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Olmert's Speech

Ehud Yatom Photo: Gali Tibon
Ehud Yatom Photo: Gali Tibon
 
 

Olmert sold out country

PM again willing to sacrifice security, land for sake of temporary quiet

Ehud Yatom
Published: 11.28.06, 23:16 / Israel Opinion

The ongoing conflict with our enemies has many rounds. Only four months ago another war ended - and sadly it is not the last one - without a clear decision. The ceasefire declared following several weeks of fighting at the Lebanese front and the northern home front left us beaten and with the kind of low national morale we haven't seen in years.

 

The war's objectives, as declared loudly and arrogantly by the political leadership, were not achieved at all: Our sons remained in cruel captivity, Hizbullah was not disarmed, and the damage it sustained was superficial. Nasrallah, following several weeks of silence, returned to the public squares as a victor.

 

Since the truce went into effect on the northern border, Hizbullah has not ceased to rearm itself, under the deliberately closed eyes of the South Lebanon army and United Nations troops. The group is quickly regaining its strike capabilities against Israeli military and civilian targets. According to foreign reports, Hizbullah has rehabilitated itself to a significant extent, and within a few months will be ready to open another round of war.

 

The ceasefire in the north, reached before we achieved our objectives, proved to our enemies that it is indeed possible to successfully confront us on the conventional battlefield, which was unclear at all before this war. We conveyed weakness and limpness through this move, as well as lack of leadership and confusion. The enemy interpreted this as surrender, as opposed to the results of all our previous wars.

 

And yet this serious error is again taking place before our eyes. Even in the fight against Qassam fire on our southern border, in the wake of ongoing attacks on Sderot and western Negev communities, and after we unsuccessfully attempted to take care of the launchers, we left the Gaza Strip embarrassed and weak.

 

This was in complete opposition to the position advocated by the army, which waited for an order from the politicians to launch a required, wide-scale operation to suppress the threat of terror. Sderot remained deserted after many residents left it in light of the Qassam anxiety and without being provided with IDF protection as required.

 

Truce instead of all-out campaign

The ceasefire in the south marks yet another dangerous deterioration in the slippery, contagious slope of weakness and limpness, and also constitutes an irreversible blow to our power of deterrence.

 

The Palestinians realize today more than ever that we have no operational solutions for terrorism launched from their territories, and for them the victory is unequivocal. They realize that in the south as well we prefer a temporary, false and intoxicating quiet, which allows them to boost their forces, equip them, and recruit new fighters for the Hamas army in order to prepare them for the next rounds.

 

And so, we left Gaza without achieving even one mission objective. Departing from the territory before we took over the entire Strip – from the ruins of Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nissanit and all the way to the Philadelphi Route – and without banishing and defeating terror elements, will make it clear to the Palestinians that they will gain what they want and continue to be granted land in exchange for nothing only through terror and war.

 

The abandonment of the Philadelphi Route to the mercy of the Egyptians, again, will lead to the continuation of arms smuggling. Until when will we continue to be hit without hitting back? Until when will we escape and show restraint?

 

At Sdeh Boker, where late Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, our first leader and the man who built this country is buried, Ehud Olmert sold the illusion of peace and quiet between us and the Palestinians.

 

He sold it cheaply and without getting anything in exchange. He again made it clear that in the absence of leadership, he sacrificed the State of Israel's territory and security on the altar of illusion of a truce whose one and only goal is to provide those who seek to exterminate us with a timeout and oxygen.

 

The timing of the prime minister's speech, in the wake of two wars we failed to win, conveys leadership weakness and an aspiration for a false, dangerous quiet that will see our enemies rise against us at the timing that is good for them. 

 

While I write these lines, two Qassam missiles landed in the Negev. This is clearly the Palestinian answer to the speech delivered by Olmert, the deluded seller of illusions. Instead of pledging to hand over land and release terrorist murders in exchange for a mirage, we should have launched an all-out military campaign in the Strip to regain our leadership and power of deterrence.

 

The writer served in senior Shin Bet posts and as a Likud Knesset member

 

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