|Israel Resource Review
||5th August, 2001
Sharon and Peres: Two Strategies
General Sharon on the Ground
Senior Features Writer, Maariv
This week Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was reminded of an officer by the
name of Amnon Schwartzburg, a member of Kibbutz Beit Alpha, whom he had
recommended for a favorable citation after the paratrooper raid of Syrian
outposts on the Sea of Galilee in 1955. Schwartzburg won Sharon's praise by
meticulously fulfilling his orders: first capture the target, and only
later care for the wounded.
The wounded man Schwartzburg left being was Rafael (Raful) Eitan, then a
company commander in Brigade 890 who had been hit by fire from a
machine-gun stationed on one of the sides. Schwartzburg passed the bleeding
Raful and continued charging the target, running in the trenches, and did
not stop until he had cleared out the furthermost Syrian position.
Forty-six years later, Schwartzburg's determination is a model for
Sharon. He views himself as a fighter in the trenches, ignoring the shells
landing around him and persisting in striving to capture the fortified
target. His increasing difficulties at the Likud Central Committee and
Binyamin Netanyahu's attempts to move in are, according to Sharon, merely a
"bothersome machine-gun" which can be dealt with later, after the mission
Sharon's command for operating was completely clear: force Arafat to
cease fire, without being dragged into an all-out war, but without
conceding a single comma to the Palestinians in the political realm. The
prime minister believes his policy, with the assassination of terrorist
activists at its core, is beginning to bear fruit.
Sharon does not accept the definition of the assassination at the Hamas
headquarters in Nablus as a "step up." He scorns the idea of Hamas
"political echelons," and makes it clear that the people killed in Nablus
were directly involved in organizing terrorism, including the terror attack
at the Dolphinarium. Sharon cites intelligence assessments saying that the
assassination policy is already showing "results on the ground," that the
terrorists are spending more time hiding from the long arm of the IDF than
preparing new terror attacks. We have not yet eradicated the terrorist
organizations, Sharon says, but we have significantly damaged their
It seems Sharon is not impressed by the flaring of tempers on the
Palestinian street, of the calls for revenge, of the uniting of forces by
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the Tanzim. He says that anyway the
information collected from terrorists Israel has captured shows that 42% of
the Israelis killed since the Intifada started were killed by PA men. This
week Sharon emphasized to the American Secretary of State Colin Powell that
senior level officials in the PA are involved up to their necks in
organizing the terror attacks, and Powell could have understood, by
inference, that these officials too may become a legitimate target for
assassination by Israel.
Sharon said that he will not "cave in to the cries on the street which
are meant to serve "personal interests," code words meant to say that as
far as he knows the public campaign for a general offensive against the
Palestinian Authority is being run mainly by his rival, Netanyahu. He says
he is not worried by the polls which show a clear weakening in his position
among right wing voters, nor by the report of a majority formed against him
in the Likud Central Committee, because "panic is not my thing." He
believes that his way will hold sway, also in the party's institutions, but
even if not, it is a matter of "a mosquito biting here and there," and
eventually nothing will come of it. He says, the elections will take place
exactly on time, on October 28, 2003.
Sharon does not intend to be dragged into an uncontrollable escalation,
which he believes would be the result of Netanyahu's recommendations but,
at the same time, he is strictly opposed to the proposal of Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres to begin a channel of political talks with Arafat. He
defines the distinction Peres makes between "negotiations under fire" and
"negotiations for achieving a cease-fire" as naivety. "Anything like that
is a reward for terrorism" Sharon said of his partner's proposals, while
continuing to shower him with respect. "Arafat should absolutely not be
given the feeling that there is a reward for terrorism, just as the
Americans and the world should not be allowed to get used to an idea that
there is a level of terrorism that can be lived with."
Sharon might not have spoken like Minister Uzi Landau who said this
week, "In this conflict Arafat has to lose in a clear-cut fashion," but
that is what he means. Sharon wants to push Arafat into a corner, cut off
his escape routes, tighten the noose about his neck, among other things, by
stepping up the level of assassinations perhaps even to Arafat's very
doorstep. "Arafat has to understand that he has nowhere to go any longer,"
Sharon said, "that he will not gain anything until he takes action against
On the other hand, a senior political figure believes that Sharon's
assassination policy is simultaneously destroying even the slim remaining
chance of Arafat taking action against terrorism. Sharon, says the
official, is ignoring the effect the assassinations are having on the
feeling in the Palestinian street and is not giving them the importance
they deserve. Now, when the revenge becomes a unified battle cry and the
central test of the leadership of the Palestinian organizations, it is
truly only a matter of time until the big terror attack comes along, with a
casualty toll which will force a massive Israeli reaction, which will in
turn cause a general escalation.
"Sharon is correct in principle in trying to prove that violence does
not pay," said the official, "but now we have been caught in a catch in
which insisting on this principle could entail far more dire results than
if we displayed some flexibility. The question is whether we have to
continue insisting on this, even when it is clear it is leading to a
This week Sharon did not sound like someone who understands reason. He
is set on the political and security tactic he has chosen. As in a battle
in the trenches, he is prepared for a long struggle, filled with obstacles
and surprises, and his major weapon is perseverance.
Like Officer Schwartzburg, Sharon believes this is the trait that is the tried and true recipe for capturing the target.
P.S. Sharon said that the raid on the Syrian outposts was "One of the
most successful things that paratroopers have ever done." In his book, Does
Not Stop on Red, the journalist Uzi Benziman confirms that the raid on the
Syrian outposts in December 1955 was considered "an impressive success."
Fifty six Syrian soldiers were killed and 32 captured, whereas the IDF lost
six men and twelve were wounded.
However, Benziman adds that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, though he
supported an aggressive line against the Arabs, was taken aback by the
large number of losses the Syrian's suffered. Ben-Gurion had not forgotten
the 69 people killed in the Kibya Operation two years earlier. Sharon did
try to convince "the old man" but Ben-Gurion maintained that "the operation
was too good."
When Sharon left the room, then chief of staff Moshe Dayan turned to
Ben-Gurion and said to him: "Arik's quota in these kinds of operation is
dozens. He does not finish an operation without the enemy having at least
Sharon's strongly worded statements against Peres's initiatives might
signal a near clash between the two men. What Sharon describe as "a reward
for terrorism" is viewed by Peres as a final rescue option before the
catastrophe. If it were up to Peres, he would start uninterrupted and
intensive contacts with Yasser Arafat in an attempt to achieve a cease-fire
and political negotiations, not necessarily in that order.
Peres supports deploying American or international observers, and he
does not really care when they come, because he wants Arafat to earn some
sort of "achievement" which will spur him to begin changing his ways.
However, Peres is doubtful as to whether the Americans are prepared to risk
having their observers getting caught in the cross-fire between Israelis
and Palestinians, just as he doubts whether the Americans want to or can
mediate between the sides in any significant way.
What is left is Peres's classic motto: If I do not work for myself, who
will? His schedule is filled with "secret meetings" in Israel and abroad,
and he is continuously working behind the scenes. This week Peres was
barely back from an enjoyable but arduous trip to Peru, and is already
calling everyone, a foreign minister here, a foreign minister there, trying
to get Arafat to give him just the barest of leads, just one day of quiet,
and he [Peres] will already get the world to move.
After his meetings with Arafat in Lisbon and Cairo, Peres has been
demonstrating greater understanding of the Palestinian distress and is more
critical of the IDF which he feels has not done enough to make things less
difficult for the population. He does not accept the version that sees
Arafat as the guiding hand over everything and doubts Arafat's ability to
confront the terrorist organizations. In response to the claim that Arafat
himself is setting the level of the flames, Peres says: "He is a chairman,
not a flame-thrower."
Peres claims he is not getting involved in his party's primary
elections, though he is completely in favor of postponing them. He is
concerned that the primaries might ignite a process which will eventually
lead to the dissolution of the government and earlier general elections.
Peres believes that, in the better case scenario, Sharon will win, and in a
worse scenario, Netanyahu will win, with a Likud faction which will have
doubled its size in the Knesset.
The concern over Netanyahu is the glue holding Sharon and Peres
together. This means that this Catholic wedding between the two could hold
up despite their increasing controversies, even though very soon Peres
might find himself with his political hands tied, or Sharon might find that
Peres has felt completely at liberty to do whatever he wants to, with or
without a mandate.
This feature ran in Maariv, August 3, 2001
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Taleb A-Sana MK (United Arab List)
lavished praise on the terrorist attack near Tel Aviv IDF HQ
Knesset Correspondent, Ha'aretz
[IMRA commentary -
Question: If MK A-Sana had advance warning of
the "justified" attack would he keep it to himself? The A-Sana remark
raises the dual-loyalty (or more appropriately - loyalty to the enemy) in a
very sharp way. Time and again it is explained that these MK's do not
reflect the atitude of the rank-and-file Arab Israeli public. We will see
over the course of today if other voices from the Arab-Israeli community are
heard. The absence of a significant reaction may tell us more, in fact,
than the original remark.]
Taleb A-Sana MK (United Arab List) yesterday lavished praise on the
terrorist attack at the Tel Aviv Kirya in an interview with Abu Dhabi
"This is an attack of special quality," A-Sana said, "because it was not
against civilians but against soldiers in the very heart of Israel. The
Israelis have to understand that if there is no security for Palestinians
there will not be security for Israelis." A-Sana added: "There can be no
guilt feelings in this case. This is the legitimate struggle par excellence
of the Palestinian people."
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein intends to look into the Bedouin MK's
remarks to see if there are grounds for an incitement charge. Rubinstein is
waiting for the full text of the Abu Dhabi interview before considering the
However sources in the Justice Ministry said last night that it is difficult
to bring charges for incitement.
The Knesset two months ago failed to approve a law against incitement tabled
by the ministry. It is possible, however, that Rubinstein will ask the
police to investigate if there is room for charges on the grounds of
inciting rebellion or failing to prevent terrorism.
This article ran on August 6, 2001 in Ha'aretz
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TIPH -- A textbook case in the failure of "peace observers"
Correspondent, Makor Rishon weekly newspaper
translated by Mark Amiel
The specified objective of the TIPH (Temporary International Presence in
Hebron) observers is "to provide a feeling of security among the
Palestinians in the city of Hebron and to contribute to the renewal of
Within an approved potential group of 160 observers, there are today 88
observers in Hebron, from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Turkey, and
Italy. Some of them come from a military or police background, and some have
a background working with human rights organizations. Once every three
months the group publishes a situation report which is presented to the
foreign ministries of the participating countries, Israel, and the
A Joint Hebron Committee meets regularly, chaired by the head of the TIPH,
in order to discuss with both sides what is happening in the field. At these
meetings, the observers sit at the head of the table and the Israelis and
Palestinians address the observers, not each other. IDF officers have no
authority to speak directly to the Palestinians in the discussions of the
committee. Everything must go through the head of the TIPH delegation, who
also sets the agenda of the committee and summarizes the discussions.
According to IDF Colonel (res.) Baruch Nagar, who served until the middle of
1999 as military governor of Hebron: "It is clear from their mandate that
they are in the city to serve the Palestinians. My task was to limit the
damage they cause . . . . There was no chance that they would prove useful to
us." In practice, according to Nagar, the TIPH served as a "factor that
greatly interfered. Their activities very much limited the IDF and the
According to Nagar, "in private conversations with most of the TIPH people,
their tendency was to speak the truth. It was clear to them that the
Palestinians were the aggressors and in conversations with us they justified
the IDF actions in most incidents. But the minute that Palestinians were
present at the conversation, and when they wrote their periodic reports, we
came out badly. Then they spoke and wrote the opposite of what they said to
What is the explanation for this? According to Nagar, without any
connection to the worldviews of the observers, the blindness to reality of
the observers resulted from a combination of personal and organizational
factors. Nagar believes that on the personal level, the observers are most
concerned with their own self-defense and simply feel personally threatened
by the Palestinian Authority. "The observers know that the Palestinians are
violent terrorists. They see this daily and are afraid of them. On the other
hand, they know that the reaction of Israel to unfair criticism will be no
more than an unpleasant conversation. So they prefer to disagree with us and
not with the Palestinains."
"At the organizational level, the TIPH has no interest in accusing the
Palestinians of aggressiveness. Indeed, they are in Hebron in order to give
the Palestinians a feeling of security. If it comes out that the
Palestinians are causing the Israelis to feel insecure, how can they justify
According to another IDF source: "The TIPH as an organization has adopted
the position of the Palestinians regarding the necessity of Israel turning
over to Palestinian sovereignty all of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and east
Sources in the security services who work with TIPH speak of the political
damage it causes to Israel. The reports of the observers are distributed in
the international arena, and provide more justification for adopting the
position of the Palestinians among the states contributing manpower to TIPH.
In one of the latest reports, the observers found it necessary to emphasize
that the "Jewish neighborhoods have not yet been dismantled."
According to Baruch Nagar, "The TIPH sees itself as a model for
international observers for the entire area, and they are constantly trying
to bring about the extension of their deployment to the pre-1967 border."
From the perspective of security, according to all the sources, the
presence of the observers in the city interferes with the IDF. "When IDF
soldiers stop a Palestinian at a checkpoint because he appears suspicious,
and they want to check his papers and see what he has in his pockets, an
observer comes and begins to photograph him up close. This discourages the
soldier from doing his job, because he does not want to harm the image of
According to a senior IDF source, "One night, Palestinians inside a school
opened fire on IDF soldiers in Hebron, and the army decided to go after the
attackers. When the soldiers drove toward the school, they suddenly saw a
car speeding from the school. Seconds before the force opened fire at the
vehicle, they saw the TIPH flag on the car. The observers were inside the
school at the time that the Palestinians were shooting at us."
"On the political level," said a senior military source," the minute they
bring international observers here, the Palestinians will simply stop
relating to us as the local authority. We won't have anyone to talk with
because they will speak only to the observers."
This article ran on July 27th, 2001 in Makor Rishon
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Peres and Melchior allow the EU funding to PA education to Resume . . .
The donor nations to the Palestinian Authority educational system had egg
on their face last summer, when our investigative research showed that
the consuls of Italy, Holland, Belgium, Finland and Ireland, had financed
new school books for the Palestinian Authority for the past school year
that were supposed to promote peace yet instead promoted a war
These school books and that curriculum of the PA can be perused at the website of the Center
for Monitoring the Impact of Peace located at
www.edume.org, an organization now affiliated with the
Truman Center for the Advancement for Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
This year, foreign governments waited for feedback from the Israeli
government before they decided whether or not to finance the Palestinian school system.
In late June, We asked the Israeli Foreign Ministry, as to whether or not
it would recommend that foreign governments continue to fund the
Palestinian school system. Their response: "We ask that the donor
nations support the Palestinian school system, but not the school books,
and implore the PA not to use their school system to incite hatred against Israel".
We asked the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education whether it would
consider changes in its curriculum this year, or the removal of any
school books which continue to teach the idea of Jihad to conquer the
whole land of Palestine. The answer, from all levels of the PA Ministry, was a curt "no".
Our follow-up question to the Israel Foreign Ministry: Since the PA
ignores the requests to change its curriculum, what is your
recommendation as to whether the donor nations should continue to fund
the PA school system? It took the ministry of Israel Foreign Affairs a
full month to answer that question. The answer that I got at the end of
July was the same as a month before: Finance the PA school system, not
the PA school books, and implore the PA not to use its schools to incite
We posed the same question to deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Rabbi
Michael Melchior. His spokesman wrote back that Rabbi Melchior had indeed raised the issue of incitement
with the foreign consuls.
That was not the question, we pointed out. The question that we had asked
Rabbi Melchior, (who is also the head of Meimad, a liberal Orthodox
movement that promotes peace education) was whether or not he supports
the continued funding of the PA educational system. Rabbi Melchior
personally answered this question after addressing a forum of diplomats
and journalists on July 25th. Rabbi Melchior said that he had been
assured that all donor nations had implored the PA to cease its
anti-Israel curriculum in the PA schools. Yet he would not answer the
question as to what to recommend to the foreign consuls in Jerusalem, now that the PA is ignoring
all requests to change their curriculum.
The bottom line: Israel indeed recommends to the donor nations of the PA
that they renew funding for the PA school system, despite the fact that the PA runs the first curriculum
since Nazi Germany to promote a war against the Jews.
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