The rockets and violent exchange with Hamas have brought in Rice today. We haven’t seen her since the Bush visit in January and the promise of Middle East peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of his term – hmm.. hmm..
Well, now there is a little problem called Hamas.

Condi is still supportive of Israel;

“There has to be an active peace process that can withstand the efforts of rejectionists to keep peace from being made, the people who are firing rockets do not want peace… They sow instability, that is what Hamas is doing… Hamas is doing what might be expected, which is using rocket attacks on Israel to arrest a peace process in which they have nothing to gain”

Hot WinterBut, the Hamas control of Gaza is a problem and one that is increasingly making Mahmoud Abbas looking weak. Since Hamas can’t be negotiated with, there is no way to declare a cease fire because a cease fire with a terrorist organization would make Hamas the legit ruler of the PA. In affect cutting off Abbas completely.

Abbas himself is in a bind. He called off talks with Israel on Sunday and then called for a cease fire that he would be the mediator in on Monday. By being the mediator he could claim to be the peace maker and the political leader of the PA. Weather or not Hamas will let that happen remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, “Hot Winter” (the name for the current operation) is rolling along. Hamas is continuing with the rocket attacks on Sderot and in recent days Ashkelon. The military assault by both land and air continue and there is a feeling that they are taking their toll on Hamas. Givaati (the combat unit fighting in the South of Israel) commanders are happy with results. It seems that lessons were learned from the war in Lebanon and that troops have been able to operate well in a very complex environment.

Barak while visiting the North border, sent a message to the residents of Gaza, calling for a cessation of rockets attacks and acts of terror inside Israel. When such activities will cease, the road will open for a different reality of peaceful and neighborly coexistence between the two sides. The activity in Gaza will continue for some time – it will not be a quick solution.

Barak was in the North as part of a “house warming” for 1,700 bomb shelters that were renovated in the last 8 months. The renovation spanned the North of Israel and included Akko, Naharia, Tiberius, Carmiel, Qiryat Shmone, Tzfat, Maalot, Hazor HaGlilit and Shlomi…
Let’s hope we won’t need them….

Hat Tip Picture: Amir Cohen