Israel Resource Review 5th August, 2001


Sharon and Peres: Two Strategies
General Sharon on the Ground
Hemi Shalev
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 is accomplished.

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 capabilities.

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 terrorism."

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 disaster."

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 dozens killed." Peres

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
Gideon Alon
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 television.

"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 case.

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"
Caroline Glick
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 normal life."

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 Palestinian Authority.

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 Jewish residents."

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 us privately."

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 their mandate."

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 Jerusalem."

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 Israel."

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 . . .
David Bedein

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 curriculum.

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, 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 against Israel.

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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