Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Israel's Illusion, the Arabs' Abyss

[Published July 2006]

Israel's belief that unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza would end Arab intransigence and bring about a resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict has turned out to be an illusion.

Instead it has opened up an abyss, which threatens to swallow up Lebanon and Gaza in its wake and set back the development of their societies and economies by at least 20 years.

Syria is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Shiites seeking refuge as Israel continues its determined assault to end Hezbollah's reign of terror in Lebanon.

Emboldened by what was perceived as Israeli weakness and exhaustion, Hezbollah and Hamas quickly asserted their authority within the areas vacated by Israel, claiming this was the first step in the ultimate destruction of the Jewish State.

The Governments of Lebanon and Gaza chose to tolerate rather than confront and root out these terrorist entities.

Both Governments were strongly supported by their civilian populations.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah openly held court in Beirut. Its headquarters were well known to Lebanese authorities and the media had no trouble in locating their leaders for frequent interviews as they took every opportunity to applaud the targeted murder of hundreds of Israeli citizens and foreign nationals.

They lived openly within Lebanese society and were elected to Government and held cabinet portfolios. This could not have happened without popular support.

Large shipments of missiles and weaponry were routinely unloaded at Lebanese ports in full view of customs, military and police authorities and transhipped through Lebanon to launching sites and military depots in South Lebanon for ultimate use against Israel.

In Gaza frequent demonstrations by tens of thousands of men, women and children marching behind hooded and well armed terrorists burning Israeli and American flags and effigies of Sharon and Bush, clearly indicated Hamas was held in awe, not disgust, by the civilian population among whom was hidden the military stockpile of rockets and explosives.

Hamas was elected to power in Gaza by the overwhelming majority of Gazans whilst Hezbollah established an autonomous State within a State in Lebanon, both clearly expressing their continuing refusal to recognise the sovereign existence of Israel.

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah and Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh believed the time was now ripe to flex their muscles to procure the release of hundreds of convicted terrorists held in Israeli prisons in exchange for a few Israeli soldiers. This had worked very well before with thousands of prisoners being released by Israel in return for the remains of a few dead soldiers and the release of one businessman of dubious reputation.

What better way for Hezbollah and Hamas to retain the support and hopes of their civilian populations than securing the release of husbands and children who could then be enlisted once again to repeat the missions that had led to their imprisonment in the first place.

However kidnapping three Israeli soldiers by incursions into sovereign Israeli territory proved the downfall for these terrorist groups. Such brazenness was the breaking point -- the red line -- that these terrorist groups had not expected their actions would provoke.

Rather than getting expected negotiations by intermediaries to procure the exchange of prisoners, Hezbollah and Hamas unleashed Israel's military might as it entered Lebanon and Gaza in hot pursuit to free its soldiers with the full authority of international law firmly behind it.

Again completely misreading Israel's intentions, both Hezbollah and Hamas started firing rockets into Israel leading to Israel's re-entry into Gaza in force and massive retaliation on Lebanon's infrastructure -- roads, bridges, airports and ports -- which had served as the supply lines for Hezbollah from Syria and Iran

This time international criticism of Israel's right to defend itself has been muted and even Arab countries have been critical of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Israel now carries the world on its shoulders as it alone seeks to implement Resolution 1559 of the United Nations Security Council calling for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. This will result in the loss of Israeli lives and many casualties as an impotent United Nations does nothing to assert and enforce its own resolutions.

The civilian populations of Lebanon and Gaza have now paid and will continue to pay a huge price for the trust and belief they placed in their would be Saladdins to remove the Jewish State once and for all.

Some have suggested these civilians are innocent victims who did not have the strength to overthrow their oppressors. If true, one would imagine Israel's actions would have brought forward at least some expressions of support from within Lebanon and Gaza. Not a single word has been heard.

The Arab League has now finally pronounced the Road Map proposed by Bush, Putin, Chirac and Annan as "dead". The League is three years behind the times but at least it now recognises the futility of a plan that never had the slightest chance of getting off the drawing board.

So where does the Middle East go from here?

There is but one avenue now -- the removal of Hezbollah and Hamas followed by trilateral negotiations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt on the future sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza.

Perhaps the Arab League will at long last realise the folly of trying to wipe Israel off the map and take these positive steps to end the ongoing 120 year conflict that is now bringing suffering on a scale to their constituency that even they could never have contemplated.

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