Saturday, July 27, 2002

It's chutzpah week on the Israeli left. Shimon Peres has apparently told the German news magazine Der Spiegel that he has "doubts" about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's commitment to peace in the Mideast, and that he is not certain Sharon can be considered a partner for peace any longer. I had no idea that Peres had officially taken up his post as foreign minister for the Palestinian Authority, but now that he is openly (and negatively) evaluating the Israeli Prime Minister's suitability to reach a deal with him in that new capacity, it would behoove him, at least, to resign from his position in said Prime Minister's government. No such luck: "As long as I can serve as a balancing factor, I'll stay." A nation at war can ill afford a cabinet minister who sees his role as "balancing" the views of his loyal colleagues by representing the enemy within the government. Peres' continued membership in the cabinet is a serious danger to his country, lending credibility to anti-Israel agitators around the world, and undercutting the valid arguments of Israel's defenders in the battle against terrorism.

Meanwhile, Gideon Samet in Ha'aretz waxes furious about the killing of Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh and the supposed ceasefire it supposedly interfered with: "a genuine opportunity to break the cycle of terror and retaliation was buried in Gaza." Putting aside the vague, dubious nature of the alleged ceasefire proposal (Amir Oren, also in Ha'aretz, throws a ton of cold water on all the talk of a "breakthrough"), I don't recall Gideon Samet standing foursquare behind Ariel Sharon's firm policy of "no negotiations under fire", when the latter was refusing to make political concessions to the Palestinians in the face of terrorist attacks. On the contrary, I seem to recall him and his fellow peaceniks arguing at the time that military restraint and willingness to negotiate--even under the threat of terrorism--were necessary to the serious pursuit of peace. Why, then, would Samet believe that Israel's attack on a terrorist leader in Gaza--even one that killed several civilians as a regrettable side effect--can rightly be blamed for scuttling Palestinian ceasefire initiatives this time? Or does he consider "no negotiations under fire" a reasonable position for Palestians to take, but abominably warlike when held by Israelis?

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