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Shabak security chief Avi Dichter:’Right-wing fanatics may carry out Doom’s Day attacks to prevent disengagement.’

Analyst David Essing:‘Disengagement issue may have become internationalized like Iranian nuclear threat and Syria – Lebanon situation’

Shabak security chief Avi Dichter

Palestinian terror attacks have dropped, but the Jewish terror threats have soared over the controversial disengagement issue. That was the message from the country's top security officials Shabak security chief Avi Dichter, IDF Chief of Staff designate Dan Halutz, and police commissioner Moshe Karadie in a briefing to cabinet ministers. In the bigger picture, analyst David Essing is of the view that the disengagement question may now have been internationalized as part of US president George W. Bush's new multilateral approach to coping with Middle East flashpoints.

Right-wingers burning tires on Ayalon Freeway

Ayalon Freeway Incident - Realizing they have lost the political battle in the Cabinet and the Knesset, right-wingers have switched the campaign to the streets. They warn the tire burning that paralyzed the Tel Aviv highway during rush hour is just a spark, which will eventually ignite a firestorm of protest. The goal – to stymie the Gaza withdrawal. The situation could move swiftly from legitimate civil disobedience to illegal civil rebellion. Israel Radio has just reported that Shabak Security Chief Avi Dichter, Chief of Staff designate Dan Halutz and Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi warn of very dangerous scenarios. They warned that hard-core protestors might carry out a 'no holds barred' extreme violence. Cabinet officials were shocked by the briefing. Avi Dichter reportedly warned that Jewish extremists believe the assassination of Prime Minister Sharon could halt the evacuation and view this as a legitimate step. There is then a clear and present danger. Law enforcement authorities had hoped to hold off tough measures as near as possible to the July evacuation; the question is whether disengagement protestors will not force them to take drastic steps much earlier then they planned.

Sasson Report - Why did Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pick Talia Sasson, a brilliant, tough lawyer to investigate the 'illegal outposts scam'? Who, better than Sharon knew of all the skullduggery that went on over the years which included Labor governments as well. (In fact, shortly before Labor joined the National Unity government, Peace Now activists presented the Labor party caucus with aerial photos of how the outposts were popping up all over. Aside from the righteous indignation of some MKs, it was glossed over so as not to prevent Shimon Peres from steering Labor into the cabinet. A question by the way is where Peace Now came up with the detailed aerial photography; civilian aircraft are not allowed to take joy rides over the West Bank photographing as they choose.) Back to the Sharon – Sasson connection: by 'uncovering' the outposts' cover- up, the Prime Minister has focused public ire upon the settlers. Opinion polls indicate most Israelis want a stop put to the illegal outposts.In light of the damning Sasson report, why has the U.S. reaction been so low key? For the same reason as the left-wing Labor Party. The Bush Administration is backing Sharon all the way on the road to the evacuation. When asked about the possibility of an Israeli referendum, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this was an internal Israeli matter, however the U.S. would hope it would not delay the implementation of the evacuation, which is now part of the Roadmap. The Big Picture - U.S. President George W. Bush has succeeded in mending fences with European leaders during his recent visit. If Bush adopted a unilateralist approach after 9/11 and the war against terrorism, he has apparently shifted into multilateral gear in his second term. The American leader returned home from Paris and Berlin saying: 'We and our European friends are now talking with one voice'.

Iranian nuclear threat - Bush has agreed to go along with the British, French and German diplomatic moves before lowering the boom with severe sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.The last resort, and it seems inconceivable that Bush after invading Iraq, the U.S. would allow a no less dangerous regime in Iran to acquire 'the bomb'.

Syria- Lebanon: Lo and Behold! France and the U.S. are now leading a concerted international effort to kick the Syrians out of Lebanon. During the First Gulf war, former Syrian President Hafez Assad secured America's support for consolidating his domination of Lebanon. During the Second Gulf War, President Bashar Assad has managed to stir up a 'hornets nest' of opposition from both the Lebanese and the international community. Iraq: The Europeans have eased up on the U.S. after the recent elections. Israeli- Palestinian Conflict: During the first Bush term, there was no linkage with other Middle East developments including the war in Iraq. Ariel Sharon succeeded in foiling Yasser Arafat's bid to internationalize the conflict. However, with the death of Arafat and the appearance of the more moderate Mahmoud Abbas, what now appears to be evolving is just that – internationalization of the conflict. It is also the outcome of the new multilateral approach in the second Bush term. The Europeans, lead by Britain's Tony Blair, are insisting that the quid pro quo must be movement on the Israeli – Palestinian track, which like other Middle East sore spots poses a threat to their vital interests and the war against terrorism. Although Israeli politicians and pundits often like to discuss the conflict in local terms, it appears to be headed for international treatment no less than the Iranian nuclear threat and Syria's domination of Lebanon. That is probably why Sharon will turn over backwards to exude as much good will as he can to show Israel is doing her utmost to resolve the conflict. If the current effort with the Palestinians falls through, and no one can promise it will succeed, then Israel had better not be holding the bag.

If this analysis holds water, the question of a disengagement referendum is a moot point. For better or worse, Sharon has taken Israel beyond this point of no return in the eyes of the international community.

Government's fall: The Centrist Shinui party now appears to hold the key to torpedoing the budget and halting the disengagement. Shinui, a strong supporter of the withdrawal, still threatens not to vote for the budget because Sharon paid off some $67 million in ultra-orthodox demands. Now trying to climb off the branch they have crawled on to, Shinui is appealing to the Prime Minister for the proverbial ladder. Putting on a brave face, MK Avraham Poraz tells everyone who will listen, that if Shinui votes against the budget and Sharon falls, his successor will still be forced to carry out the evacuation. Never mind that Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has called on the Almighty to strike Sharon dead because of the disengagement!And now news that some right-wing fanatics may actually be planning just that.

The international community, with the US at the helm, appears galvanized to act on the Iranian nuclear threat, Syria – Lebanon and the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. Sharon has commited to Bush on the disengagement and in return he got a Bush promise to reject any attempt at an imposed settlement. At this stage, it appears that if the disengagement goes by the board so might the other part of the equation.

David Essing

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