Seven Questions for the Olmert Administration
- Seven Questions for the Olmert Administration
By Dr. Aaron Lerner
March 31, 2006
With our national elections behind us, Acting Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert faces important challenges and questions.
Here are a few:
1. Arrangements at the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the
Gaza Strip are a farce, with the Palestinians not only responsible
for inspections but also having the last word as to who and what can
pass. This was irresponsible when Fatah controlled the PA and with
Hamas in charge it is farcical.
Will Israel insist on changes in the arrangements to prevent
smuggling into Gaza?
2. Israel has yet to come up with an effective response to the short
range low payload Qassam rockets that have been fired almost daily
from Gaza into Israel and to make matters worse, the considerably
more accurate and higher payload/longer range Katyushas have already
made their appearance in the Gaza Strip. The higher payload makes
the rockets considerably more dangerous and the longer range can
render the "no entry zone" at the northern edge of the Gaza Strip
irrelevant since the Katyushas can strike a large number of key
Israeli targets from deep within heavily populated Palestinian
Will Israel address this challenge now with action or continue
its "'talk loudly and carry a small stick'" policy?
Will Israel revise its rules of engagement in order to deny the
Palestinian rocket teams the sanctuary they enjoy from human
3. The Palestinians have enjoyed considerable success in their
public relations battle to force Israel to operate the Karni
Crossing despite terror threats - and the availability of safer
alternative crossing points (including Kerem Shalom).
Will Israel do its PR "homework" - with photo ops, briefings and
other activities at Kerem Shalom and elsewhere and stick to its guns
on the issue so that it can get the upper hand?
4. Hamas now controls an armed and trained infantry force numbering
in the many tens of thousands (various official PA security forces
equipped with automatic assault rifles as well as other equipment).
Will Israel announce and enforce a policy to address this threat?
For example, a "no rifle" rule enforced by a no-nonsense shoot to
kill policy against anyone seen holding a rifle?
5. Mr. Olmert has termed his retreat plan to be a retreat to
internationally recognized "final borders".
What is to be considered "international recognition"? A UN
resolution following up on 242 proclaiming that the retreat, if
carried out to the predetermined lines, fulfils 242's call for
withdrawal to "secure and recognized borders"?
What if the international community insists on the caveat that the
retreat lines are "interim borders", with the "final borders" to be
ultimately established in the future via negotiations with the
6. During the election campaign Mr. Olmert declined to publicly
counter remarks by senior security personalities in Kadima such as
Dichter and Ezra that Israeli forces would remain deployed in the
evacuated areas of the West Bank even after the Jewish communities
What if the international community takes the position that while it
is happy to see Jewish communities in the West Bank bulldozed that
the "pay-off" of recognized "final borders" requires also pulling
the army out?
7. Mr. Olmert said that the retreat would be to lines that enjoyed
the broad support of the Israeli public.
Would that "broad support" be tested via national referendum?
There are, of course, many more questions.
But answering these would be a good start.