Friday, June 30, 2006

DATELINE JERUSALEM: Olmert's Tough Talk Reveals Dilemmas Facing Jerusalem

DATELINE JERUSALEM: Olmert's Tough Talk Reveals Dilemmas Facing Jerusalem: "Faced with a deadly attack on Israeli posts on the Gaza border last Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert�s rhetoric was predictable and imprecise � but if read carefully, it pointed to the dilemmas that Israel faces right now.
Both in remarks to the Cabinet and in a public speech, Olmert defined the clash as a �terror attack.� He stressed that Israel saw �the Palestinian Authority� from its chairman to its entire government as responsible for this act.�
Olmert wasn�t alone. Dan Halutz, military chief of staff, also called the incident � a coordinated attack on Israeli army outposts near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, just east of Gaza near its southern tip � an �act of terror.� Halutz stressed the role of Hamas, saying that the Islamic movement was �involved in this from foot to head, double entendre intended� � meaning that he placed personal responsibility on the prime minister of the P.A., Ismail Haniyeh, who heads Hamas�s political wing within the West Bank and Gaza.
Olmert�s and Halutz�s remarks were at least partly meant for domestic political consumption. The Israeli leaders needed to speak strongly at a moment when Israel looked vulnerable. Their words fit a tendency, not unique to Israel, for politicians to label any attack by a non-state group as "terrorism" and at the same time look for a government behind the actions of each shadowy group --if only because a government is easier to find and confront."

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