MI: Conflict may erupt this summer


Jun. 24, 2007 12:53 | Updated Jun. 25, 2007 3:39

Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, World Jihad, and Syria are all actively working against Israel, and may force a conflict as early as this summer, head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told ministers on Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting.

"Any one of these authorities can bring about a deterioration in the situation this summer," Yadlin said. He added that while none of these actors want to initiate a conflict with Israel in the short-term, a miscalculation by any of them could force a confrontation.

Adding to Yadlin's security assessment, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told ministers that Hamas in Gaza is weighing the option of carrying out a terror attack. He noted, however, that at the present time they are maintaining quiet in order to consolidate their position.

Earlier in the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried to lower expectations of his summit meeting in Sharm e-Sheikh on Monday, tell cabinet ministers that he does not think that the meeting will be a "dramatic turning point."

On Monday Olmert will travel to Sharm e-Sheikh to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

In an effort to boost Abbas, the government decided on Sunday that they would transfer frozen tax revenue that have been held in Israel since Hamas came to power in early 2006. Olmert told the cabinet that the money would be released gradually, and the cabinet resolution on the matter was that it would be dependent on the PA recognizing the three quartet conditions, which are recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

"We are raising at today's Cabinet meeting a proposal to unfreeze funds we have been holding for a long period, Palestinian funds, in order to support in a phased process the new Palestinian government, which is not a Hamas government," Olmert told his ministers.

The cabinet resolution stipulated that the money would be released when a mechanism is set up to ensure that the money does not go to terror purposes. Further, the government resolution noted that Israel would not have any dealings with Hamas, but will continue its humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population in Gaza, including supplying water, electricity, food, medicine, and medical services.

Prior to the decision, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman was expected to be among the minority of ministers to vote against measures to boost Abbas. The new Fatah-led government has "no intention...of arresting a single terror operative," he told Army Radio.

"Why should we believe all these lies? We have years of experience with Abu Mazen," Lieberman said, referring to Abbas. "Other than pronouncements, we haven't seen anything from him."

Speaking over the weekend, Lieberman said: "Even if we give Abbas F-16s he still has no chance to succeed against Hamas. It has already been proven that giving weapons and money to Fatah goes toward strengthening terror and not toward fighting it."

The cabinet will also discuss policy toward the new Palestinian government and ways Israel can strengthen Abbas following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.