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Friday, February 23, 2007

Ze'ev Schiff: Lest the sword slip from our hand

Lest the sword slip from our hand
By Ze'ev Schiff

Haaretz 23 February 2007

When Yaakov Peri stepped down as chief of the Shin Bet, in 1994, Jibril Rajoub, then head of Preventive Security Services in the West Bank, called Peri to express his sorrow. "This is a terrible blow to the security of the state!" said Rajoub. The state he was talking about was Israel. And the fact of the matter is that Rajoub, in his day, did work hard to prevent the second Intifada.

This same Jibril Rajoub has now appeared on television and shocked his Israeli acquaintances with the remark that in the end, the Palestinians will recover every inch of land between the river and the sea. Rajoub's standing
is no longer what it was, but this sudden, Hamas-style declaration undermines our trust in the statements made by so-called "moderate" Palestinians.

With all due respect to my Palestinian friends, I can only conclude from these remarks that we must shut our ears when the Palestinians scatter promises about wanting to live alongside Israel. It is not words that matter, but deeds, and deeds alone.

Another shocking phenomenon emerges from the appalling account of former cabinet minister and senior Fatah official Sufian Abu Zaida, in an interview with Haaretz correspondent Avi Issacharoff (February 5). Abu Zaida described how his neighbor, a colonel in the PLO, and his nephew, were executed. First they were shot in the legs, and finally in the back, with the gunmen telling jokes while pulling the trigger. Before they shot the nephew, they tried to make him drink acid.

On a previous occasion, Abu Zaida's house was firebombed, and an attempt was made to kidnap his son. "Do you understand how much they hate us?" asked Abu Zaida. "The chances for peace with Israel are greater than the chances for peace between Hamas and Fatah."

Sheik Ra'ad Salah, head of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, should be reading this. In his fury over the work at the Mugrabi Gate, he repeatedly accused the Israelis of being "murderers." But Sheik Ra'ad knows, of course, what the whole world knows and can see on TV: Arabs in Iraq are brutally murdering other Arabs, most of them innocent. Sometimes they even kill them at prayer, and destroy mosques. Sheikh Ra'ad knows what members of the Islamic Movement in Algeria did to tens of thousands of citizens, including women and children, just a few years ago. But in his eyes, Israelis are the murderers.

There is only one conclusion, and Moshe Dayan already said it in his eulogy over the grave of Roi Rutenberg, who was murdered by Arabs from Gaza in the 1950s: "This is our life's choice: to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword slip from our hand and our lives be cut down."

When ex-Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy says Israel doesn't need the recognition of Hamas, he is shifting the focus of the argument. He is getting into the fundamental, the moral and the diplomatic. The key issue here, and our primary concern, is the continuation of terror; today manifested in the continued rocket fire, the refusal to release Gilad Shalit, the attempts to carry out suicide bombings and the massive smuggling of arms. Bringing an end to these things constitutes part of the Quartet's demands.

Of course Israel must help Mahmoud Abbas, and through him, the suffering Palestinian people. But it cannot participate in a sneaky attempt by Hamas to use a moderate and positive-thinking man like Salam Fayad, who would have been the finance minister in a unity government, to put aid money into the hands of Hamas ministers, including those heading the movement's military wing.

Having a moderating force in the Gaza Strip and within the Palestinian Authority is in Israel's interest, but it is not enough. Israel must also insist that the Palestinians pass the critical test of reining in terror and fully abide by all agreements

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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