Translated from GegenStandpunkt 1-09
Operation “Cast Lead” in the Gaza Strip
Israel’s response to the threat of a two state solution
At the end of December, Prime Minister Olmert orders the Israeli army to launch “Operation Cast Lead”:
“The operation was launched following Hamas violated the terms of the ceasefire and the incessant attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians in the south of the country.” (Security Cabinet communiqué, Haaretz, December 27)
It is already clear from the metaphor chosen for this war that it is intended to seal Hamas’s fate once and for all. But Israel’s politicians, who derive their right to the “operation” from Hamas’s violation of the ceasefire, also explain what they want to achieve with this war in a form that is hardly diplomatically cryptic:
“The most important thing is to deal a blow to Hamas. We also need to tackle the problem of arms smuggling across the Egyptian border.... This is not a war that can be ended with a peace agreement. Hamas does not recognize Israel and is not prepared to end the terror and violence. Our war against Hamas is far from over, even if the current military operation comes to an end at some point.” (Foreign Minister Livni, Der Spiegel, 3/09) – “We are waging total war against Hamas and their kind ... Israel is in a war to the bitter end.” (Defense Minister Barak, Haaretz, December 29) – “The goal is to change the equation, to create deterrence so that they stop shooting for as long as possible.” (Chief of General Staff Herzog, Haaretz, January 1)
With its continuous bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force prepares for a 14-day ground offensive, which it then further accompanies on its deployment. Israel rejects all appeals for a ceasefire from the international community as “inadmissible interference in its security concerns” and after three weeks it unilaterally decides to end hostilities because it has achieved its goals – not without expressly reserving the right to respond to future attacks by Hamas with even greater severity.
I. The talk in the German press
While the democratic public in Israel ponders whether ‘shock and awe’ is going the right way, whether deterrence is now perhaps finally working – and therefore primarily raises the question of whether the Israeli army has not once again stopped too soon, German journalists are approaching the distant war with an account of the course of the war. The images of the devastation of the Gaza Strip and the defeat of Hamas and its supporters are supposed to speak for themselves – no information about the purpose of the war can be gleaned from them. The presented balance of the war is one of casualty figures, demonstrated by the “collateral damage” of an asymmetrical war: While on the Palestinian side there are 1,300 dead, 5,000 injured and 20,000 homeless, Israel laments 10 fallen soldiers, 3 dead civilians and a number of injured and people in shock. The presentation of the disproportionality of the weapons used – one learns that Israel’s high-tech army faces an arsenal of relatively ineffective short-range missiles that are either homemade or have been smuggled in by Iran through dark channels and a tunnel system – and the resulting body count is, for all its attention to detail, inappropriate: a skillful disregard of what this war is about. Instead of asking themselves why the state of Israel finds it necessary to create so many victims, it is clear to observers that there did not need to be so many. The lament about the suffering of the victims, however, is not just an abstraction from the purpose of Israel’s military actions, but rather aims at an interpretation of the war. While otherwise the fate of the war victims is intended to evoke partisanship for their cause, in this case the 1,300 dead Palestinians do not speak against the far superior enemy, but against Hamas, which entangles its own people in a “senseless war” and seeks “cowardly cover in residential areas.” And they speak for Israel, which, acting “in self-defense,” has to defend itself against “insidious attacks on civilians” and must stop violations of its own territory that “no state in the world can tolerate.” Instead of a verdict on the war, the German audience should immediately take to heart the justification that Israel itself provides for its action: It’s self-defense!
Right to exist vs. terrorism
The journalists agree with the Chancellor that Israel has the right to do everything to “protect its citizens” and to defend itself against the “threat to its existence,” namely the “terror of Hamas.” No matter how drastically the images of the Israeli work of destruction is presented to the public, it is unshakably clear who deserves our sympathy and our unqualified solidarity. The victims on the side of the Palestinians do not gain sympathy for their “liberation struggle,” but rather disgust at the cynicism of their leaders, who burn their people and constantly provoke the state of Israel. If, on the other hand, frightened Jewish citizens seek shelter in bunkers from the impact of Qassam rockets, then the Israeli government “must” react and eliminate “Palestinian radicalism.” As a matter of course, the local media adopts the Jewish state’s point of view and doesn’t worry about contradicting their code of honor, objective reporting – after all, “we” have a special responsibility to Israel.
Therefore, the bombing of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Air Force comes across as the fulfillment of Israel’s duty to care for at risk Jewish citizens, while Hamas’s violent actions to force the lifting of the blockade and thus the survival of the Palestinians are a clear case of terror. There is no doubting the “protection of citizens” as a justification for Israel’s actions, even if in the first days of the war there were more civilian casualties on the Israeli side due to the massive rocket fire by Hamas than in the entire year before; and the fact that Israeli citizens in uniform have to lose their lives is not a counter-argument at all in such an “emergency situation.”
Incidentally, the newspaper writers are not kidding themselves or their readers and attach great importance to the “protection of citizens”:
“What Israel aims for and wants to achieve with its military strike in the Gaza Strip is not a bold assumption. It promises security from escalating rocket fire and perhaps other things.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, January 10)
It is no secret that for Israeli strategists security is more than just stopping fired rockets. It is clear to realistically thinking journalists that Israel owes itself a ‘shock and awe’ military action simply because a regional superpower can’t tolerate hostile threats around it:
“Deterrence was also the aim of the Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. The rocket fire from Hamas fighters and other terrorist groups should be stopped; Palestinians should be made aware of the price that the civilian population has to pay for such ‘pinpricks.’ In addition, the deterrence was also aimed at arms suppliers and drivers of conflict in Tehran and Damascus. Israel, as the message goes, is prepared to use all of its military capabilities and also accepts the disapproval of global public opinion in order to defend its security and ultimately its existence.” (FAZ, January 22)
A brave little nation! It has the guts to deter outright! If the grass no longer grows in the neighborhood, if Israel has everything under control – under penalty of renewed military action – and thus makes clear what kind of power this nation claims for itself and wields, then the writer does not become fearful or anxious. Ultimately, “drivers of conflict” who target Israel’s existence must be stopped. The FAZ columnist wants “ultimately” – for Israel’s existence, the most demanding definition of security is required – to interpret Israel’s legal title for all its wars, “defense of the Jewish state’s right to exist,” just as broadly as its politicians: the Jewish states sees its existence threatened by “pin pricks” in the form of impotent acts of violence from the occupied territories with which the “militant Palestinians” defend themselves against Israel's terror, because their claims to a state of their own within the 1967 borders continues to live on; its right to exist is also at stake if Syria claims the return of the Golan Heights as a condition for a peace agreement, and especially if Iran wants to dispute its monopoly on nuclear power in the region. As a result, its right of defense is not simply a little more lavish than that of its neighbors; it explicitly excludes that of the others. With a great deal of empathy for Israel’s special need for security, the German media propagates that the state of the Jews can make its territorial and power claims absolute and teach anyone who disputes them a violent lesson.
With regard to the war enemy, Hamas, the opinion leaders agree with the qualification that the political leaders in Israel, the USA and the EU have designated: this is a “terrorist group.” What Hamas wants politically is not only irrelevant, but aptly characterized as terrorism: destruction of everything “we” cherish in terms of values, out of pure malice and Islamic fanaticism. This is clear from a look at its 1988 charter which still denies Israel’s right to exist – welcome proof that Israel is right to pursue the destruction of this group. Anyone who argues that Hamas has made it clear for years that its willingness to come to terms with the state of Israel depends on Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders downplays its dangerousness and outs themself as a terrorist sympathizer. And the villainy of this group is most strikingly demonstrated in the fact that they neither openly enter the battlefield nor, outnumbered as they are, surrender nor allow themselves to be shot down. Anyone who objects that it chooses guerrilla warfare as the only possible form of warfare because of its weakness is distorting the facts: it perfidiously hides in civilian facilities, attacks the Israeli army from refugee camps and takes “its own population hostage.” It is therefore to blame for the victims of the Israeli bombing:
“Around 1,300 dead, more than 5,300 injured – the blood toll that the Palestinians had to pay because Hamas thought it could provoke Israel is terribly high... The (population of the Gaza Strip) having to accept Hamas’s claim that the people have achieved a great victory seems like sheer mockery. In fact, the Palestinian people paid a high price for Hamas’s not-at-all-heroic fight.” (FAZ, January 20)
So it is clear from the outset which side is right and which should lose.
Concerns about war – within due limits
From this fixed standpoint, our media worries about whether the good side is doing everything appropriately. They do not care about the purposes that Israel actually pursues with its “action.” Instead, they subject the conduct of war to their critical assessment of whether Israel is serving its actual goals, which we know better than they do themselves and which we summarize under the title of a ‘lasting peace solution.’ They want to give their approval to the slaughter only on the condition that they can see progress. They defend themselves in advance against expected objections by putting their motive for criticizing, which is above criticism, in the right light; this does not come from “arrogance” towards the Jewish state, but from “our special responsibility to Israel.” And we notice this responsibility when we have to point out fundamental failings on the part of the government:
“The country went to war without having answered three fundamental questions positively. Anyone who starts a war must first have used all possibilities to achieve their goal without using the army. A war must also maintain proportionality. And it must have the chance to achieve the war goal. Israel is weak on all three points. Israel has never tried to talk to Hamas, 820 dead Palestinians and 13 dead Israelis speak for themselves, and the government has not yet formulated a concrete war goal.” (SZ, January 12)
Just a moment ago, we were told that Israel’s position is that terrorists should never be negotiated with and that the only adequate response to Hamas is to disarm and destroy them – and now Olmert and Livni are accused of being unwilling to talk! Obviously, the conflict adviser from the SZ, with his “failed dialogue!” verdict, has decided that he considers thwarting terrorists to be an inappropriate solution to the problem – to him, talking them into surrendering seems more effective. In any case, he could have asked himself a few fundamental questions before this war, so that a correct approach would not have been missing. Even “a war” “must” stick to certain rules – after all, where would we be if everyone just started shooting without specifying the target?! May one ask the writer from where he picked up this “must”? Who invented this war etiquette? Not, in any case, the nations that have decided to go to war. By inventing a code of conduct for decent wars, the strict critic first imposes a case-independent norm on the Gaza war and then problematizes it point by point as a violation of this norm. The war can’t be recognized in the three-criteria catalog to be processed; it operates as a mixture of a police action in which the delinquent must first be read his rights, and a conflict resolution strategy in which – if certain guidelines are followed – military force is supposed to have a beneficial effect like a cleansing rainstorm. Israel therefore has to listen to some absurd accusations: How could it lose its patience and let the non-existing lines of communication break off? To assume a punitive war against Hamas is necessary, okay; but to mete out a level of punishment to the enemy that exceeds all proportionality, what a terrible lapse! Is it even permissible to bother someone who is struggling to deal with such remote and morally tricky problems with the reminder that waging war is not a matter of practicing an equilibrium theory? And to bother them with the question of what ratio between the resulting Israeli and Palestinian corpses the critic would find acceptable? And if Israel ends up ruining its chances of finding a satisfactory solution to the conflict by not knowing what it wants to achieve with its comprehensive work of destruction, it need not be surprised if it doesn’t get peace afterwards and then has to plan for the next war. A German commentator simply does not accept the fact that, as Foreign Minister Livni says in the Spiegel interview (see above), the current “operation” is not about achieving peace through war.
Even if the writer just quoted criticizes the disproportionate number of victims, he does not want to get carried away with a condemnation that simplifies the facts. He knows the motives of the Israeli side, which at first glance seem so “terrifyingly” “violent”:
“The lack of compassion for the civilian victims of the war is appalling. It could stem from the fact that Israel feels left alone and trusts no one but itself. An officer now admitted that the army is ‘very violent’ and does not shy away from any means because protecting soldiers’ lives is more important than protecting those of Palestinian citizens. Israel’s war against Hamas is also becoming a war against the civilian population. So far, endless suffering has been caused and endless hatred has been provoked. The damage is immeasurable.” (ibid.)
He indulges in the criticism banning topos that Israel’s official representatives tend to use to the nodding approval of their Western interlocutors: The Jews have always been abandoned by the whole world; therefore, their state should be allowed any possible “overreaction.” Empathizing with the Jewish national character, the author can indeed understand that Israel puts the protection of its soldiers above everything else and doesn’t stop at hundreds of Palestinian deaths – but not without considering another problem: Can the Jewish state with its penchant for ‘violence’ really afford to make itself more and more unpopular with its enemies? Can it really be indifferent to the psychological devastation and the build-up of aggression it is causing among the Gaza inhabitants with its bombs?
These critical tones already go too far for some opinion leaders. They muster all their legal wits to exonerate Israel from accusations of war crimes and breaches of international law. No sooner do they raise the question of whether Israel has exhausted all possibilities for protecting the civilian population in war than they reject it with a second rhetorical double question: Can international law even be applied to this form of asymmetrical war? And is it even reasonable to expect a party to protect the civilian population if they are attacked from civilian residential areas?
“When it comes to the imperative of protecting civilians as much as possible, high but not excessive demands must be made. Effective self-protection must always be possible. Otherwise international humanitarian law would also be perverted. Civilian targets may not be targeted. But what happens when the line between civilian and military becomes blurred?” (FAZ, Jan. 7)
While this opinion maker pragmatically makes it clear that in the case of Israel, “excessive” humanitarian requirements are out of place and the bar for the laws of war must be lowered, another argues strictly in a legal systemic way that it cannot be in the spirit of the laws of war – the logic of which he catches quite well with his reasoning – to make victory impossible for the superior party:
“Limiting war is necessary for humanitarian reasons and under international law of war, but it is a fine art with great risk. With fanatical enemies like Hezbollah or Hamas, this risk increases because of the different rationality and absolute goals of these warring parties. This is particularly true if the opponent rejects any lasting peace and – like Hamas – does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. ‘Proportionality of means’ ultimately means foregoing success and losing the ability to deter. As long as its troops are in Gaza, Israel is responsible for the order and supply of the occupied parts of the area and must exercise moderation there as a foreign occupying power. This also complicated the operations and success of the campaign, not to mention the later political consequences. The military finds it difficult to assert itself against the power of images of death and misery.” (FAZ, Jan 8)
Israel already has a hard time in its wars against an adversary who is not a respectable subject of international law, who denies Israel’s right to exist, does not recognize the enemy warring party and fights with means beyond all state “rationality.” Instead of pointing an accusatory finger at Israel, it is better to appreciate the artful but extremely risky limitation of this war; admire the tightrope Israel is trying to walk in its “complicated operation” of simultaneously waging war as an occupying power in a densely populated area; thus, take into account how the duties of an occupier come into conflict with the ease and necessity of waging war. Instead, “the media” prefers to present the darker side of war, so that Israel and its beleaguered military lose out in terms of image. It’s nice that at least once in a while there are still journalists who do justice to Israel and its problems.
A “disappointing result” – the war was a bad decision
When the government in Jerusalem expresses satisfaction with the course and outcome of the war: a “brilliant operation” (Olmert), and Israel’s right-wing nationalist opposition only finds fault with the destruction of Hamas having ended too early, then the experts in this country begin to warn. Of dangers that are not feared in Israel – because it only wants peace on its terms. Our critics, however, already suspected the worst at the beginning of the war and predicted terrible things: the peace that has not been established will take its revenge! Because they give Israel the task called ‘making peace’ and judge its war offensives by this standard, they see things as dark and their pessimism is then promptly confirmed. Putting ‘the radical Palestinians’ in their place and strengthening ‘the moderates’ around Abbas in order to find a two-state solution and reconcile with the Arab camp – the Olmert government should have been allowed to go to war for this, but no! The campaign is a complete disappointment for us, but a catastrophe for the Jewish state:
“Although no problems have been solved, some of the results of the three week war already seem certain.” “As a result of the war, Hamas lost a few hundred men, but not control of Gaza. Most of its fighters and key leaders survived. The idea that they could lay down their weapons under the hail of bombs... was unrealistic from the start... Abbas is burdened because his years of peace negotiations with Israel and America have achieved absolutely nothing even for the West Bank.” (SZ, January 22)
The extermination program against Hamas must be discarded as an “unrealistic” option because, as it turns out, it isn’t at all possible – the leaders of Hamas are still on the loose; and above all because the SZ editorial office can’t imagine how this could be done gently. The Israeli terror war has taken on forms that a civilized Western European can hardly tolerate – which is why the slaughter has disgraced itself, because it has taken on too much. If the Israeli strategists had sought the opinion of the SZ expert, they would have refrained from trying to crush the terrorists with bombs. The Hamas problem would have been elegantly resolved long ago if Olmert and Livni had supported Abbas in the previous peace negotiations and built up his party as an attractive alternative to Hamas. Instead, the Palestinian Authority has now been dismantled, Hamas remains at the helm in the Gaza Strip, and peace has become unattainable. If the actions of the Israeli government do not match the tasks that the SZ writer has set for it, wouldn’t it be obvious that it is pursuing goals different than the ones being foisted on it? But such thoughts are alien to him. Then he would be finished with the lamentation about the failure of reconciliation with the Arab world, and he would also have to forego the nice punchline that Israel is the main victim in this war:
“More than ever, Israel has become a pariah in the Arab-Islamic world, and never has the willingness in the region to accept the Jewish state as a long term neighbor and partner been so low. Hopes for lasting peace, security and normalcy were based precisely on the fact that Israel would one day be able to integrate into an Arab environment as a compatible community. – This utopia now lies buried in the rubble of Gaza, for years, if not for a generation. By then, of course, the demographic and political circumstances will change – and not necessarily to Israel’s advantage.” (ibid.)
However, the expert has sensitively listened to the concerns of Israeli politicians about certain dangers: He understands the hardships of a state that wants to preserve its character as a Jewish state – and links them to the “utopia” that a Jewish state would have to be finally accepted by its Arab neighbors and thus become on its part “compatible.” He warns that it cannot go well in the long run to distance oneself from one’s surroundings in a hostile manner and at the same time keep the Jewish essence pure – and in doing so he abstracts elegantly from the violence used by the “pariah” Israel (and its godfather, the USA) due to which it can’t be harmed by the disapproving looks from its neighbors. The fact that Israel, thanks to its superior military might, has long since not only rewritten “political realities,” but also countered the impending “demographic change” through preventive measures – from the exclusion of Israeli Arabs to the expansion of settlements to the war against the ‘Palestinians militants’ – only disturbs the ideal circles within which Israel’s hopeful mastermind moves. The fact that Israel creates facts in this way instead of allowing itself to be tempered by threatening realities does not prevent Mr. Cassandra of the SZ from raising his voice to warn the warlords in Tel Aviv about the even more dangerous consequences of their strike:
“The futility of the Gaza war, which is reinforcing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel currents worldwide, is demonstrated by the continued rocket fire into Israel by Hamas terrorists. It is naive to believe that Israel can destroy Hamas. Their fighters are not afraid of Israel’s troops because death is glorified as martyrdom. Hamas needs Israel’s war to exist.” (SZ, January 12)
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the war has given new fuel to all the prejudices against the Jewish state that are circulating around the world – and thus not exactly making pro-Israel advertising any easier for German anti-anti-Semitism – we must above all make the Israeli leadership remember that such a “senseless” war actually achieves nothing at all – except one thing: strengthening the wrong people, namely Israel’s enemies. The war attracts sympathizers to the losing team, thus strengthening Hamas because Israel has not taken into account the irrationality of its opponents: the war came just at the right time for them to expand the community of their fans who desperately want to catapult themselves into paradise with their sacrificial death: where the beautiful “Houris,” the 72 virgins, are already waiting for them. The antidote that “we” could offer to this madness would be a super sophisticated solution and strategic masterstroke: just talk to them instead of coming at them with force, as they expect!
“To date, Israel has not used the most important weapon in the fight against Hamas: words, negotiations, diplomacy, opening borders. Sooner or later, however, negotiations will have to take place. Hopefully sooner.” (ibid.)
When will Israel finally try to deprive Hamas of its lifeblood, war? It is strongly recommended to accommodate Hamas’s demands and bring them to their senses by not waging war!
In this way, the enemy image of Hamas is confirmed and at the same time Israel’s war on terror is called into question. The audience should ask themselves when Israel will finally come to the negotiating table in its own interest. A well-trained reader does not simply take sides with the military actions decided in Jerusalem, but rather masters with his teachers the hypocrisy marking the impartial referee: ‘We’ are certainly not Israel’s 5th column, but prove our justified, well-founded bias with our peace policy proposals.
Unsolicited advice and offers to help
After the war, German commentators rushed to come up with constructive suggestions as to what Israel should do to get out of the “messy” situation: humanitarian aid, reconstruction and resumption of the peace process are the well-known recipes, that is, demands on Israel that, from Germany’s perspective, must be fulfilled in the interest of a stable Middle East order. In doing so, one doesn’t just blurt it out: one shows understanding for the problems of the Jewish state, which it can’t possibly overcome on its own. Because Israel is “overwhelmed” by its “difficulties,” it urgently needs our advice on how to get out of the “impasse”:
“Given the circumstances, the Israelis appear to have resigned themselves to the fact that there cannot even be a ‘cold peace’ at the moment, but at best an extended ceasefire that reduces the immediate threat to their cities. They should now make up for what they have so far failed to do or prevented through tough controls: In the West Bank, where Fatah rules, the economic conditions should be improved to such an extent that the Palestinian population can experience the benefits of a peaceful arrangement with Israel. This also includes a consistent end to Israeli settlements.” (FAZ, January 22)
In order to eliminate Hamas, Israel needs the cooperation of its difficult partner Egypt, and for the upcoming reorganization in the region, more qualified powers must step up “to force the parties on the ground into negotiations”(Joschka Fischer). In order for them to finally budge, it must be made drastically clear to them that things cannot continue like this:
“In the Gaza Strip, an arrangement is even harder to find. An end to the blockade would help the population there, but would also inevitably be exploited by Hamas for propaganda purposes. And undoubtedly, if the border regime is relaxed, arms imports from Egypt will increase again, at the same time as an influx of Islamist fanatics into Egypt. The situation is deadlocked, with no short way out. Only when all sides accept this will there be any prospect of progress again.”(ibid.)
In such a tricky situation, which can only be resolved by experienced, world-class diplomats, it is good that a “recognized friend of Israel” is available to give his advice. Former Foreign Minister Fischer is knowledgeable about such sensitive issues and finds the right tone to criticize the Jewish state without incurring suspicion of anti-Semitism. After all, it is only in Israel’s interest to change its policy and accept “outside help.”
“Israel has fought seven wars against its Arab and Palestinian neighbors since its founding in 1948, including the current one in Gaza... But what has strategically changed for Israel as a result of all these wars since its founding? The answer is: not too much. Strategically, the initial situation in the core conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has remained almost unchanged over the past 60 years... To this day, the central question remains unanswered for both sides: Where does Israel begin, where does it end, where is Palestine?... Everyone involved knows that in the end only the borders of June 1967 will be painfully acceptable for both sides, including Jerusalem and a negotiated, smaller exchange of territory. Everything else remains evil pipe dreams for which innocent people continue to lose their lives. Israel will neither disappear, nor will the Palestinians raise the white flag and leave.” (Guest commentary, SZ, January 27)
Strategically, “not much has changed” there in the last 60 years?! Did Fischer fail to notice that during this period Israel has created political facts so that it has come considerably closer to its dream of a Greater Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state has become increasingly impossible? Has he perhaps not noticed what it has made of the UN slogan about the two-state solution? That it has dealt with this requirement of the international community by accepting it as an empty phrase, but has prevented anything that could contribute to its realization. That it has literally blocked the Palestinians from having an independent state – by building a fence far into the West Bank and expanding settlements in the middle of Palestinian territory. And that it has been given the blessing of its godfather, America, to do all of this. That the Israeli state has now achieved the position of not having to respond to the EU’s demands at all and is able to respond only very reluctantly to America’s appeals and to test the limits of the great protecting power’s tolerance. And now that the strategic situation has changed completely and the whole area is hardly recognizable anymore, the question is still being asked: “Where does Israel begin, where does it end, where is Palestine?” This question, which was delicate at the time of the founding of the Israeli state, when war was still being waged over every village and the territory gained was systematically subdued, has long since taken on a completely different meaning: today, keeping this question open is a pound of gold that Israeli imperialism uses diplomatically to reject all claims that conflict with its own – that is, to insist that the entire territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan is actually “Eretz Israel.”
Of course, none of this has escaped the expert on the tricky subject, neither the changed situation nor Israel’s increasing claims, when he asserts a “core strategic situation” that has been on the agenda unchanged since 1948. But because he is of the opinion that it is not Israel, but the world’s supervising powers that have to decide on the demarcation of the borders and the establishment of the state, he refers to the legal situation according to the UN resolutions and declares this to be the still valid situation which can provide the only reasonable standard for the still outstanding settlement of the conflict:
“Although this is abundantly clear after all the decades of conflict, the conditions for a two state solution have become and continue to deteriorate... with Hamas’s victory over Fatah and President Abbas, the Palestinians are back on track, in the year 1948. Because Hamas rejects any peace with Israel and is only prepared for a temporary ceasefire... And on the Israeli side, 200,000 settlers in the West Bank and the further expansion of the settlements weigh more than any noble words about two states. Given the facts on the ground created by Israel, there are rightly serious doubts as to whether a two state solution will even be feasible. The war in Gaza will massively increase this negative trend. Because one thing can already be stated almost with certainty: President Abbas and Fatah have suffered a total political loss on the Palestinian side.” (ibid.)
As long as a two state solution has not been implemented, the situation is not supposed to have really changed: Israel’s progress in seizing land through its settlement policy; the successful discrediting of Palestinian claims to their own state as Hamas’s “terrorism” or as Abbas’s “inability” to organize a peaceful polity; the systematic deterioration of the living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which finally underlines Israel’s diagnosis that Palestine can’t be made into a state; the clarification made to the rest of the world that it can’t come to terms with a political status quo in the region that Israel sees as an untenable threat – all this does not count for Mr. Fischer as a successful assertion of Israeli state power against the Palestinian will to found its own state, but rather as the pursuit of an “evil pipe dream” with which Israel is preventing the only tenable peace solution: “two states side by side.”
So Fischer simply does not accept Israel’s successes and calls for decisive intervention by the world powers. As a realistic diplomat, he lets the USA go first, but not without giving it the necessary strategy and a crucial obligation: the duty of unity, i.e. cooperative participation by the other supervisory powers. With this innocuous formula, he also makes it clear that the European legal right to a useful Middle East order must be taken into account in the peace dictate that is due:
“If you want to try to resolve this strategic dilemma into which both parties to the conflict have maneuvered themselves, then this can only be done from the outside: First, the USA must try to integrate Syria and Iran into a regional solution that would also fundamentally change the conditions for both parties in the Middle East conflict. And secondly, the two state solution would have to be imposed on the parties to the conflict from outside. The determination of the USA as well as the unity of the key international players will be crucial. If such an externally imposed solution fails, the entire region will slide into a dangerous confrontation during Barack Obama’s first years, which will not be limited to Israel and the Palestinians.” (ibid.)
The help that Fischer offers to the state of Israel as well as to its Palestinian counterpart consists in the fact that the USA and Europe force both of them into a peace order. After all, ‘we’ can’t allow regionally conflicting parties to create conditions that we never ordered! Our former foreign minister did his best and reports everything essential: the spirit of world order that speaks from Mr. Fischer must not be ignored!
The reason for the critical partisanship – the German-Israeli relationship
The idealism and ignorance that the Western and especially German public displays towards Israel’s real war aims testifies to the fact that they are definitely being taken into account. Explicit criticism of them is forbidden in the name of being partial to Israel – Holocaust! In the form of a wish list on which “co-shaping” the “peace process” and “re-ordering” the Middle East are at the top, one can say that “we” don’t like Israel’s perpetual warfare. The pseudo-constructive criticism of the actions of the Middle Eastern hegemon, the constant complaining about the missed opportunities of a peace process, is based on a specifically German and European suffering: the governments in Europe do not have the power to call Israel to order. It simply does not permit uninvited interference in settling issues of violence in the region. The Europeans must take note that Jerusalem, with the backing of the USA, has been ignoring resolutions by the international community for decades and at best doing the dirty work for its security interests in the region. And with every military offensive, European financed reconstruction projects among the Palestinians are razed to the ground. All of Europe’s attempts at asserting its economic and political interests in the region, not to mention its attempts to classify the “Mediterranean countries” as the EU’s backyard and to become the pre-eminent power in the broader Middle East, are being slowed down if not completely thwarted by Israel’s appearance as a regional superpower. World class European politicians are constantly confronted with the fact that they have long since been assigned the role of usher. The USA insists on its supervisory monopoly and the special role that it has earmarked for its special ally: It is to put Arab and Iranian nationalism in its place in this strategically important region of the world. Because of their dissatisfaction with this situation, the leading European nations are each trying in their own way to moderate Israel’s offensive urge without openly opposing it. German, as well as European politicians in general, like to present themselves as advocates of Israeli security interests, even if or precisely because the Jewish state defines them very differently than its helpful friends. They invoke diplomatic titles to which Israel has committed itself in the past and which are legally binding through the relevant UN resolutions, such as the “peace process,” “land for peace,” the “two-state solution” and the “reconciliation with the Arab World” in order to insert themselves into the Middle East as a force for order. They want to tame Israel and reduce its role as a regional superpower to a more manageable format. They simply do not want to accept the fact that the Jewish state is constantly confronting Europe with newly established strategic facts. Every war destroys the influence that the EU hopes to gain because it makes it clear that it has nothing decisive to use against Israel. The Gaza war is another such case.
II. The Gaza War
From Israel’s perspective, George W. Bush’s term in office was a “unique stroke of luck” (Olmert). Under no other US president has Israel had so much room to maneuver and received so much support. During his era, the government in Jerusalem made important progress in the conflict with the Palestinians and in relations with neighboring states. However, Israel is not satisfied with what it has achieved:
Israel’s balance sheet at the end of the Bush era
America has declared Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians as part of the war on terror that the US is waging with its allies around the world. Meanwhile, all key members of the “international community” and even the moderate Arab states – especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia – condemn the violent resistance of Palestinian groups against the occupying power and their armed struggle for a Palestinian state as terrorism. Israel is entitled to “not compromise on security issues” and only seek military solutions to anything it defines as a “threat to its existence.” The “peace process” is therefore de facto removed from the agenda. Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas because “terrorists only understand the language of violence.” Abbas, according to Olmert, cannot act as a real “peace partner” because he does not eradicate the “infrastructure of terror” and because of his weakness he “does not speak for the Palestinians.” Foreign Minister Livni dutifully agrees to talks with the Palestinian Authority ordered by the USA at the conference in Annapolis, Maryland, but, according to his counterpart, refuses to negotiate on the crucial issues – the definition of the borders, the return of refugees and the status of Jerusalem. The government does not comply with the commitments it agreed to in Annapolis, namely the dismantling of the “illegal” outposts and a settlements freeze. On the contrary: it is pushing ahead with the expansion of the large settlement blocs in the West Bank more than ever before, treating them as quasi-Israeli national territory and referring to a letter from Bush in which he describes their evacuation as “unrealistic.” The ring of Jewish-populated satellite towns around Jerusalem is nearing completion, making the division of the “eternal capital” finally impossible. By dismembering the West Bank, Israel is disgracing the political line of the “moderate” Abbas, who preaches to his compatriots that by refraining from violence the Palestinians can win the support of the USA and thereby ensure that the Jewish state has to admit a Palestinian one alongside it. All of the PLO leader’s please for Olmert to at least show that he is fundamentally prepared to compromise with moderate Palestinians through conciliatory gestures such as the release of Palestinian prisoners or easing the living conditions of the population in the West Bank, for example by lifting the roadblocks, remain unfulfilled. Despite appeals from Washington to strengthen Abbas’s position, the Israeli government is systematically dismantling it: with a cold smile, it even refuses to allow him to import equipment for his police forces, with which he wants to better equip them to fight against the militant groups, on the grounds of “security concerns.” The Israeli army, for its part, regularly carries out raids and mass arrests in West Bank cities under Palestinian security control, thwarting Abbas’s efforts to take control of the militant forces himself and deliberately undermining his authority. This also proves to the Israeli government that the Fatah police do not maintain order, that Abbas is not a reliable partner in the war on terror, and that his claims for autonomy are counterproductive from the point of view of Israel’s security needs.
Since Hamas’s victory in the 2006 parliamentary elections, Israel has pursued the political isolation of the Islamist party. When its head of government, Haniya, ousted Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, thereby pre-empting a coup planned by Fatah, Israel defined this as a terrorist act and decided to intensify its anti-terror war on this front. In doing so, it exploited the strategic advantage brought about by the withdrawal of settlers and the military from the Gaza Strip which was pushed through by Sharon. Israel is officially no longer an occupying power and is therefore no longer responsible for the living conditions of the population in Gaza, but it still controls the crucial resources on which the people depend: money, electricity and water. It also controls all the borders and decides over the import of needed goods, including fuel, medicine and food. In September 2007, the Israeli government imposed the blockade that continues to this day and only allows a minimum of supplies to residents of the Gaza Strip. Without much risk to its own soldiers, it shells targets on the coastal strip from the air or with artillery in the border area, and repeatedly allows tanks to advance a few kilometers deep into enemy territory. The purpose of the ongoing hostilities is not just to retaliate against Palestinian rocket attacks, but to wear down Hamas and the people it governs. Furthermore, the Olmert government makes it clear that it makes no sense for it to talk about a peace settlement with the Palestinians as long as terrorists are in power in the Gaza Strip, i.e. as long as the territory traditionally considered the Palestinian heartland is “enemy territory” (Olmert).
The American government under Bush has in principle supported the isolation of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, tolerated the expansion of living space for Jewish citizens in the West Bank, accompanying it at best with muted protests, and explicitly shown understanding for the fact that Israel bears an almost unacceptable security risk from the presence of Palestinians in its neighborhood. However, it has not deigned to support Israel in finally drawing a line under the vexed partition issue of 1948. Of all nations, the largest supporter of the Jewish state arouses desire among the Arabs with its “vision of a peaceful, viable and contiguous Palestinian state” “side by side with Israel” and tries to revive the peace process that had already been shelved at the Annapolis Conference. Although the Bush administration has made it abundantly clear in the ensuing months that it is not demanding a change of course from Israel, and that its Middle East initiative is rather a gesture to integrate the Arab allies into the anti-terrorist front against Iran and Syria and to “get the other world powers on board,” Israel sees itself set back, especially since it is not certain that a future US administration will stick to the course of the old one.
In the Lebanon War, the Olmert government sets standards in its relations with ineighboring states: it holds the entire nation liable for “terrorist acts” carried out from the territory of its northern neighbor. Israel’s air force first bombed Hezbollah’s positions, liquidated as many of its fighters as possible and made serious with its threat to destroy the “infrastructure of terror.” This includes (potential) retreat areas and hideouts, supply routes, all places that can be used as depots and workshops, training facilities and religious meeting places, and ultimately the entire living space of the Shiite population. The south of the country is being paved over with cluster bombs in such a way that for years to come its inhabitants will only be able to use it at risk to their lives. But the attacks are not limited to the region controlled by Hezbollah; roads, bridges and infrastructure are destroyed throughout the country. Olmert wants to teach the Lebanese government the lesson that as long as it does not disarm Hezbollah and disempower it politically, its country will not rest easy. If Lebanon tolerates enemies of Israel on its territory, its air force will undo 30 years of reconstruction in just a few days. A second lesson for Israel’s neighbors came in April 2008: Israeli fighter jets bombed a building in Syria that was said to be a nuclear reactor supplied by North Korea for the production of atomic bombs, which Damascus vigorously denied. The aim of the action was to demonstrate Israel’s determination to enforce its high security standards – when necessary – by military means throughout the region, without regard for the borders and sovereign rights of other states. Jerusalem reserves the right to decide which weapons and technology may and may not end up in the hands of its neighbors. It intervenes in Moscow when Russia negotiates with Syria or Iran over the delivery of modern Russian defense missiles and repeatedly calls on the Russian government to refrain from completing the reactor in Bushehr. Olmert & Co. demand that the UN Security Council members finally act and tighten sanctions against Iran. And because they expect that they will not take the desired action, they threaten to switch to a military solution to the Iran problem, which Israel might feel “compelled” to do. The Israeli Air Force is therefore making an example of Syria, Iran’s neighbor and ally, as mentioned above. The nuclear threat in Syria detected by Israel’s intelligence service is demonstratively eliminated on its own initiative. Israel continues to keep “all options open” to defend its nuclear weapons monopoly in the region.
However, the regional superpower is by no means satisfied with this successful demonstration of its deterrent power. The war in Lebanon is stylized in the nation as a national catastrophe, a “trauma.”  Because the Prime Minister has promised the unattainable – the liberation of three kidnapped soldiers – and because he has also refused to allow the Israeli army to launch a ground offensive, so that Hezbollah was weakened but not destroyed and the Shiite party still remains a key political force in Lebanon, Israel has lost its deterrence capacity instead of improving it. In order to make up for this shortcoming, according to unanimous public opinion, a completely successful military operation that builds on previous successes must be carried out as soon as possible. The trauma grew when Olmert and Livni, at the insistence of the USA, agreed to a ceasefire which was to be monitored by Europeans in the form of a UN peacekeeping mission in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701. From Israel’s perspective, there would be nothing wrong with foreign powers stopping arms smuggling from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah; however, to do this, they would have to act more rigorously against the supplier countries than they do and also monitor their borders. But it is completely unbearable that those who deal so sloppily with Israel’s security condemn its air force when it makes up for European failings with its patrol flights over Lebanon. The bottom line is that the UN resolution is a mistake for which the Bush administration is partly responsible. But it is not only in this case that the USA fails to prove itself as Israel’s main friend in the way one would like. The US administration explicitly prohibits the Olmert government from going it alone on Iran because it fears it will be drawn into a war that it does not want – at least at this time and in this way. It not only denies Israel the weapons it needs for this purpose, but also threatens to shoot down its fighter bombers if they enter Iraqi airspace on the way to Iran.
When Olmert & Co. conclude from such disappointments that Israel is ultimately “on its own when it comes to protecting its security interests,” they not only distort the facts, but also manifest the scope of their claim to power. The Israeli government knows only too well that the existence of the Jewish state depends on America’s financial and military support, and that only America’s security guarantees and diplomatic support give it freedom of action in foreign policy. It is also aware that it is largely thanks to Bush’s policies that Israel now stands as a regional superpower. But it is precisely because of the strength it has gained that Jerusalem finally wants to doom the relentless efforts of foreign powers to influence order in the region. Consequently, the Olmert team is determined to set its own standards for settling future conflicts, which the states of the region, “would-be world orderers” and even the superpower have to handle. It is true that caution is called for vis-à-vis the US because of its dependence. But this does not go so far that it takes orders from America. Israel “self-confidently” looks after its interests, testing out what the US will allow, and trusting that its main friend “will never abandon Israel” (Bush). In view of the upcoming transition in the White House, Olmert’s government considers it appropriate to set the course for the Middle East policy of the future with the help of the old administration.
Fighting Iran-controlled terrorism instead of a two state solution
The occasion for Operation “Cast Lead” is the resumption of rocket fire by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Hamas declares that negotiations to extend the ceasefire agreed to in June 2008 have failed because of Jerusalem’s refusal to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and resumes hostilities. The Olmert government responds with a major offensive, drawing the conclusion from its dissatisfaction with the success of its warfare to date. The blockade has not achieved its goal: Hamas is not thinking of surrendering, and the population will not be persuaded by the Israeli army's “counter-terrorism” to drive the Haniya government out of office. With an extensive smuggling system through hundreds of tunnels on the Egyptian border and thanks to financial support from Iran, the Islamists manage to halfway ensure survival in the Gaza Strip and equip themselves to fight Israeli attacks. Aware of their relative strength, they make demands in the ceasefire negotiations and refuse to hand over the imprisoned Israeli soldier Shalit unless they receive the quid pro quo they demand, the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. They insist on their right to resist the occupying power and will not stop fighting Israel until it withdraws to the 1967 borders and accepts a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. As “elected leaders of the Palestinian people” whose “legitimate interests” they represent, they demand negotiations with the Israeli leadership on an equal footing. Olmert sees this as an unbearable “provocation” by terrorists who are ostracized by all respectable states, which Israel, as a decent state – “the only democracy in the Middle East,” a high-tech military and nuclear power – must not put up with.
This war is not to be one of the usual punitive actions, but “should completely change the rules of the game” (Defense Minister Barak). The enemy must no longer be able to forcibly assert its political claims against the Jewish state. Israel wants to do maximum damage to prevent it from ever again finding a basis for effective resistance actions and obtaining the means to regain its former strength. The order for the Israeli army is to destroy all government and administrative buildings, to bomb as many supply tunnels to Egypt as possible, and to make it clear to the population that acquiescence to Hamas can be fatal and that in any case a normal life under its leadership will not take place for the foreseeable future: residential areas are shelled, thousands of apartments and workshops are destroyed, escape routes are cut off by military barriers, and schools where the UN refugee agency UNWRA provides shelter are shelled. Olmert and Livni have “learned from their mistakes in the Lebanon War”: The Prime Minister no longer talks about goals that “the Israeli army cannot achieve,” no longer ties the success of the war to the liberation of Shalit, but instead, in all modesty, promises only such a “serious blow” to Hamas that it effectively deters it from firing rockets at southern Israel. This time he no longer avoids a ground offensive, but rather prepares his people in good time for the risk of significant, “unfortunately unavoidable,” casualties. From the outset, his government preempts criticism from Europe and the Arab camp that the military operation violates the laws of war and human rights because it primarily affects the civilian population – and goes on the offensive: No state has the right to prohibit the Jewish state from fighting terror, and Israel cannot be accused of any failings in humanitarian issues. Israel is civilized enough to find the ideal mix between killing and humanitarian care: Barak demonstratively allows a few trucks with aid and medicine into the Gaza Strip before the first bomb is dropped, and every day of the war the army observes a two hour ceasefire.
As the most important lesson learned from the “Lebanon disaster,” the government in Jerusalem decides to no longer bow to international pressure. It is tired of fighting only to end up having to agree to a “compromise” with the radical Palestinians. It rejects UN Resolution 1860, which calls for a ceasefire; as a regional superpower, Israel does not allow other states to dictate to it; the war will last as long as Israel deems it necessary. Israel’s leadership sees the Security Council decision as a single affront: it ignores the difference between a democratic state as a victim and an organization of terrorists as a perpetrator – a difference that “must never be overlooked” – because it demands, without naming a subject, hence of both equally, an “immediate, permanent and comprehensive ceasefire” and condemns “all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.” In addition, the resolution calls “for international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza,” encourages “intra-Palestinian reconciliation,” calls for “urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region in which two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, as provided for in Security Council Resolution 1850 (2008), and firthermore to remember the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.”
So the highest UN body has simply not taken note of what Israel is trying to achieve with its Operation “Cast Lead”: there are no normal living conditions in Gaza, but the war will continue because and as long as Hamas is still stirring there; the formation of a Palestinian unity government is inadmissible because people with the terrorist goal of founding a state and a violent course of action must not be validated; the “vision” of two democratic states is no longer relevant, so the only task for the international community is to support Israel’s war on terror; instead of making demands for reconciliation with Israel, the Arab states should join Israel in the anti-terror front against Iran.
The Israeli government considers it scandalous that the US Secretary of State coordinated with the Europeans on Resolution 1860 because, by ignoring Israeli wishes, America stabbed its main ally in the back. After an intervention by Olmert, the USA abstains from the vote and thereby de facto deprives the resolution of its binding force for Israel. However, Jerusalem is not placated until the US government responds to Israel’s “suggestion” that it see the Gaza war as a “chance” for America’s reorganization of the Middle East, i.e. for its efforts to commit the Arab world and the entire international community to putting a stop to the terrorists and strengthening ‘moderate forces.’ The result of the persuasion is a “Memorandum of Understanding,” the “US-Israeli agreement to end arms smuggling into Gaza.” Here Bush makes up for everything that the Security Council so criminally failed to do. Following the pattern of UN resolutions, the US recalls its commitment to “maintain and strengthen Israel’s defense and deterrence capability” against “any threat or possible combination of threats”; states that “terrorist acts” cannot be justified “wherever, by whomever and for whatever reasons they are committed”; recognizes “the terrorist threat to Israel” “from arms smuggling” and “the creation of a terrorist infrastructure” in Gaza and understands that Israel “exercises its right of self-defense, which every nation has,” and “adequately defends itself against terrorism.” But what Israel considers even more successful than this whitewashing of any suspicion of “overreaction” and a lacking desire for peace is that America agreed in a treaty to lobby the international community to step up the war on terror, which it has long been committed to by relevant UN resolutions. Together with the NATO partners, the USA wants to address “the problem of arms shipments to Hamas ... through the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and East Africa,” existing agreements should be improved in this regard and new initiatives should be taken. Mentioned are, among others things:
“The expansion of existing international sanctions and the tightening of monitoring mechanisms against the supply of material support to Hamas and other terrorist organizations, including an international response to those states, such as Iran, that have decided to be a supplier of weapons and explosives to Gaza.”
After signing this “accord,” Israel unilaterally declares a ceasefire because it has “achieved the purpose of the operation.” This makes it clear that the purpose of the war was not only to kill a few hundred Palestinians, destroy smuggling tunnels and terrorize the population of the Gaza Strip, but not least to get the United States to once again formally confirm, against attempts by all other nations to interfere, Israel’s right to assert its own claims to power against the Palestinians and their “backers” with violence. At the same time, Bush should point his successor in the direction of a Middle East policy that does justice to Israel’s interests. And although Israel cannot be sure that Obama will comply with the last-minute agreement, the outgoing Olmert government has given the world of states a standard that it must now meet.
PS: At least Israeli voters understood the message of the Gaza war and immediately voted for the Zionist original; a clear right-wing majority went for Netanyahu, who stands for “improving the economy and security in the West Bank instead of ceding territory and solving the refugee problem” (Jordan Times, February 8), and for Liebermann, who for years had been calling for “maximum separation” of Jewish and Arab populations, including Egypt and Jordan. The man with a good chance of becoming the next head of government is certainly brimming with energy:
“If I am elected, my first mission will be to take down the Iranian terrorist pockets in the outskirts of Ashkelon and Beersheba (meaning the Gaza Strip) and to recruit the entire international community for this mission.Iran will not arm itself with nuclear weapons.” (Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, January 31)
 Hamas, if one believes the enemy image cultivators, would thus have thoroughly studied our church father Tertullian, who writes at the end of the 2nd century in his “Apologeticum”: “Excellent presidents, torture us, martyr us, condemn us, wear us out; your injustice is the proof of our innocence! ... And yet, the choicest cruelty on your part is of no use; it is rather a means of propagation of our cooperative. We multiply every time we are massacred by you: The blood of the martyrs is the seed of [for new] Christians!”
 See this article: Der Bruch zwischen Hamas und Fatah: Schon wieder eine Chance für den Frieden im Nahen Osten, Gegenstandpunkt 3-07 [untranslated].
 Avigdor Lieberman, the inventor of the blockade idea: “The time has come to shock the people of Gaza with actions that were previously repugnant to us – actions such as killing the political leadership, causing hunger and thirst in Gaza, cutting off energy supplies, causing widespread destruction and less embarrassing differences in the killing of civilians. There is no other choice.” ... “The population and its leadership are the same because the population voted for Hamas. I cannot make a distinction between a Hamas voter and a Hamas leader.” (Quoted in Al Ahram weekly, Feb. 5-11, 2009) Lieberman, chairman of the Yisra'el Beitenu party, served as Minister of Strategic Planning and Deputy Head of Government until June 2007.
 “... there is no justification for demanding that we allow the residents of Gaza to live a normal life while shells and rockets are fired from their streets and backyards at Sderot and other communities in the south (of Israel). ... Does anyone seriously believe that our children wet their beds in fear at night and dare not leave the house, while they (Gaza residents) can live quietly and normally?” (Olmert, Haaretz, Jan. 24, 2008)
 In the summer of 2006, Israel waged a two-front war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The reason for this is the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers and the shelling of Israeli territory by small rockets. See: 34-Tage Krieg im Libanon, Israel verteidigt sein Existenzrecht als regionale Supermacht, Gegenstandpunkt 3-06 [untranslated].
 See: Israel zieht die Lehren aus dem Libanon-Feldzug: Der nächste Krieg wird wieder ein echter 6-Tage Klassiker!, Gegenstandpunkt 2-07. [untranslated]
 Foreign Minister Livni: “Israel must take the initiative, because if we don’t put a plan on the table in Hebrew, we will get one in Arabic and French. Only an Israeli initiative can affirm Israel’s interests and also achieve broad international support for what we need to do at the same time, which is to fight terror.” (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2)
 Likud politician and former Interior Minister Sharansky during the election campaign on the Kadima party's argument that Netanyahu could endanger good relations with the United States: “‘It is absolutely ridiculous to claim that a candidate who says no to the Americans is dangerous ...’ He said it was historically proven that crises between Israel and the United States only arose when the Israeli government misinformed the American government about its policies.” (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2)
 “On the one hand, there is worldwide understanding that Israel is fighting terror – just as many other countries do. On the other hand, the images from the front are not useful for Israel. So we have to find a balance between the war on terror and the humanitarian situation. Israel is doing that. We have opened a humanitarian corridor. We are trying to help where we can.” (Livni, Der Spiegel, 3/09)
 During a speech in Ashkelon, Olmert boasted grandiloquently that he brought Washington back into line by telephone: “I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone.’ They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn‘t care. ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me... I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor.” (quoted in The Daily Star, Lebanon, January 13)
 “The Israel Defense Forces operation can and must be the turning point, not only to restore calm to residents in the south, but also to strengthen the political process in the region that both Israel and the United States want to advance. ... The operation created a strategic shift in the status of Hamas and extremist forces and can serve as a stimulus for the new (U.S.) government and the international community to change reality. ... We must take advantage of Hamas’s weakness and work together to create opportunities for strengthening moderate forces in the region.” (Livni to U.S. Ambassador Cunningham, Haaretz, Jan. 26).