Friday, September 13, 2002

Weekend Papers II Analyst Zeev Schiff is a guy who doesn't just talk out of his hat. And here's his assessment of where things stand following Operation Determined Path

.....The Palestinian security organizations collapsed, and terrorists from all the various groups are on the run and in hiding. Hundreds of them were killed and thousands more are under arrest. The IDF proved its strength and determination to the Palestinians and to the Arabs in general.

The Palestinians have a sense of failure and are doing some serious soul-searching about the violent path Arafat chose. The criticism is coming from the grass roots and the mid-level leaders. New channels of negotiations with Israel are opening. But there is still a danger of terrible terror attacks by those opposed to the change.

Schiff also says: there are currently 91 "settlement outposts", of which 21 are illegal in the sense that they had not been approved by the Netanyahu or Barak governments (as an aside: remember that the Oslo Accords did not freeze settlement growth; the post-Oslo Mitchell Plan included a settlement freeze after the establishment of a ceasefire); Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer thinks that Israel should now begin a new diplomatic initiative and is likely to leave the gov't soon.

My own view is that "diplomatic initiatives" belong to the world of pie-in-the-sky diplomats. When there is a Palestinian leadership that wants to reach a real rapproachment with Israel, there will be communications - with both the gov't and also with the media and the left.

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