The Sequel to Palestinian Nakba Day

The heavy symbolism of Nabka Day – marking the founding of Israel and displacement of part of the Arab population in the war launched against the Jewish state by five Arab nations – drove home the yawning abyss between the Palestinian and Israeli positions. That abyss was papered over but never bridged by the “creative” diplomatic euphemisms bandied since the Oslo Peace Framework process began in 1993. On the day, the Palestinians paradoxically borrowed such rituals as the three-minute silence, an un-Arab custom, and the expression “holocaust” (which they deny was inflicted on the Jews in World War II) from their proclaimed enemies, the Israelis.
In his broadcast speech, the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, clearly re-stated the peace terms he has repeated tirelessly at every peace summit from last year’s Camp David summit with President Clinton and Ehud Barak on:
The war would go on, he threatened, until all the Palestinian refugees return to their homes in their “homeland” in present-day Israel, until the Israeli army and settlers withdraw to pre-June 6 1967 borders and until the flag of independent Palestine flies over every part of its capital Jerusalem, including Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
His was not the most extreme Nakba Day pronouncement on either side of the Green Line.
Palestinian leadership member, Abbas Zaki, had a simpler plan: He advised the Israeli government either to bow to Palestinian terms or prepare ships for evacuating Israelis into exile. Zaki draws his maritime experience from an item in his resume: in 1985, he led the PLO’s seizure of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro off Egypt, personally hurling the wheelchair-bound Jewish cripple Leon Klinghoffer into the sea.
Israeli Arab Knesset member, Ahmed Tibi, brought the House to its feet with an explosion of hate exceptional even for this close ally of Yasser Arafat: After screaming that chief of staff Lt. General Shaul Mofaz was a murderer and fascist, he yelled at a religious Jewish Knesset Member: “I am king of this land; you are here temporarily!”
Mayor Raed Salah, mayor of the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm and leader of the Israeli Arab Islamic movement, nullified any diplomatic process, including the one initiated at Oslo, by declaring that for him every day since the creation in 1948 of the Jewish state was a Day of Nakba (catstrophe). If the refugee problem is not fully solved, he warned, there would be total war between “Arabs and Jews”.
Those three pronouncements encapsulate the Palestinian ultimatum to “the Jews” in Israel: surrender to our terms now, surrender after fighting a losing battle, or prepare to evacuate.
And, as Israelis have discovered painfully since the outbreak of Arafat’s Al Aqsa Intifada last September, the Palestinians mean what they say.
Addressing the annual meeting of the Public administration forum in Tel Aviv, Israeli’s deputy chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, harked back to the root cause of the Palestinians’ certainty in their victory, namely, the manner in which Israel pulled its army out of South Lebanon last May, which he said, fostered the Palestinian uprising. The Palestinians and Arab countries came to believe that Israel can be broken by the pressure of casualties, and that constantly hitting Israel at this weak point would bring about its final collapse.
Therefore, the general stressed, victory in this war can only go to the side determined not to be the loser and is imbued with the most endurance.
The Palestinian side counts its Day of Nakba achievements as opening shots in the next stage of its war attrition: The Palestinians brought virtually the entire Israel army out on alert, forced it into showdowns with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian protesters – at a cost of 5 dead and 200 injured, while keeping up their mortar fire from the Gaza Strip and waging fierce battles in the Bethlehem-Al Khaydar sector of the West Bank. Israel clamped a blackout on the tank columns it was forced to send into the Palestinian-ruled areas of that sector, or order to knock out firing positions and put a stop to the shooting attacks besetting the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo.
In short, the Palestinian side set the pace on the Day of Naqba.
Arafat may be said to have left a substantial portion of his scenario unimplemented. However, all the preliminary security alerts remain in force. As Sheikh Salah said, “every day is Nakba Day”.
debkafile military sources report that the tangible threats of which Israeli security authorities have received warning include mass-casualty strikes in civilian areas, whether by means of suicide bomber or booby-trapped cars, gunfire by sniper and ambush, raider forays into Israel settlements or urban locations, mortar attacks from the West Bank against Jerusalem and other parts of central Israel abutting on Palestinian territory, and activating Israeli Arab support in the form of mob violence and shooting attacks. Israel, by pursuing a responsive strategy, allows the Palestinians to force the pace and escalate the combat at will. The result is a perpetual impasse in which Israel’s superior military prowess is prevented from coming into play and ending the conflict.
This situation makes the Palestinians a gift of victory.
The decider in this equation is Washington.
Both secretary of state Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice made it clear to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), when they met him in Washington on Tuesday. May 15, that as long as the Palestinians refuse to halt their military assaults and terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, Arafat will not be invited to the White House.
On the face of it, this is a gesture of support for Israel. However, debkafile‘s US sources discloses the quid pro quo: Ariel Sharon is committed to coordinating in advance every single Israeli operation against the Palestinians and guarantee that Israeli incursions into A Areas do not last beyond a few hours.
That Israel-US deal is responsible for the military impasse. The no-win, no-lose stalemate will persist until Israel can persuade the Bush administration that it cannot hope to subdue the Palestinian confrontation without recovering the initiative, dictating the pace of combat and turning up the heat on Arafat’s cohorts. As Gen. Yaalon put it: You can only win if you don’t lose.

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