Monday, June 16, 2003

Sharon assasination strategy backfiring?
'Haaretz, the most dovish of Israeli newspapers, editorialized yesterday against what it called "a poor decision" by Sharon. "The timing and method of the operation reinvigorated doubts regarding Sharon's sincerity and commitment to Bush's vision for the Middle East and its implementation," Haaretz said. What is surprising, however, is that as many as half of Israelis themselves believe Sharon's motivation for the attack was to sabotage the peace plan, according to a poll yesterday in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The survey showed Israelis evenly divided, with 43 per cent of respondents accepting at face value the Sharon government's explanation that Rantisi was a "ticking time bomb" of terror.

'Yet 40 per cent of Israelis say they believe the attack came for the sole purpose of sabotaging the road map. A further 3 per cent say both reasons were behind the strike. "The number of citizens who reject the government's explanations and attribute malicious intentions to it is very high," wrote Yedioth analyst Sever Plotzker. "When the percentage of Israel's citizens that depend on the army's professional ethics is identical to the percentage who view the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) as a political tool, it is not only the state leaders who have a problem of justification. The IDF also has a credibility problem that it has not suffered from so far during the intifada." The Yedioth survey, which sampled opinion from 501 people, giving it an error margin of 4.5 per cent, also found six out of 10 Israelis favour an immediate halt to further assassinations. "This sweeping critique of the assassinations is a new and unprecedented phenomenon," Plotzker wrote. "The public is gradually overcoming its addiction to assassinations, especially of Palestinians from the political echelon, since it already knows what follows them."'

'A clear majority of Israelis have consistently favoured withdrawal from most or all of the West Bank and Gaza, including the dismantling of most settlements. Yesterday's survey numbers indicated that as of this week, 67 per cent of Israelis agree with Sharon's controversial assertion that the military "occupation" of Palestinian territory must end. But the ideological resolve of Israel's estimated 200,000 Jewish settlers and their international supporters backers remains breathtaking... Emboldened by the disintegration of peace prospects with each passing day, the Yesha Council of West Bank rabbis went on the offensive, restating its biblical claim to the whole of the territory and urging neighbouring Arab countries to absorb all Palestinian refugees. After "a serious look at the Arab problem," the rabbis concluded the only solution is "at the roots." "According to the Torah, there is no place for Arabs in the Land of Israel," the rabbis' statement said.' - this is religious fundamentalism officially sanctioning the crime of ethnic cleansing and systematic absuse of human rights. It passes without comment in Israel and the West.

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