While Israel’s Winograd Commission has certainly pulled no punches in excoriating the Israeli military and political leadership for their botched war in Lebanon last summer, there appears to be a massive lacuna in its conclusions. (I’m not even going to get into the question of cluster bombs and other military actions by Israel in that conflict that contravene international law.) Israel clearly went to war in haste without a considered plan, without weighing alternatives, without establishing clear objectives and without an exit strategy. That much Winograd was prepared to say bluntly. But what he doesn’t explain is why things played out in this way.
And here, I think, he’s avoiding the elephant in the room: the very clear sense, throughout the Lebanon misadventure, that Israel was coordinating its actions with Washington to an extent that the Bush Administration’s own decisions had a decisive impact on how Israel waged its campaign. Once Israel had launche its initial air raids, the U.S. quickly moved to define the objectives of the war in terms far more expansive than Israel had ever intended, using its diplomatic veto to block a ceasefire that the Israeli leadership had, in fact, been counting on when they began. I had previously written about how in order to truly understand the brutal botchup of Lebanon, the commission would have to probe the U.S. role in Israel’s decision making — the war was one in which I believe Israeli leaders ceded an unprecedented level of control over Israeli decisions to the United States. [complete article]
See also, Opposition leader Netanyahu: Olmert is incompetent, unfit to lead (Haaretz).
The Yemin Yehuda non-profit association has begun building 200 housing units in the Shimon Hatzaddik compound, in the heart of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarra neighborhood. In the process, the organization intends to demolish the homes of dozens of Palestinian families who live there.
This neighborhood is in a strategic location: If Yemin Yehuda completes its plan, it will cut the Old City off from the Palestinian neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem.
MK Benny Elon (National Union-National Religious Party), who supports building the new neighborhood, says it is designed to create a Jewish continuum surrounding the Old City, where there currently is a massive Palestinian majority. [complete article]
Islamic Jihad movement on Thursday urged Hamas and Fatah movement benefit from both being in Cairo and start a reconciliation dialogue.
“We must get out from the internal infighting and its results,” said Naffez Azzam, an Islamic Jihad leader, during a demonstration in front of the sealed-off Rafah crossing point in southern Gaza Strip. [complete article]