Sunday, March 02, 2008

Watching Israel and Hamas from the sidelines

The U.S.-promoted Abu Mazen-Ehud Olmert diplomatic track was never very promising. The prospect of ostracizing and excluding Hamas was slim to begin with, and now the escalation of Israel-Hamas fighting has assured that the track will lead no where fast.
For its part, Hamas is asserting its presence as well as attempting to create a structure of deterrence vis-a-vis Israel. Israel, for its part, is buttressing its own deterrence by responding fiercely to the katyusha attacks on Ashkelon.
Where will this end? No doubt, there will be more bloodshed in the days ahead, and the big losers will be Gazan civilians, which, in turn, will mobilize more West Bank Palestinians and undermine Mahmoud 'Abbas further.
Israeli cues have indicated a willingness to see a ceasefire invoked with Hamas, especially if Israel can simultaneously avoid formal agreements that undermine its control of the West Bank.
Meantime, the effective silence of the not-ready-for-prime-time Bush project for a two-state solution is all the more evident.

World news Feed Article | World news |: "Since the first rocket hit Ashkelon on Wednesday in retaliation for an Israeli strike that killed five militants, Israel's military has killed more than 100 Palestinians in fierce fighting that has drawn sharp international criticism. Three Israelis have also died in the violence.
A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the need not to divulge internal strategy, said the harsh Israeli reaction was intended as a clear signal to Hamas that hitting Ashkelon will not be tolerated. The official said Israel was willing to go all the way to stress its point - including a large-scale ground invasion into Gaza and the assassination of Hamas' political leadership."

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