This timing should surprise, uh, no one. Call it Israel’s gift to Obama! From
CNN:

Israel plans to have its troops out of Gaza as soon as possible after the weekend cease-fire that ended three weeks of fighting in the Palestinian territory, Israeli officials said Monday.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that the pullout, which already had begun Sunday, could be finished by Tuesday evening.

The official, who declined to be named, said that the withdrawal could be complete before U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes his oath of office in Washington at noon ET Tuesday — 7 p.m. in Israel — though commanders have not been given that deadline.

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that it had begun withdrawing some troops from Gaza, and Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Sunday that troops would be out in a matter of days, not weeks.

The moves follow separate cease-fire declarations by Israel, which mounted a three-week offensive aimed at crippling the territory’s Hamas rulers, and by Palestinian factions in Gaza that have been firing rockets into southern Israel.

During 22 days of fighting, Palestinian officials in Gaza have reported more than 1,200 Palestinians killed, while Israel has reported 13 Israelis killed. Palestinian medical sources said 23 bodies were pulled from rubble Sunday in Gaza, adding to the Palestinian toll.

In Washington, a top Obama aide said the president-elect would move swiftly to work on the Middle East after he replaces President Bush in the White House.

“The events around the world demand that he act quickly, and I think you’ll see him act quickly,” David Axelrod told CNN. But he refused to promise Obama would name a Middle East special envoy “on Day One.”

There is no mutual cease-fire agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians — each side has made its own unilateral declaration of a cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday the Israeli offensive had achieved its goals but reserved the right to respond to any Palestinian violence against Israelis.

Israel said it launched the offensive in Gaza to stop the firing of rockets — primarily the short-range homemade Qassam rockets — from the territory into southern Israel by Hamas fighters. Watch CNN’s Nic Robertson report from an Israeli border town »

But Palestinians fired at least 19 rockets into Israel on Sunday — including at least two after the Palestinian cease-fire declaration, according to Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. At least three people were wounded in those attacks, and Israeli military aircraft retaliated, firing missiles and destroying a rocket launcher, a military spokesman said.

In its declaration, which appeared to cover all Palestinian militant factions, Hamas demanded that Israel remove all troops from Gaza within the week and open border crossings to humanitarian aid and basic goods.

Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006 and wrested control of Gaza from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement in 2007. Abbas, who still controls the West Bank, called for the cease-fire to hold Sunday.

“We hope that it continues and that the situation calms down and that humanitarian aid delivery begins immediately to our people,” Abbas said at a summit in Egypt.

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  • If this doesn’t seal the election for Bibi, nothing will.

    Idiots.

    And I’ve been hearing all week that the hamas “leaders” are holed up in the basement of the hospital in Gaza City. You mean to tell me that the IDF couldn’t send in a squad and extract them?

    And where is Shalit? And Olmert and Barak say that all of the goals of the operation have been met?

    Why, why, why, let Hamas off the ropes? I hope that Israel just assumes they will break the ceasefire and that that will give them the opportunity to repsond. Otherwise, just more gultess fecklessness.

  • I agree with Ephraim. The Israelis did not finish what they went in for. If they came out because of Obama, that’s stupid. Finish the job you went in for and get it over with. Now the international community won’t be able to enforce any sort of arms embargo through Egypt and it will have cost an awful lot for nothing. And now the opportunity has been lost. It probably will never come again.

  • Gene – of course the job was not completed (not that the gov’t ever really made it clear what the job actually was, though the ideal goal was obvious to all). I do think the timing of the end has to do with the inauguration, however, I don’t think that is the reason for the end. The reason Olmert finally did something is because of the combination of public pressure and the upcoming elections. However, his party did not rise in the polls as expected, and so it was decided to end the operation early.

  • Well, the best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft aglay….

    The fact that Olmert thought a blatantly political and less-than-completely victorious campaign would boost Kadima vis-a-vis Likud just shows how stupid he is.

    The elections can’t come too soon.

  • Israel doesn’t fit in the middle-east. What the heck are they doing in the middle of 23 countries that are mostly enemies of Israel? Actually, Israel doesn’t fit anywhere on the map, ask any rabbi and they will tell you.

  • It could be that Israel did not believe the next administration would be as friendly to the conflict as the current regime. It could be that Israel knew this and made an all-out effort to get as much done as possible within that time frame.

    This conflict is not resolved as each and every person here well knows. This will be used both for and against each side during the next wave of violence. It saddens me to say this…but I truly believe that one side needs ultimate victory.

  • Ephraim,

    Consul-General for the Mid-Atlantic Region came to Pitt. I asked him about Shalit. He said that securing his release was not one of the objectives of the operation. That made me furious.

  • Joshua – you should be furious. Unfortunately, none of us should be surprised. I don’t think I’m angry at any of this anymore. Just sad.

  • yes, the word “become” is missing. should have come between “place” and “a”.

  • Olmie and Livni are not stupid.

    But politics is like striptease – like the old song says, “ya gotta have a gimmick”.

    What’s Kadima’s gimmick?

    “Patriotic But Pragmatic Peacemakers”

    This is what marketers would call Kadima’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

    Kadima’s ONLY differentiator from the Likud is the “Pragmatic” part – implying that Oslo-style concession-based peacemaking is the wave of the future, and that whole-Israel Likudniks are holding back the birth of the New Middle East.

    So: even though both Olmie and Tzipi probably KNOW that the Oslo dreams have come to naught, and KNOW what should be done – they can’t consciously acknowledge it or do what must be done. Because admitting the “pragmatic peacemaker” part of the platform is wrong eliminates Kadima’s only differentiator, and begs the question “why not vote Likud – after all, the hawks and Bibi called it correctly.”

    Those of us who successfully predicted the disastrous outcome of the Gaza expulsion, always knew that Kadima – a political one-trick pony – would be a one-election wonder.

  • We can safely conclude, right, that Olmert et al. decided not to take out Hamas– because Israel can do so today, if it chose. Why leave it intact? Because it can be bargained with and deterred? Because its own population can now be counted on to rise up against it? Or, because there is no political strategy underlying the military one?

    The latter’s most plausible. The campaign seems to have been undertaken without a thought-through endgame.

    In Iraq, Rumsfeld also ignored postwar policy, but at least he got rid of Saddam.

  • I don’t think it’s that easy, Tom. Unlike Saddam, Hamas has a strong grass roots presence and support. They are like weeds – you can beat them back but you can’t completely eradicate them.

    I don’t think that there was no endgame, I think the Israelis wanted to teach a lesson, change the dynamics of the situation and try to create control mechanisms for Hamas arming itself. While these issues still have to play out, the first and second goals were achieved.

    We already agreed that Obama’s inauguration was going to be the deadline, so they were clearly working within parameters that were solid and immutable. I would wager money that Obama and Co. knew about this incursion and gave either an explicit or tacit consent. There’s no way the Israelis would pull this off with a new President coming in without at least checking first.

  • I didn’t see too much of it, Middle, apart from the swearing-in and Obama’s speech. The latter I thought was a pretty good effort, a little too heavy on policy specifics to rank up there with top-drawer inaugurals. But he puts a speech over well. He clearly has the raw skills of a good leader.

    In general, I think we still don’t know if Obama will govern as a closet centrist/pragmatist, or pay regular homage to his Moveon.org constituency. Maybe he doesn’t know yet, either. The stimulus package’s final shape will be a powerful hint, as will his attitude toward an auto bailout.

    Certainly the very fact of his swearing-in is an important contribution to history. if he does nothing else, he’ll have accomplished breaking through this last racial barrier. For that we can all be grateful to him.

    What did you think?

  • Without going too meta on this, perhaps he’ll be pragmatic about when to be partisan, and when to be centrist – depending on how it will advance him.

    I thought the speech was more comprehensive than any he’d previously given, and therefore took time for me later to go over all the details. Not just content, but complex points of tone and even gesture matter with this guy. I may be biased, but it seems there’s nothing too small to be missed with him.

    That being said, I thought it was surprisingly strong on the message to our adversaries overseas. The domestic bits were incredibly pragmatic and well-balanced, but unapologetic about things that lefties will swoon over. Getting back to foreign affairs, though, I liked the bit about an outstretched hand and an unclenched fist. Very poetic, and the Arabs love their poetry.

    I left a comment about this on a blog by an unabashed Israeli hawk at HNN who actually liked Obama’s speech. She hated him previously. What he did was to drive a wedge between a pluralistic and solidarity-driven sense of internationalism and Islamist provincialism. He did this more effectively than any nationalist could have done it. I thought it was a brilliant, if creative and untested move. Don’t you?

    I almost always appreciate Tom’s thoughts on Obama as they provide a broader sense of perspective. Thanks.

  • Well, the momentousness of the occasion definitely hit me. He broke a significant barrier. That alone qualifies him as a special person and this day as a special day.

    The speech itself wasn’t his best, he was better in the final speech before the national election. What did strike me, however, was that this is a man who understands what he’s about and what he needs to do. That’s a significant shift from the guy we just had in there. To put it simply, he is book smart and he is street smart. He has an ideology, is curious enough to learn what he needs to learn but also seems smart enough to understand how to implement.

    It’s obvious by now that he envisions this economic doghouse we’re in as an opportunity to implement some major social programs and to bring about changes that would have been much more difficult to implement without a crisis.

    You could say the economic meltdown is to Obama what 9/11 was to Bush: a turning point for the nation; a piece of significant leverage over other politicians; a personal and national cause; and a powerful machine to break down solid (political and social) walls.

    I think his remarks to Muslim nations were a little scary to a supporter of Israel. Israel is a huge bargaining chip and he may well be disposed towards forcing its hand anyway. There may soon be serious friction between Washington and Jerusalem.

    Overall, he made the impression of a strong, confident and capable leader who will try his best. If he fails, it won’t be for lack of ability; he gave the impression that if anybody can do it, he can. I guess I kinda have to eat my preference for Hillary over Obama. Today he was as good as advertised: a beacon of hope and change.

    ps A little too much Christianity in there for this Jewish person. Good old Yehoshua/Jesus came up with the Lord a few too many times.

  • “ps A little too much Christianity in there for this Jewish person. Good old Yehoshua/Jesus came up with the Lord a few too many times.”

    Maybe so, but that Warren guy recited the Shema. In English.

  • By the time Warren got around to reciting the Lord’s Prayer he’d demonstrated how concise Jesus was…. In the words of James Brown, hit it and quit.

  • Re: Obama and Israel

    In the section on Iran on the White House website, Iranian nukes have gone from being “unacceptable” to just “troubling”. And it tells Iran exactly what Obama is going to do about it: offer incentives for Iran to be nice. That’s it. Oh, yeah, and “tough negotiations with no preconditions” just like Obama said, and then said he didn’t say, and is now saying again.

    I don’t care how book smart or street smart or farm smart or whatever-smart Obama is or isn’t, but he obviously has never played a hand of poker in his life. All Chimpy Imadinnerjacket needs to do is look on that website and he knows that all we’re holding is a pair ot twos, if that.

    Israel’s on its own on this. Obama isn’t going to do squat about it, and now everybody knows it.

    Not only a tool, a pansy as well.

  • What the Jews think about Gentiles (Non-Jews).
    This article appeared in the magazine “Free At Last” under the title
    American Law, Fact, Fraud,
    and Insidious Insiders
    “Galatians, 4:16: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”–
    “We…continue to be amazed with the ease by which Christian Americans have fallen into our hands…naïve Americans…we have TAUGHT them to SUBMIT to our every demand…Americans have not had a presidential choice since 1932. Roosevelt was our man; every president since Roosevelt has been our man. We…have put issue upon issue to the American people. Then we PROMOTE BOTH SIDES of the issue as confusion reigns.
    “With their eyes fixed on the issues, they fail to see who is BEHIND EVERY scene. We…toy with the American public as a cat toys with a mouse. The blood of the masses will flow as we wait for our day of WORLD victory…The naïve politicians in WASHINGTON are gullible. Most of them are not too bright…the powerful…lobbyists influenced…years ago (federal funds to aid Israel) and there is no one strong enough to stop it…some of that money is returned to the United States and spent on Zionist propaganda…through B’nai Brith…Conference of Jewish Organizations… World Jewish Congress…tax free so long as we are smart enough to get away with it…
    “ANTI-SEMITISM does NOT signify opposition to Semitism. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. It is an expression we…use effectively as a SMEARWORD …used to brand…anyone who brings criticism against (us)…We use it against HATE-mongers… (we) do so. That’s all there is to it.
    “…I’d say more than 90% (of us) know what is really happening to our people. We have COMMUNICATION unequalled…It is an established rule to destroy all members of pre-existing government…the Police, State Police, Army officers and their families and relatives…In Russia, there are TWO distinct GOVERNMENTS – one visible and the other invisible…The INVISIBLE rulers in the communist countries have a world CONTROL over the propaganda and the governments in free countries. The cultural and intellectual influence of Judaism is felt throughout the entire world…MONEY is more important than morality.
    “We can accomplish anything with money…Israel can now win in any encounter…It will also be the base for World Government Headquarters. We CONTROL EVERY MEDIA of expression…newspaper , magazines, radio, television…even your music! We CENSOR…before long we will have COMPLETE CONTROL of your thinking…
    “The richest plum…(we) took over the publication of ALL SCHOOL MATERIALS…could MOLD public opinion to suit OUR PURPOSES. The people are only stupid pigs that grunt and squeal the chants we give them…truth or lies. There is no silent majority…only thing that exists is an UNTHINKING majority and unthinking they will remain…their ESCAPE from our rigorous service is the opiate of our ENTERTAINMENT industry. We have castrated society through FEAR and INTIMIDATION. Its manhood exists only in combination with a feminine…appearance… being so neutered, the populace has become DOCILE and EASILY RULED…their thoughts…only with the present toil and the next meal…You have become addicted to our MEDICINE through which we have become your absolute masters.
    “We pretty much CONTROL the U.N…There will be a forced class warfare here in the United States and many will be liquidated…I’m not boasting…I’m giving you the facts! It is TOO LATE for your Christian followers to put up a DEFENCE …Long, long ago we HAD to become the AGGRESSORS…that is undoubtedly one of our great PURPOSES in life…
    “Religion…our CONTROL of the textbook industry…news media…able to hold ourselves up as AUTHORITIES…our rabbis now hold professorships in supposed Christian theological seminaries. We are amazed by the Christian’s stupidity …Judaism is not only the teaching of the synagogue, but also the doctrine of every Christian Church in America. Through our propaganda the church has become our most avid supporter…their believing in the lie that we are the ‘chosen people’ and they, the gentiles.” “These deluded children of the church defend us to the point of DESTROYING their own culture…The ignorant Christians…attack the crusaders even if they are members of their own families…Through our influence of religion we were able to involve the ignorant white Christians in WARS against themselves, which always impoverished both sides while we reaped a financial and political harvest…
    “Through religion we have gained CONTROL of society, government and economics. The gullible clergy…instruct their parishioners that we are a special, chosen people…These PULPIT PARROTS extol our goodness for loaning them the MONEY to build their temples, never realizing that their own holy book condemns all USURY… pay our exorbitant INTEREST…they have led society into our CONTROL through the same practice.
    “Politically, they hail the blessings of DEMOCRACY and never understand that through DEMOCRACY we have gained CONTROL…DEMOCRACY is mob-rule which we CONTROL through their churches, our news media and economic institutions…These RELIGIOUS PUPPET’S stupidity is only exceeded by their cowardice, for they are ruled easily…”
    ************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *
    On Control, you may remember the 8/12/1976 sky-jacking of an Israeli jetliner in Istanbul, Turkey, in which four people were killed and some thirty injured. Aboard was the administrative assistant for then-U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits (a Jew) of New York, 29 year-old Harold W. Rosenthal (a Jew), whose unfortunate murder that day was not from random bullets that killed the others. Evidence indicates that his was pre-planned, making me wonder if it was due to his lengthy, boastful interview with American Christian editor Walter White.
    Please read the full interview at the following link. It is titled ”The Hidden Tyranny” and I hope from the brazen words above you will see why.
    http://www.rense. com/general66/ rosen.htm

  • qazi, I figure you’re part of the conspiracy, too. Why else are you posting comments on this site? Don’t give away all the secrets, you idiot!

    Ephraim, you forget the Clinton Administration’s successful Iran policy. After carefully cultivating moderate and reformist mullahs like President Khatami, we got Iran to foreswear sponsoring terror and drew it toward the West.

  • Middle, until the Lions turn it around, there’ll be nothing else to do on a cold day in Dearborn.

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