There is little reward in trying to cajole terrorists into peacefully accepting a change they'd much rather blow up.
What I'd rather see from the international community is simple silence. Silence when the inevitable conflict returns. This time, let's not suffer through years of finely calibrated escalations of death and destruction before Operation Angry Boot is taken out of the drawer. If that is Sharon's message, fine, otherwise let Peres take over to handle the groveling.