|Israel Resource Review
||6th September, 2006
Rev. Jesse Jackson Returns Empty Handed to the US: Misled by Hizbullah, He Misled Families of Hizbullah Hostages
Last week, Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived in Israel to act as an intermediary to help get abducted hostages back to Israel. Two Israeli hostages are now being held by the Hizbullah terror group in Lebanon, while one Israeli hostage is held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Rev. Jackson arrived in Israel after had he had received assurances from the Hizbullah that their Israeli hostages in Lebanon are alive and well, and asked their families to be patient.
This reporter made a personal call to him at his hotel room, with one question. Since the RED CROSS had not even been allowed to visit the Israeli captives, on what basis could he say that they were alive? The saga of three kidnapped Israeli hostages who were abducted by Hizbullah in October, 2000 speaks for itself: For three years, the Israeli government and the Hizbullah and all intermediaries assured the public that all three were alive. Only after pressure was brought to bear on the RED CROSS three years later did the public learn out that all three Israeli hostages had been murdered shortly after their abduction by the Hizbullah.
Rev. Jackson's spokesman called to say that the message had been delivered to him. Rev. Jackson then made a commitment: To return to Lebanon to ask Hizbullah for concrete proof that the two Israeli hostages are indeed alive.
Today, after Rev. Jackson left Lebanon, this reporter reached his spokesman, who was changing planes in Paris, and asked him whether the Hizbullah had provided any proof that the hostages that they were holding in Lebanon were alive. His spokesman answered that the Hizbullah would not provide any proof that their two Israeli hostages are alive.
This reporter has therefore asked Rev. Jackson two further questions:
1. Will he issue a statement to the effect that the Hizbullah will not provide any proof that the two Israeli hostages are alive?
2. Will Rev. Jackson contact the families of the hostages to inform them of such?
Rev. Jackson has not responded. Instead, Rev. Jackson returned empty handed to the US, after raising hopes of families who await the return of their loved ones.
The question remains: Will Rev. Jesse Jackson admit that he was misled by the Hizbullah and that he had no basis to reassure loved ones of hostages held by the Hizbullah that they are "alive and well".
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Commentary: Dissonance in Hostage Information
There's a stepping back now: Mahmoud Abbas is saying today that the Bahraini paper El-Halij misunderstood his statement about a prisoner trade; he says there were arrangements, but they have not born fruit. Meanwhile, Al-Hayat in London now says it erred yesterday in saying that Gilad Shalit was already in Egypt; seems, rather, that Egypt merely confirmed that he is alive.
Does this mean there were simply journalistic misunderstandings? Has the Israeli government, meeting a barrage of criticism at home, backed off? Or are things just being hushed up until the final deal is reached? We'll have to wait and see.
At the same time, however, Kofi Annan is proceeding with arrangements regarding mediation of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah. He has appointed as his envoy one Lakhdar Brahimi, who, says the Jerusalem Post, is a "fierce Israel critic." Israel continues to insist that they didn't request that Annan appoint a mediator. So what's going on here?
For the international community, it seems be set in stone: "Something" has to be happening in the Middle East at all times. When one initiative or process fails, then another must be speedily whipped out to take its place. There is no sense that sometimes it's necessary to accept the status quo and wait things out with strength. In order to facilitate matters, now that "realignment" is temporarily dead, the EU is thinking about loosening its preconditions for talks with Hamas. The three preconditions are ending terrorism, accepting previous agreements, and recognizing Israel. But now, says an EU diplomat, " . . . maybe if you cannot get wholesale adherence by Hamas to these three conditions, why not start with one, and see where that gets us."
The one he would insist on starting with would be cessation of terrorism. Which, of course, for Hamas is a non-starter. Hamas knows know that it has to yield very little, because the concessions will be made by the Europeans. The decision to stagger the preconditions hasn't been finalized yet and some nations are holding firm. But an Israeli diplomat expresses concern that if Hamas maintains a hard line, the Europeans will say, "Oopps, maybe we should cave in."
Condoleezza Rice and Kofi Annan have informed Israel that international forces are ready to take up positions at Lebanon's airport and seaports to block smuggling of weapons. And so tomorrow Israel will pull out from these locations as UN forces step in. Germany will be carry a bulk of this responsibility; until German troops arrive, Italian, French, British and Greek forces will carry out the mission.
The families of abducted soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser are distressed however, as Olmert and Livni had both promised not to pull out until there was news of the soldiers. Maintaining the blockade provided leverage that will now be lost.
As to news of the soldiers, the fact is that no one on this end knows if they are even alive. The Red Cross has been denied the right to see them, and, as journalist David Bedein has reported, when Jesse Jackson come to town promising to secure information about the soldiers, he came away with words from Hezbollah but no proof that they are alive.
see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info
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