debkafile Exclusive: Olmert turned down IDF’s minimal plan for preventing Palestinian missile fire from Gaza, pins hopes on Jordanian mediation

The plan was submitted by chief of staff Lt-Gen Dan Halutz to the prime minister’s office Wednesday, Dec. 27, after two schoolboys were seriously injured in Sderot by the 70th missile to explode in the month-old “ceasefire.” The army chief proposed deploying special forces on the five key N. Gazan roads most frequented by the missile crews on their way to launches. Secret ambushes there, he said, could substantially cut down the daily firings against Sderot and other civilian locations around Gaza’s borders.
Ehud Olmert turned Halutz down on the spot. He explained that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was on the point of replacing the Hamas government with a cabinet of experts and any proactive Israeli military operation would jeopardize this step. All he would authorize was pinpointed strikes against missile crews with their fingers on the button.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources report that Olmert is pinning his hopes on a initiative recently advanced by Jordan’s king Abdullah to mediate between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions. Unlike the prime minister, Israeli intelligence does not expect it to go very far.
Abdullah’s plan has four main points:
1. A government of non-partisan technocrats will take the place of the Hamas administration for a two-year term up to 2009.
2. Fatah and Hamas will pledge this government a parliamentary majority to support its functions.
3. It will be empowered to engage Israel on any issue.
4. Before this transitional Palestinian government is installed, Israel will withdraw to the West Bank positions it held on Sept. 28, 2000, the day before the Palestinian uprising erupted, and free all detained Hamas ministers, lawmakers and field operatives.
The Jordanian king believes Hamas will buy this plan because he invited its prime minister Ismail Haniya to Amman. Hamas prizes the invitation as a historic opening not to be missed, which they interpret as official recognition of their movement by an important Arab ruler. Moreover, Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-uprising lines will pull its military presence out of West Bank towns and villages and remove all their roadblocks.
In the meantime, contrary to decisions taken at the prime minister’s office Wednesday morning, not a single roadblock as so far been removed on the West Bank, rather one was added on the road connecting the two Palestinian terrorist hotbeds of Nablus and Jenin.

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