Saturday, December 23, 2006

Serious Israeli Carrot Being Dangled

Just days ago I suggested the pieces were coming together for an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear processing facilities. Bush and Blair called for moderates in the Middle East to declare their “open and clear commitment” against extremism. A troop buildup in Iraq, Kuwait and the Gulf of Hormuz is under way to contain any Iranian response.

But there are more signs, the most significant announced today. Israel will release $100 million of frozen tax funds to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Olmert’s spokeswoman Miri Eisin said the Israeli leader agreed to transfer $100 million in frozen tax rebates and other Palestinian funds to Abbas' control, giving the Palestinian leader an important achievement. The Palestinian economy has suffered from the cutoff of funds, along with a Western aid freeze, which began after Hamas took control of the Palestinian government after winning legislative elections early in the year.

Eisin said Israel plans to transfer the money soon, but that it wants to make sure the funds do not reach Hamas, which has refused Western demands to recognize Israel and end violence.

How might the dangling of this carrot impact the official Palestinian response to an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Other hints something major is in the works include Omert’s secret surprise visit to Jordan to visit with King Abdullah. Also, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. quit and a replacement won’t be available until February (likely after the attack).

Israel might have to face conflict with Syria post bombing but that isn’t for certain given President Bush’s strong backing. Just months ago he said an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States.

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