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Analysis, By Herb Keinon: Outpost removals go with targeted killings (JERUSALEM POST) 06/11/03)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1055211705883 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
First the bottom line: Abdel Aziz Rantisi is no choirboy. The man is an arch-terrorist who revels in blowing up Israelis, and who pledged just Monday to continue murdering Jews and doing whatever he can to derail the road map.

Secondly, his attempted assassination sends a clear signal that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is serious when he says as he has on numerous occasions that Israel cannot accept a tactical cease-fire (hudna) between the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist organizations.

A hudna with an organization hell-bent on destroying Israel is only an opportunity for it to rearm, reorganize, and come back fighting another day. Israel has made it clear it cannot tolerate such a situation.

The Palestinian counterargument has been that Israel has no right to dictate how the PA chooses to stop the violence and needs to be concerned only about whether the violence stops. Well, since Aqaba, the violence has not stopped. Seven dead Israelis since the ceremony on King Abdullah II´s palace lawn is not something that for a variety of reasons Sharon could simply ignore.

At first, it seemed Sharon did opt to ignore these attacks, seemingly not wanting to gum up the road map, antagonize US President George W. Bush, or be seen worldwide as the road map´s roadblock.

Sharon didn´t mention the attack at the Erez terminal in the Gaza Strip that killed four soldiers when he addressed the Likud convention on Sunday night, a few hours after the attack. This raised a few eyebrows.

Even more surprising was his decision to begin removing unauthorized outposts just a day after the attacks, which some of his Likud supporters said was tantamount to giving terrorism a prize. With the attempted hit on Rantisi, however, Sharon signaled to everyone that he won´t ignore attacks road map or not.

He can´t ignore the attacks because this goes against his grain, because of concern this projects a weakness that only fuels more attacks, and because he has to show his constituency that even if he agrees to part with a some of the territories, even if he is physically beginning to implement this policy, he has not gone "soft." On the surface, Sharon´s decisions seem contradictory. Removing outposts places him firmly on the road map, while hitting Rantisi seems to derail it.

But Sharon doesn´t agree that trying to kill Rantisi is the same as trying to kill the road map. True, the action will not do much for PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas´s stature on the Palestinian street, but it was Rantisi not Sharon who openly said he is opposed to the road map and would try to scuttle it.

Sharon also does not seem to think such an action is against the spirit of the road map if there is such a thing.

Israel has made clear it will not tolerate a situation whereby Abbas does not take action against the terrorists, and the terrorism continues. The mantra from the Prime Minister´s Office for weeks has been that Israel will give Abbas a chance, but that if he doesn´t take action, Israel will. Abbas has not taken action, so Sharon did.

There are those who will argue that the attack on Rantisi was an attempt by Sharon to torpedo the road map and that it fits into a pattern whereby movement toward some kind of quiet on the ground inevitably triggers an Israeli response that puts paid to these efforts.

Those who subscribe to this school of thought ask: "Why now?" Rantisi has not just emerged as menace, but has been one since the beginning of the violence, and prior to that as well.

Why now? Because Rantisi drove into Israel´s crosshairs, because he pledged to kill more Jews, because intelligence information indicated he was serious about carrying out his pledge, and because he said he could not accept the road map. Had Sharon dispatched the helicopter gunships to destroy the road map, would he also be sending in troops to dismantle outposts? (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 06/11/03)

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