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GAZA - PALESTINIAN ANTI-TANK ROCKET AT BUS OF ISRAELI PUPILS!

Israeli officials: 'We Expect Mahmoud Abbas To Take Action; If He Doesn't We Will!'

'Terror Groups Are Getting Bolder Because Abbas Not Confronting Them'

Latest Opinion Poll Gives PM Lower Approval Rating of 52% With Public Support For Withdrawal Also Slipping to 54%

Palestinian Terror At Large

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired an anti-tank missile at a bus of Israeli school children. Israeli officials have issued a stern warning to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to act before it is too late.A public opinion poll indicates the Israeli public is less enthusiastic about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's leadership and his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements now planned around mid-August. On the other hand, the poll by the Israeli daily Maariv, shows that Israelis are more upbeat about their personal security. David Essing reports on these issues and what Sharon says quietly about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Sharansky resignation and Israel's security border with Egypt.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip sent shock waves through Israel, when they fired an anti-tank rocket at a bus full of Israeli kids. Aside from the human tragedy, if the bus had blown the bus to smithereens the whole political process would probably have gone with it! Public opinion would certainly have demanded that Prime Minister Sharon order an immediate military retaliation. Some Israelis, who support the political process with the Palestinians are now asking what is Mahmoud Abbas waiting for? Others are now asking what is Ariel Sharon waiting for, it is folly to wait now until the terrorists do carry out an atrocity while Israel abides by the cease-fire and only intercepts 'ticking bombs'.Israeli officials said: 'We expect Mahmoud Abbas to take action, if he doesn't we will!'. The officials went on to say the terrorists are getting bolder because they see Abbas is not confronting them. And they add the attack on the school bus should be a clear warning to the Palestinian leader of the consequences of not cracking down on the terrorists.

  • Sharon's Popularity - Opinion poll shows Israel's Prime Minister Sharon and his withdrawal plan are losing popularity with the Israeli public. Sharon's approval rating has dropped by nearly 10 points since the Sharm el Sheik summit with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in February. Just a slim a majority of Israelis, 52 %, now feel Sharon is doing a good job. That compares unfavorably with 62% after the summit with Abbas. This is also reflected in a similar drop n public support for the upcoming withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements.The two polls are obviously linked: the reason is that Israelis were willing 'to give peace a chance' after Abbas pledged to maintain the ceasefire and rein in the terrorists. But the Palestinian leader is not delivering the good as most Israelis see it. A case in point is this killing of an IDF paratrooper Dan Talasnikov is a case in point. After the suicide bombing of the Tel Aviv night club that murdered 4 Israelis and the international criticism that followed, the Palestinian security service arrested the terrorist who planned the attack. Then a couple of weeks later, the terrorist mysteriously 'escapes' from a Palestinian jail. And where did Israel's Shabak Security Service track down the dangerous fugitive? Near the Palestinian town of Tul Kerem which Israel has just handed back to Palestinian security control. The paratroopers spotted two figures in a field but did not open fire first because IDF regulations stipulate that terrorists must be first identified. This hesitation cost Talasnikov his life. The two gunmen inside sleeping bags shot first killing the soldier and wounding another; the fugitive was killed and his accomplice wounded and taken prisoner.Following the incident, two Palestinian teenagers were shot and killed while throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers during a protest riot at a construction site of the West Bank security fence. Shabak Security Chief Avi Dichter has disclosed that the fence has drastically reduced the number of Israeli civilians being murdered by Palestinian suicide bombers. Israel was forced to build the fence at great expense due to the terror attacks. The route of the fence has been criticized because it was not built along the old green line of 1967. The critics argue that by building it inside the West Bank, this is where Israel sees the final border.
  • Question - if Israel were to build it along the old green line would this not be viewed, by the same logic, as Israel accepting the old '67 line as the new border? This although Israel and and the Palestinians have yet to negotiate where the final border should be? Would this not only have been a major Israeli concession but also a result of Palestinian terror attacks?
  • Palestinian Hutzpa - In addition to their machine guns, the two terrorists were also carrying an explosives belt for use by a suicide bomber. Nonetheless, Mahmoud Abbas charged that such Israeli 'provocations' were jeoparing the cease-fire . Moreover, sporadic Palestinian attacks are continuing including the launching of Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip across the border at the Israeli town of Sderot.The Shabak security service also warns that the terror organizations are rearming and regrouping for Intifada #3 after Israel's withdrawal. President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the middle of a crucial election campaign, is going nothing to dismantle the terror groups or confiscate their weapons and Qassams. Nonetheless Palestinian officials accuse Israel of reneging on the Sharm el Sheik agreement because she has released only 500 Palestinian prisoners and not handed over security control of 3 more Palestinian towns.
  • 'Israel Will Not Bleed For Mahmoud Abbas!' - A senior Israeli official recently declared that 'Israel has no intention of bleeding for Mahmoud Abbas!' The Palestinian leader has informed Israel that he requires 4 to 6 months to gain control of the terrorists. The implication is that Israel should be ready to absorb terror attacks for that period of time. Abbas charges 'The Israelis want us to spill Palestinian blood by trying to disarm Hamas and the others, we are not going to do that!' On the contrary, Abbas is trying to co-opt Hamas by bringing them into the Palestinian political process although the terrorists still keep their weapons and freedom to attack Israel when they see fit.The bottom line is that Abbas seems to be saying that Israel must be ready for Israeli blood to be spilled until he gets his house in order. This is apparently the rationale for the Israel official declaring 'Israel is not going to bleed for Mahmoud Abbas!'
  • Palestinian 'Good Guy - Bad Guy' - The Israeli public is fed up with the routine that was played to the hilt by Yasser Arafat. This is reflected in the latest opinion polls. Sharon is committed to giving Abbas a lot of rope but as IsraCast reported previously, if any of the Palestinian attacks or Qassam rocketing kill Israeli civilians, the Prime Minister will be forced to react despite international pressure to give Abbas more time.
  • Sharansky - Sharon confrontation: Before Natan Sharansky handed in his resignation, the former prisoner of Zion met with Sharon. Sharansky contended it was a big mistake to evacuate the Gaza Strip and 4 Samarian settlements. (Hear Sharansky audio interview) Far better to put the evacuation on hold and put Mahmoud Abbas to the test to see if he was on the level about halting terror and compromising on peace. The Prime Minister made clear that he doubts Abbas will take on the terrorists and that he 'can deliver the goods'. The PM gave the impression that it would simply be a waste of time. Moreover, the Quartet (the U.S., The European Union, Russia and the U.N.) would jump on the band-wagon and push for starting on the Roadmap. By continuing with his unilateral withdrawal Sharon has forestalled this threat. Moreover, Sharon IS putting Abbas to the test during the run-up and the actual withdrawal itself. Sharansky disagreed, the Israeli public was being torn asunder and even if Sharon doubts that Abbas will prevail against the terrorists, the risk is not worth taking. So, Sharansky bowed out. Some sources say Sharansky has won popularity points with the Likud central committee that he could cash in one day.

 

  • 'Plucked Chicken' - When Mahmoud Abbas served as Palestinian Prime Minister under Arafat, Sharon once referred to Abbas as a 'plucked chicken' - Arafat had tied his hands. So far, officials at the PM's office do not see any real change; "Although Abbas is now in the driver's seat, he just talks about where he wants to go and has not really started the engine or taken the wheel!'
  • Personal Security - The Maariv poll shows Israelis are much more upbeat about the threat from Palestinian terror attacks. Today, it has soared to 74%; just two months ago after the suicide bombing of the Tel Aviv nightclub it slipped to 55%. The poll covered the start of 2004, the low mark when 60 % of Israelis were really worried about their personal safety after a Palestinian bombing of an Israeli bus. So over the past year and a half, Israelis who feel they are getting decent protection from the security forces has nearly doubled. The relentless counter terror campaign launched by the IDF, the Shabak security service and the Israel Police put the terrorists on the run and liquidated its leadership starting with Sheik Ahmed Yassin. But during the current cease-fire, Israeli forces intercept only 'ticking bombs'.
  • 'Not one Egyptian soldier!' - During the peace negotiations with Egypt, then Prime
Gaza - Egypt

Minister Menachem Begin was adamant. Begin categorically rejected a proposal by President Anwar Sadat for some form of Egyptian Army presence in the demilitarized Sinai peninsula. Begin declared: 'Not one Egyptian soldier!' Begin was worried about this becoming the thin edge of the wedge in the future for more Egyptian forces to follow. On the other hand, for the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel lead by the right wing Likud, was ready to give back the last grain of sand at Taba, as demanded by Sadat.But while the geographical border between Israel and Egypt begins at Taba, the security frontier is something else. The demilitarization clause in the peace agreement puts some 200 kilometers away along the Suez Canal. This is a strategic asset of the first order providing Israel with a buffer zone that Egyptian tanks would have to cross before reaching Israel. This is why Prime Minister Sharon's proposal to replace Egyptian policemen with troops along the border aroused wall-to-wall opposition in the Knesset Foreign Affairs And Defense Committee this week. Israeli intelligence officials say the Egyptians could stop the Palestinian arms smuggling from their territory into the Gaza Strip if they really wanted to; for example, they foresee Egyptian security cracking down to prevent any repetition of the recent terrorist bombing in Cairo.Perhaps if Egypt had not adopted its policy of a 'cold peace' with Israel the reaction would be different. The Egyptian approach has been: 'In return for getting back Sinai we gave Israel a cold peace; in order to warm it up, Israel has to at least make a deal with the Palestinians'.

David Essing

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