--- Los Angeles Times: "Along with prisoner releases, the next important element in moving ahead with the 'road map' is the Palestinian demand that Israel withdraw from more of the West Bank."The Palestinians start making outrageous demands, and then Israel has failed to uphold the Road Map if it won't meet them. Absolutely nuts. Apparently the Road Map is whatever the Palestinians want it to be.
Again, prisoner releases are not a part of the road map. And according to the road map, the PA's obligation to uproot terror is clearly "the next important element."
Many Israelis maintain that there can be no calm until the security forces strip the militants of their guns, lock their leaders in jail and put a stop to all incitement.The LAT won't say this is all required by the road map (even though it very clearly is). Of course, this isn't good enough to satisfy the prediction, because it requires this to actually happen, not just be hypothetical. But I think my chances are pretty good.
Leery Israeli officials fear that the cease-fire could merely give Hamas time to strengthen for an eventual revolt. They have asked the United States to monitor the Palestinians to make sure Hamas and the other factions are broken down and disarmed. Israel is expected to press Rice for guarantees that the militants will be disarmed.
"In and by itself, this does not substitute for the need to really fight terrorism," said Raanan Gissin, an advisor to Sharon. "There's no avoiding the need to dismantle the terror infrastructure, to take Hamas and outlaw it."
The emerging truce has received a lukewarm response from Israel and the United States, who say that armed groups should be dismantled as required by the road map. Palestinian officials fear a crackdown could trigger a civil war and have opted instead for persuasion.It was a badly-written prediction, I can now see, because journalists are not supposed to judge whether or not someone is complying with something--they are merely supposed to offer facts and quotes. It is not up to the LAT to tell its readers that the Palestinians are not complying with the road map--it is up to the Israeli government to make that one of its talking points. Of course, the Times never seems to have any trouble figuring out who is responsible for inflaming the situation, restarting the cycle of violence, or undermining the peace process, so this wasn't a completely terrible guess.
With Palestinian resistance groups reportedly on the verge of calling a cease-fire, Israeli soldiers steered their helicopters over a stretch of road in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and fired a pair of rockets into the traffic. A taxi driver and a 22-year-old woman died in Israel's latest attack on Hamas, Palestinian sources said.Look at that first sentence: the Israelis flew their helicopters over a road, fired into traffic, and killed two civilians. The bloodthirsty Israelis flew their helicopters over a civilian area and fired a pair of rockets* into the street, just to sabotage the peace plans. Nope, no bias there. The LAT is not even willing to assume that Israel was, indeed, targeting a terrorist in that traffic and was not just firing blindly into the street. Their "objective" description of the event is that Israelis flew over a civilian area and shot at it, killing people. The Times leaves it up to the Palestinians to mention Siam.
Palestinians called the airstrike a botched attempt to assassinate Hamas radical Mohammed Siam, who lost his leg but survived — one of more than a dozen Palestinian casualties in the attack on the militant group.
An Israeli security source said the target was a Hamas cell driving toward farmlands on the edge of the town of Khan Yunis with a stash of mortar shells meant for an attack on a nearby Israeli settlement.
The afternoon strike further muddied preparations for a Palestinian truce. Some Palestinian radicals said a cease-fire agreement had been reached and could be announced within hours; others said there was no such accord.
The afternoon strike further muddied preparations for a Palestinian truce. Some Palestinian radicals said a cease-fire agreement had been reached and could be announced within hours; others said there was no such accordBut the LAT assumes it knows exactly why the Palestinian militant groups have suddenly gone from being sure of a truce to being confused about it: of course, this is all Sharon's fault for the airstrike. Palestinian militant groups have been acting this way all along--they say they are not sure of a truce, some Palestinian announces there is a truce, then another one denies it, etc. They have been doing this kind of thing a lot for the past few weeks (the PA will announce there is a ceasefire soon, then take it back). And yet, the LAT says the reason the peace deal appears to be flimsy is not because deals with Hamas pretty much always appear to be flimsy--no, it's all Sharon's fault!
The explosions occurred just as a flurry of reports were circulating of an immediate call to peace from militants. There was apparently no connection, although Wednesday's attack was the latest in a string of Israeli attempts at "targeted killings" of Palestinian militants as mediators are struggling to broker a truce.Maybe the LAT could ask the question: if Hamas is intent on agreeing to a ceasefire, why is it trying so hard to carry out attacks against Israel right now? Why are the Israeli airstrikes put in the context of peace negotiations, instead of the context of "Hamas is trying to carry out attacks against Israel and Israel is trying to stop them?" Like I wrote earlier, to Israel-haters, Israel is expected to accept Palestinian terror attacks during this time of "negotiation" between Hamas and the PA--and any defensive action by Israel is automatically categorized as a provocative attack on the peace process.
Despite a desperate push to implement the U.S.-backed peace "road map," the blood of suicide bombings, army raids and gun battles has continued to stain these lands.
So what, exactly, happened?
Israel Militants OK Three-Month Reprieve AP - Jun 25 4:33 PM Militants Deny Truce on Israel Attacks AP - Jun 25 4:34 PM Hamas Says Israeli Truce Deal Not Final AP - Jun 25 3:54 PM Airstrike, Threats Undercut Mideast Truce AP - [approx. 3:30pm] Hamas, Islamic Jihad Agree to Truce AP - Jun 25 11:42 AM Hamas Set to OK Halt on Israeli Attacks AP - Jun 25 10:38 AM Hamas Agrees to Halt Attacks on Israelis AP - Jun 25 10:35 AM
Security forces averted a suicide bombing in Petah Tikva on Wednesday morning. After receiving a tip, they nabbed the suicide bomber and his helper in Kafr Kasim, and found bomb hidden in a bag. Its detonation left a one-meter-deep crater in the road.Note that this was not even a targeted assassination, it was a purely defensive attack against a group of men in the process of carrying out an attack on civilians.
Officials estimated that the bomb contained 12 to 15 kilograms of explosives and shrapnel.
The two terrorists are affiliated with Fatah's Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade in Nablus.
However, the group said Sunday evening that it was still weighing a possible cease-fire, which the Palestinian Authority has been trying to negotiate. One of Hamas' key demands is an end to the campaign of what it calls assassinations.This is what appeared in an AFP story:
One of Hamas' main demands is that Israel halt its controversial policy of assassinations.These are obviously the Hamas talking points. The LAT and AFP both got the memo. Of course, there is no mention that it is understood by Israel that no targeted killings would take place during a ceasefire. That is not a point of contention. Hamas and the PA are arguing about other things.
But Hamas has always rejected peace talks with Israel, and said its demands for a cease-fire included a halt to Israel's targeted killings, the release of Palestinian prisoners and a troop withdrawal from Gaza.If all Hamas wanted was a ceasefire, it could have had one. What it wants is a get-out-of-jail free card for all of its captured terrorists, so they can go back to work. What are Hamas' other demands? Why isn't Hamas more public about the exact conditions under which it would accept a ceasefire? Of course, the answer is that it is stalling and does not want a cease fire.
What Hamas really wants is for the assassinations to end before it agrees to a ceasefire; in other words, Hamas keeps bombing, and no one--not the PA or the IDF--tries to stop them. In fairy-tale-land, this is supposed to be a temporary time period during which Hamas works out a ceasefire agreement with the PA, and then stops bombing. Israel's assassination strikes supposedly undermine the Palestinian Authority's ability to bring Hamas to agree to a ceasefire. In fairy-tale-land, this time period of bus bombings and Israeli restraint is an integral part of the peace process, and will lead to cooperation, trust, and happiness. If only Sharon stays his hand, so the theory goes.But this is exactly what a PA man said today:
"We still haven't received any American guarantees or replies from Israel, which is continuing to avoid holding another round of security meetings with the Palestinian Authority," said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a senior adviser to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.In other words, the Palestinians want Israel to stop the campaign of assassinations before they stop carrying out suicide bombings--which they tried to do again today.
"In any case, efforts to reach a cease-fire are facing huge problems because of the ongoing Israeli policy of assassinations and [military] escalation," he said, adding that the PA is awaiting assurances from the US that Israel would stop its military escalation.
On Tuesday, at close to midnight on a lonely stretch of toll road that runs inside Israel proper but skirts the West Bank, a gunman fired from close range at a car carrying the Leibowitz family home from a bar mitzvah in Jerusalem. Noam, 7, riding in the back seat, was fatally hit; her 3-year-old sister, Shira, was wounded.I hope this is a permanent trend towards better coverage of this issue.
This was an example of the kind of low-level violence that many Israelis fear will persist during the quest for a peace accord, even if Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is able to negotiate a temporary truce with militant groups such as Hamas.
I predict what will appear in the Los Angeles Times' Israel/Palestine coverage before it is actually published. This is a study in whether I can regularly predict media bias (and quantify it in an objective manner)