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Friday, May 25, 2007

Clueless Martin Indyk or clueless Israel government ??

A very interesting inteview with ex-ambassador to ISrael Martin Indyk, at CFR:

He is asked:

Why doesn't Israel send its troops into Gaza and clean them out?

His reply:

It may eventually lead to that; in fact, it probably will. But since the intifada broke out in October 2000, Israel has been very reluctant to send its army into the cities and refugee camps of Gaza. But in April 2002, [former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon sent the army into the West Bank where it remains to this day, and basically destroyed the infrastructure of terror there quite effectively. It did not do this in Gaza, and hasn't yet; the reasoning as I understand it is that the suicide bombings were not coming from Gaza, they were coming from the West Bank. The cost in terms of Israeli soldiers' lives and the lives of Palestinian civilians would be very high in the kind of cleanup operation that you're talking about.

Increasingly, cabinet ministers in Israel are talking privately and even publicly about going in, cleaning it out, and withdrawing in favor of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces, or some other international forces, that are capable of coming in behind Israel's withdrawal and exercising control there. I personally find this fascinating because four years ago I thought that was the best solution in Gaza, and advocated a trusteeship for Gaza and the West Bank, in which international forces would intervene under a UN mandate, and basically create the conditions and oversee the building of the institutions of government for an independent Palestinian state in a transition arrangement. The Israelis at the time, except for those on the far left, thought this was a terrible idea. But the Israelis learned from the experience in Lebanon over last summer, where they did not exactly go in and clean out Hezbollah, but nevertheless when they withdrew, a more robust international force was put in place in southern Lebanon, which moved Hezbollah away from the border and made it more difficult for Hezbollah to operate against Israeli settlements in the northern part of Israel.

If Israeli Ministers are really considering that, they are nuts. In the first place, no international force will have the intelligence capability of the IDF and none are willing to do it anyhow. In general, all of his ideas sound like a utopian nightmare, unrelated to the reality of chaos in Gaza. A Nato or American or UN force in the West Bank and Gaza would look something like a coalition force in Iraq or a Nato force in Afghanistan. Who wants that?

Secondly, what Israel learned from Lebanon, or should have learned, is that we got a disaster because we started a war without thinking of how to finish it. Nobody with half a brain would repeat that fiasco. If the Israeli government does it, and you come to me complaining about my bad prophetic abilities, I will respectfully ask that you read the first part of that sentence again.

Ami Isseroff

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