On Tuesday Palestinian terrorist groups, which set claims to Israel to free thousands of prisoners and withdraw troops from Gaza Strip in return to the life of captured corporal Gilad Shalit, cut talks with Egyptian mediators. The negotiations were stopped after Tel Aviv rejected their ultimatum and continued the military operation in Palestine. It is worthy of note that the fate of the abducted 19-year-old serviceman played the key role in the development of the conflict for Israel, although two other soldiers were killed during the attack at an Israeli post.
The conflict may proceed according to two different scenarios. Tel Aviv may continue with the large-scale military operation in Gaza Strip and exacerbate the situation further on. On the other hand, the conflict may pause for a certain time, and Palestine will deliver the abducted corporal due to external factors.
Israel is prepared for the first of the two mentioned variants. It is not ruled out, though, that Moscow’s interference may exert a positive influence on the current state of affairs between Israel and Palestine. If not, Russia will find itself in a very unpleasant situation taking into consideration the fact that the Russian administration acknowledged Hamas to be the legitimate power in Palestine.
The terrorists, who penetrated into Israel last week through an underground tunnel, killed two servicemen and kidnapped the 19-year-old corporal, have put Palestine in serious danger. Israel did not declare a war against Palestine with its Summer Rains Operation in Gaza Strip, but demanded the hostage should be released. The guerrillas from the Committee of People’s Resistance demanded Israel should free all women and children from Israeli jails but then toned down to 1,000 people. Israel refused to make any concessions. The liberation of hostages became one of the key subjects of talks held with Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni in Moscow.
Tzipi Livni arrived in Moscow to have official meetings with Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. The Russian administration promised to use its diplomatic capacity with Hamas in an attempt to release the abducted Israeli serviceman. “It is extremely important at the moment to release the Israeli military man,” Lavrov said after the meeting. The Russian minister added that Russia was using all diplomatic opportunities to make the incident end with a positive outcome. On the other hand, Russia offered Israel to make certain concessions for Palestine and release at least a part of the imprisoned Palestinians. Needless to say that Israel will never agree to make such a decision, although Livni maintained a highly diplomatic tone during the talks with Russian politicians and did not release any harsh statement at this point.
For the time being, Israel continues its Summer Rains Operation to destroy terrorists in Gaza Strip. The Israeli army is currently on high alert close to northern borders of the area. The army has taken an airport in the south of this Palestinian enclave near Egyptian borders.
Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon stated that Israel’s response would be extremely tough if the abducted soldier was hurt. “If, God forbid, they should hurt the soldier, our operations will be far, far worse," the minister said. The Israeli administration believes that the corporal is alive and will return to his home. In the event it turns out the serviceman is dead, the State of Israel will launch a massive attack against Palestine. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said there would be no exceptions made, so any Hamas member could fall victim of the attack, including Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh who is currently staying in Gaza .
It has recently transpired that the abducted corporal is still alive. This information does not seem to be true to fact though. A spokesman for the Palestinian group Army of Islam said the information about Gilad Shalit’s fate was not going to be exposed. The corporal was wounded in the attack last week. The Palestinian authorities said that the serviceman was fine, although it is still unknown whether he is dead or alive.
Moscow’s promise to assist in the liberation of the Israeli hostage lays too much responsibility on the Russian administration. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that she had come to Moscow hoping for Russia's help on the matter. The minister even said that a visit to Moscow was not in her schedule, but she had to put it in plan due to the tragic circumstances.
If Hamas does not release Gilad Shalit, it may mean that Russia is incapable of showing any influence on the Palestinian movement. Therefore, Russia’s role in the regulation of the Mideastern conflict can be minimized.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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