Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Bush on Rantisi
The White House has reacted this way to the assassination attempt against Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, according to Ha'aretz:

U.S. President George W. Bush was "deeply troubled" by an Israeli assassination attempt on a leader of the militant group Hamas and he fears this could undermine Palestinian anti-terror efforts, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday.

"The president is concerned that the strike will undermine efforts by Palestinian authorities and others to bring an end to terrorist attacks and does not contribute to the security of Israel," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.

Two thoughts come to mind: (1) Why didn't the Bush administration apply this logic during the past year and more, after Israel began its systematic campaign of assassinations? After all, virtually everyone recognized that such strikes undermined efforts by the Palestinian authorities to bring about an end to terrorist attacks (and Hamas, according to Israeli chief-of-staff Moshe Yaalon, almost agreed to a ceasefire in 2002, demanding only that the assassinations cease) ; and (2) Bush's reaction seems to confirm the gist of the previous posting that the U.S. may well take a sterner tone with Israel and play down its anti-terrorism rhetoric in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to get the "road map" off the ground.

On another note, if the news is confirmed that Rantisi's son Ahmad was killed in the attack, it would be another case of an Islamist militant losing his son to the Israelis: Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah lost his son, Hadi, in an anti-Israeli operation in southern Lebanon; Abbas Musawi, Nasrallah's predecessor, was killed with his son by an Israeli helicopter in 1992; and now Rantisi ...

Needless to say, other than Musawi of course, a son's "martyrdom" means political capital down the road for the father. Nasrallah famously declared that he was "happy" to have lost his son in an anti-Israeli operation, prompting someone to comment: "What's he like when he's sad?"

PS -- Ahmad al-Rantisi was injured in the attack against his father, so you can ignore part of the previous.

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