An act of terror claiming the lives of 20 people, six children among them in Haifa, shows that though much is being said about an end to violence, the Palestine-Israel conflict still rages
As in many cases before, hard on the act, Israel launched special operations searching for militant leaders in Palestine.
Effectiveness of these tactics has long been called into question since as soon as terrorists are killed, there are others taking over. Such response attacks don't stop the bombings.
This time, the confrontation has moved beyond Palestine, reaching an international scale: for the first time in 20 years, Israeli planes attacked Syrian territory. Israel says the attack struck a base of Islamic Jihad near Damascus. Two were wounded. Syrians and representatives of Islamic Jihad insist the site has not been used by Palestinian terrorists for a long time. An Islamic Jihad official told Al-Jazeera television members of the terror group were active on Palestinian lands only.
The blow means conflict has outgrown the limits of Israel and Palestine. It came unexpectedly for the UN Security Council - the UN is one of the mediators seeking peace through the "road map" process. This is clear because a Syrian resolution submitted at the Security Council and condemning "Israel's military aggression" has still to be considered. Most Security Council members have asked for extra time to consult their governments.
There's scarce been a UN resolution that has produced any strong effect upon Israeli policy. If resolutions bring benefits, then states seeking their adoption will do their best to persuade the UN to approve them and will further constantly refer to their existence. But when a resolution is considered disadvantageous, it can be disregarded even though having mandatory force.
A US official at the UN Security Council has already declared the White House view on Israel's raid. Washington says Syria and Israel must avoid expanding the conflict. But meanwhile, actions of the Israeli Air Force have received no condemnation from the US since "Syria is on the wrong side of the fight against terrorism."
This hesitation by the UN Security Council suggests unfavorable suspicions. It seems the Palestine-Israeli conflict (and Syria may be added here as well) has been given up on; it is believed the parties must settle the conflict themselves. This may not be true, but reaction to the strike in Haifa and the raid near Damascus is inert. Under these conditions, there is hardly one authority that knows what's to be done, either to pass a new resolution, or deport Yasser Arafat from Ramallah, or even both.
Affairs may develop according to a less happy scenario: what if Syrian air defenses are given the order to bring down Israeli planes? Damascus certainly does not need a large-scale war, but the same cannot be said of Israel since in any case it will receive US support. Fighting against terror goes beyond the notion of borders. Washington has been raising claims on Bashar Asad's regime for a long time.
This is the unhappiest scenario into which the situation may develop. The Syrian regime is unlikely to aggravate conflict because its army will be unable to resist Israel and the Americans. The story will just be a squabble on the diplomatic front.
No-one will include terrorists in the negotiations. Meanwhile, Hamas terrorists have promised revenge for the raid at the base near Damascus.
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