Thursday, January 01, 2009

Israel rejects ceasefire move as divisions emerge in leadership.

Israel are resisting calls for a ceasefire with the US predictably aiding them in avoiding any UN resolution which might force their hand.

The US ambassador at the UN - who as one of the permanent Security Council members can veto any resolution - said that he believed it was up to Israel and Hamas themselves to agree to a ceasefire, and that the UN should not impose one.

There are, however, signs of a slight disagreement on tactics on the Israelis side.

Ehud Olmert remains opposed to any ceasefire:

"If conditions will ripen and we think there will be a diplomatic solution that will ensure a better security reality in the south, we will consider it. But at the moment, it's not there," an aide quoted Olmert as saying. "We didn't start this operation just to end it with rocket fire continuing as it did before it began. Imagine if we declare a unilateral ceasefire and a few days later rockets fall on Ashkelon. What will that do to Israel's deterrence?"

I personally think he means what will happen to his party's re-election chances should that scenario occur as that is what all of this is actually about.

Of course, they have been sure to deny that politics have anything to do with any of this:

Political considerations are not influencing the decision-making about the future of Operation Cast Lead, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak claimed Wednesday.

Though the February 10 general election is only 40 days away, Olmert and spokesmen for Livni and Barak said they were not considering the impact of military moves on the race. None of them denied that they disagreed about tactics for continuing the war, but they said the disputes were unrelated to politics.

But there are already reports that Olmert, Barak and Livni are at odds regarding how to proceed.

But political sources confirmed that there was a deep mutual mistrust between the three leaders that clouded their decision-making and that every little decision one of the three made was being scrutinized by the other two.

Two examples were Olmert's criticism of Barak's announcement to reporters that he was considering a cease-fire and disputes between the three of them over their separate press statements Saturday.

"When Menachem Begin was prime minister, decisions could be made without regard to politics, but not with Olmert," Likud MK Reuven Rivlin said. "Even the most naive person would think that politics are a factor in Olmert's, Barak's and Livni's decisions. But I pray that they are not only politicians, but also patriots."

I personally think Olmert is an appalling politician and an even worse military campaigner. His ill advised invasion of Lebanon, which began his premiership, is being perfectly dovetailed by this ill thought out attack on Gaza. Like the invasion of Lebanon this operation began with an utterly unrealistic military aim - the destruction of Hamas - although I note that this is being frantically re-framed as a mission to end rocket attacks rather than it's initial highly ambitious aims.

There is still talk of a ground invasion but I think it would be a very dumb move and would expect any ground invasion to be slight and mostly of symbolic value. The last thing Olmert and Livni need are body bags arriving in Israel so close to an election. The same election that they assure us is not influencing their actions in any way.

But, despite the fact that the US are refusing to allow a UN resolution to be passed, international opinion is now hardening against the Israeli action leaving the US and Israel utterly isolated on the world stage.

Israel are now saying that they want to continue to ensure "a long-term cease-fire under conditions more favorable to Israel."

And what are those conditions which are considered, "more favourable to Israel"?

One gets a hint of that from the Hamas statement:

One Hamas spokesman in Gaza said the group was open to another ceasefire, but wanted Israel's economic blockade lifted. For more than a year Israel has prevented all imports, except limited humanitarian supplies, and prevented all exports from Gaza - in effect destroying private business.

Hamas, who Israel constantly remind us "broke the ceasefire", actually refused to renew the ceasefire as long as the Israelis continued their appallingly cruel siege of Gaza which has left the civilian population scavenging rubbish dumps for food.

Israel want an end to rocket attacks but they don't want to end the Gaza siege which they see as a way of bringing down Hamas. So, "a long-term cease-fire under conditions more favorable to Israel" would be one which allowed them to continue starving the civilian population of Gaza in the hope of bringing about this collapse.

It's a hideous aim, but that is actually why a ceasefire is being resisted by the Israelis. They want the rockets to stop but the siege to continue. For that noble aim have over four hundred Palestinians died.

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