Debka reports that Putin stepped in after failure of Israel to act after Hamas victory.
DEBKAfile’s political sources accuse acting prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni of doing too little, too late in their campaign to keep the Hamas Islamic terrorists from coming to power.
Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov predicted correctly that other states will follow suit and favor contacts with Hamas now that the Jerusalem campaign heavily dependent on Washington has gone up in smoke. As he spoke, France jumped aboard.
What this means is – 1. After failing to prevent the election although it was clearly preconfigured for a Hamas victory, the Israeli caretaker government should have struck hard and swiftly to round up the terrorist group’s leaders, all of whom have black records of orchestrating dozens of suicide massacres of Israelis. Instead, Olmert and Livni decided to wait for the “international community” to fight Israel’s wars and then trail in its wake. 2. Russian president Vladimir Putin did not miss the opening left by the inaction of Washington and Jerusalem for scoring points with the Muslim world, which is up in arms against the West over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons. 3. The Olmert government needs to urgently pick up the pieces of its failed strategy and forge a new one with all speed, because otherwise, by next week, Israel – not Hamas – will find itself in diplomatic isolation. 4. Jerusalem must stop stammering over such issues as the transfer of moneys to the Palestinian Authority and abandon its waiting stance – “Let’s first see what sort of government Abu Mazen sets up” – and seize the initiative with clear action.
On Jan. 26, the day after Hamas swept the Palestinian election, Jerusalem’s first response was to wait for Washington to wake up (it was still night) and provide a lead. However, Bush administration officials were just as much at sea as the Israelis over the outcome of the Palestinian election, although it had been forewarned in good time. That would have been the Olmert government’s big chance for a move to block Hamas’ ride into government. Instead, they waited for Washington to cobble some guidelines together – and Hamas walked off with the initiative. After that, Israeli officials echoed the US State Department’s decision to leave it to Mahmoud Abbas to clear up the mess and somehow fashion a new Palestinian government that put Hamas in power – invisibly. When he failed, the Egyptians were called in to save the day.
None of these feeble shifts worked, quite simply because Hamas is truly hard-line, through and through. Its rejections of every condition posed for acceptance or aid – recognizing Israel, disarming, honoring international accords – are not presented as the basis for negotiations. They are clear principles, laid down by tough-minded terrorists. Attempts at accommodation will be beaten off. Because of Israel’s diplomatic ineptness, Hamas is now dictating the rules.
Despite the crisis over the loss of Sharon, Israel has to sieze both the diplomatic and military lead, or it will find itself isolated politically.
I have faith that Ehud Olmert can step up and be a strong leader for Israel, but I have yet to see the demonstration of that. As written in Pirkei Avot, “If not now, when?”