Israel may have missed its chance for Mideast peace
Slowly but surely there is an increasing sense that terror is returning, accompanied by claims around the world that we didn't take advantage of the time to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
We have five submarines and some of the most sophisticated planes in the world, with the last word - the F-35 - on the way. According to foreign sources we also have a nuclear capability. But still one Arab equipped with a knife can cause havoc in an entertainment district in south Tel Aviv. Nobody sent him, it came from his heart. We have one of the best armies and intelligence services in the world, and still terrorists set up a bloody ambush on the road to Eilat and catch us unprepared.
The new Egyptian leadership hasn't even had time to promise us that the peace agreement will be preserved and the hate-filled shabab demonstrates in front of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. They even found somebody to climb up and take the Israeli flag down from the roof, with the impassioned masses embracing him as a hero.
Our sophisticated air force is good at large and distant strategic targets, but not against Ahmed, who rides a donkey, hides behind a tree, launches a mortar and returns home. Maybe he hits the target and maybe not, but he certainly scares the residents of the south.
Low-level violence is dictating the volume of our lives. Look how an intelligence warning that terrorists were on the way disrupted the lives of people accustomed to driving on the Mitzpeh Ramon-Eilat highway and stopping at the rest stops. They are exhausting us with the most primitive of weapons. Their war is over awareness. Our long coma is ending.
We are entering September under the least convenient circumstances. The world is tired of Israel, whether or not there is a social-welfare demonstration of a million people in Tel Aviv and the nation is tired of its leaders and the unjust distribution of the economic and defense burdens.
Slowly but surely there is an increasing sense that terror is returning, accompanied by claims around the world that we didn't take advantage of the time to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. A combination of terror and international diplomatic pressure is the last horror scenario we need for our current problems.
The army and the police are preparing for every eventuality, they reassure us. They are preparing, for example, for the possibility that violent Palestinian demonstrators will try to break into the settlements, whether en masse or in small groups. When they say "preparing" they mean that the army is teaching the settlers how to protect themselves from a Palestinian infiltration. A kind of "tower and stockade" as in the old days. But if you think twice about this brilliant proposal, you'll discover that the settlers might use the knowledge they get from the army against the army itself when it has to evacuate people in any land-swap agreement.
The world is urging us to take advantage of the time until September 20 - when the United Nations is supposed to officially recognize the Palestinian entity as a state - to enter last-minute negotiations with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, we are confronting a weak American president who is fighting tooth and nail for his second term. Barack Obama has reached the point where Americans complain about him no matter what the situation. He prepared for the hurricane as if embarking on a world war, and now he's being accused of being a panic-monger. If he hadn't taken the storm seriously and a catastrophe ensued, they would have claimed he neglected the people.
In such a situation, with such a president and as far as our fate is concerned, it's very important for Israel to be the leader and the strong one so that the UN General Assembly decision won't turn into a harsh international statement against Israel; so that it won't blame Israel for everything happening in the region.
Experts on the region say the Palestinian Authority will be wary about violence against Israel. Its interest is to prove that it's the party that wants an agreement and Israel is the recalcitrant one. The army now ruling in Egypt also has an interest in preserving the peace agreement with Israel, on condition of course that Israel is not accused of denying the Palestinians their right to an independent state.
Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaida and the Iranians are waiting in ambush to exploit Israel's stubbornness. The principle of doing nothing espoused by former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has turned out to be lethal. And it's continuing in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system will not save us when the voice of Israel is the voice of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The long coma is coming to an end with a bang.
We're entering September under the least convenient circumstances. When the war is over awareness, the stage cries out for an alternative leadership.
The country is in danger.