debkafile: Rice urges Israel to give diplomacy a chance. For Olmert time is running out

On her way to Pakistan Tuesday, June 27, the US secretary of state referred to the standoff over the kidnapped 19-year old Israeli soldier and the continuing massing of Israeli troops on standby on the Gaza border.
She said: “There really needs to be an effort now to try and calm the situation.”
US ambassador Richard Jones said he is catiously optimistic about the prospects of recovering Corp. Gilead Shalit.
debkafile‘s sources: This approach may work for Iraq. Only last week, the remains of brutally murdered US hostages, Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca, of the 101st Airborne Division, were discovered near Yusufiya after a tense US military search was mounted. But Rice and her colleagues in government kept their cool.
From Washington, Israel’s reaction to the kidnap of Gilead Shalit is viewed as overly excited, if not hysterical, and certainly not grounds for embarking on total war against the Palestinians. Likewise, the concentration of Israeli armored strength on Gaza’s border appears not only unnecessary but counter-productive in that it reduces prime minister Ehud Olmert’s room for maneuver in negotiating the Israeli hostage’s release.
The big difference here is that when the American military blunders, it is admitted, freely debated in the national discourse and attempts are made to repair the damage. Israelis find it hard to admit to military mistakes, despite the testimony of the soldiers involved, and are counting on a massive operation to rescue the missing soldier to make up for the IDF fiasco at Kerem Shalom.
The abduction of Gilead belies the assurances Olmert and his Kadima party gave the electorate months ago that security was improving, the Palestinian terror war was waning and the pull-back from the Gaza Strip was a success and a lever for future West Bank withdrawals.
Olmert is now caught on the horns of a bitter dilemma of his own making. By refusing to bargain and release Palestinian prisoners and declaring that time is running out for an “extensive military operation,” he has put the IDF on a roll towards major action in the Gaza Strip. But Washington is telling him to hold his horses, in other words, to pull up and turn his speeding rollercoaster right round.
What the three key men, Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz and chief of staff Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz, should have done immediately after the Palestinian attack on the army post and abduction was to launch pinpoint raids in the Rafah district of southern Gaza.
Turning round now would be tantamount to an Israeli capitulation.

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