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THIS WEEK: 3.06.05

Outgoing Chief Of Staff Yaalon - Paints Apocalyptic Picture Of Palestinian State Likud's Bibi Netanyahu Slams Sharon's Disengagement

Islamic Jihad Sends More Suicide Bombers - Israel Releases 398 More Palestinian Security Prisoners

Former Chief Of Staff Yaalon

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe 'Bogey' Yaalon retired this week warning that the Palestinians have not given up their campaign to destroy the Jewish state, one way or the other. In the ruling Likud party, Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu quoted Yaalon in declaring that he will vote against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip and 4 settlements in the northern West Bank. In a related development, Israeli security forces foiled an Islamic Jihad plot to send two suicide bombers into Jerusalem. This as Israel released 398 Palestinian security prisoners; they were actually arrested before they could kill or wound any Israelis.

'The Best Way Out, Is Through': Former Chief Of Staff Moshe Yaalon says the Palestinians still refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state. Not even Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who opposes terror but does nothing to halt the terrorists. How could Hamas be allowed to participate in the Palestinian elections without giving up its weapons? Yaalon expects the Palestinians will remain quiet until the withdrawal but if there is no Israeli commitment to continue pulling back on the West Bank, they will launch a new full-scale war of terrorism starting from Judea and Samaria. ‘If the Palestinians perceive Israel's withdrawal as fleeing, they will continue to come after you and they'll also put Tel Aviv & Jerusalem in their sights!’There may be a trickle of Palestinian fire during the actual withdrawal but if it's massive the IDF will be ready to move in massively. When asked how long the evacuation might take, Yaalon said it depended on whether 8,000 residents had to be evacuated from Gaza or maybe 50,000 protesters. It could lead to various scenarios and the government could take decisions during the operation. But was the disengagement a done deal? The general (ret.) replied: 'If and when we complete the move, we will talk about a done deal. 'Hamas was gaining strength in the Gaza Strip because Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas was corrupt. Hamas which vows to destroy Israel could eventually take over the Gaza Strip. Israel was strong enough to cope with Hamas but the situation would not lead to stability, it would be confrontational. Yaalon did not rule out the possibility of the IDF returning to the Gaza Strip. Overall, the Palestinians do not accept the idea of a Palestinian state living alongside the Jewish state; nor do they accept the 1967 lines. They talk of returning to Safed, Haifa and Tel Aviv. On the other hand, Gaza, Judea & Samaria could not become a viable Palestinian state. The two state solution would not lead to stability;' It is a story that the Western World tells through Western eyes, we are also sweeping it under the rug'.For his part, Yaalon did not see a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his generation. Yaalon's Conclusion. The creation of a Palestinian state in even 100% of the west bank would eventually lead to a new war by the Palestinians. The idea that a Palestinian state could be established during the current term of U.S. President George W. Bush was not only divorced from reality it was also dangerous. As long as the Palestinians did not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and give up what they call their right of return, it would be like building a house with a bomb inside and one day that bomb will explode. The former Chief of Staff said it was vital for Israelis, without illusions and false beliefs, to understand they still live in a society of struggle. The greatest existential threat to Israel was Palestinian and not Syrian, nor a nuclear Iran although Yaalon was also concerned about that.Footnote: While serving as IDF intelligence commander in 1999, Gen. Yaalon forecast that Yasser Arafat was planning to launch the Al Aqsa intifada although most of Israel was still basking in the Oslo euphoria that peace was just around the corner. Is Yaalon also right this time? His message seems to be that Israelis must be ready to go through a new test of fire with eyes wide open.

Forced Retirement: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accepted the request of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz not to extend Yaalon's term by the customary fourth year. This morning Sharon may regret that decision. Yaalon is widely held in the public's eyes as containing, if not defeating, the Palestinian intifada. Always politically correct, Yaalon never made his views known to the public and probably would not have if he had continued to serve as the IDF's top soldier. Nor was there any doubt that he would carry out orders to the best of his ability. His hard-hitting salves will now add ammunition to the anti-withdrawal camp.

Bibi Netanyahu - Too Little, Too Late:

Minister Netanyahu (Amit Shabi) (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Finance Minister Netanyahu who has been acting like a political 'Hamlet' over Sharon's disengagement, has now thrown down his gauntlet. Netanyahu opposed the withdrawal but previously voted for it in order to keep his job. He has now praised the outgoing Chief of Staff for courageously telling the true story. The Finance Minister says he will vote against in the last upcoming cabinet ballot on the withdrawal. But is the Finance Minister really playing to the Likud gallery? The time for trying to halt the disengagement has long passed; with Labor in the Cabinet, Sharon commands an overwhelming majority. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the withdrawal is a done deal at this stage. However, the latest poll by the Maariv newspaper indicates the public's support for the withdrawal has dropped from 59% to 50% this week.As for the Prime Minister's office, it is apparently taking Netanyahu's show of defiance in stride. One official says the Finance Minister's position on the disengagement is not new. As for the Yaalon interview, Sharon had no illusions about Palestinian intentions and the Gaza pullout was in Israel's interest. The officials also say there are no plans for any unilateral withdrawals in Judea & Samaria and Sharon means what he says about the Palestinian Authority disarming Hamas before there are any negotiations on the Roadmap on any future withdrawals and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Meanwhile….

Palestinian Suicide Bombers & Released Prisoners:

Suicide Bombers (Hamas)

Appearing on a U.S. television network, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he believed the era of Palestinian suicide bombers had passed. This despite the fact that his security forces are doing nothing to stop them. Within two days, Israeli security forces uncovered a Palestinian terror cell on the West Bank plotting to infiltrate two suicide bombers into the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Five were arrested but the two bombers got away. The questioning of the terrorists lead to the capture of the two suicide bombers, one at a roadblock. They had orders to blow themselves in a crowded Israeli area such as inside a bus, restaurant or synagogue. Nonetheless, Israel kept her Sharm el Sheik promise and released 398 Palestinian security prisoners (two opted to serve out their sentences: one because he wanted to complete his matriculation examinations! The other stayed in prison because his brother was still behind bars). The prisoners freed did not have 'blood on their hands'; they had not murdered or injured Israelis. The fact is that many, if not most of those set free, were arrested before they managed to carry out a terror attack. In any case, the Palestinian Authority demands that Israel release all the several thousand terrorists still in prison. This as another terror atrocity was narrowly averted in Jerusalem.

David Essing

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