PDA

View Full Version : Does Israeli Intelligence Lie? Is the Pope a Catholic? Yes.



Magda Hassan
01-14-2009, 05:15 AM
All of the suffering in Gaza ó indeed, all of the suffering endured by Palestinians under Israeli occupation for the last eight years ó could have been avoided if Israel negotiated a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat when it had the chance, in 2001.
What chance? The official Israeli position is that there was no chance, "no partner for peace." Thatís what Israeli leaders heard from their Military Intelligence (MI) service in 2000 after the failure of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David. Arafat scuttled those talks, MI told the leaders, because he was planning to set off a new round of violence, a second intifada.
Now former top officials of MI say the whole story, painting Arafat as a terrorist out to destroy Israel, was an intentional fiction. Thatís the most explosive finding in an investigative report (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053882.html) just published in Israelís top newspaper, Haíaretz, by one of its finest journalists, Akiva Eldar.
Tale of Two Tales

Much like our own CIA, Eldarís sources say, Israeli military intelligence has two versions of every story. MI analysts give their findings to government policymakers in oral reports that simply tell the political leaders what they want to hear. Meanwhile, the analysts keep the truth secret, filed away in written documents, waiting to be pulled out to cover MIís posterior if the governmentís policies turned out to be failures.
Much of the information in the Haíaretz report comes from Ephraim Lavie, an honors graduate of Israelís National Security College who rose through the ranks in MI's research section and eventually became head of MI's Palestinian research unit during the era of the Camp David talks. "Defining Arafat and the PA as 'terrorist elements' was the directive of the political echelon," said Lavie. "The unit's written analyses were presenting completely different assessments, based on reliable intelligence material."
The idea that "there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about," simply because Arafat rejected the Israeli offer at Camp David, just wasn't true. But it was what the politicians wanted to hear.
Journalist Eldar found others who had worked inside MI to corroborate Lavieís story. General Gadi Zohar, who once headed the MI terrorism desk, agrees the heads of the MI research unit "developed and advanced the 'no partner' theory and [the notion] that 'Arafat planned and initiated the intifada' even though it was clear at that time that this was not the researchers' reasoned professional opinion."
In fact, these intelligence veterans say, MI concluded after Camp David that Arafat was willing to follow the Oslo process and abide by interim agreements. He wanted to keep the negotiating process alive, and even told his staff to prepare public opinion to accept an agreement that would include compromises. He thought violence would not help his cause. In late September what year?, when violence did erupt in a second intifada, it was purely a popular protest, MI found. Arafat and his advisors never expected it, much less planned it.
They did let the violence go on, to put pressure on the Israelis in future negotiations. But Israeli leaders had already made it clear they would make no more compromises. Thatís exactly why MI invented the story of Arafatís intransigence and commitment to violence; MI was giving the political leaders oral briefings that supported policies the politicians had already agreed on. As Lavie puts it, the MI research unit was an instrument in the politicians' propaganda campaign.
"The conception underneath the 'no partner' approach became a model with grave national implications," Zohar points out. The most serious result, says Lavie, is that Israeli leaders have "ignored the connection between Israel's acts and their implications for the Palestinian arena." Instead, they repeated the old story that Israel is an innocent victim of the Palestinians, who are bent on unprovoked violence.
MI told Israelís leaders the violence was all Arafatís fault, hiding what it knew about broad popular support for acts of resistance. By undermining the power of Arafat, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority, Israeli leaders created a governmental vacuum. They then turned around and said, "See, we have no one to negotiate with, no partner for peace." Instead, Israel responded to the intifada with heightened violence of its own, which of course provoked even more Palestinian popular resistance and even more Israeli suppression. So the vicious cycle of violence kept spiraling ever downward.
Rise of Hamas

The combination of Palestinian political vacuum and Israeli violence also boosted the fortunes of Hamas, another development that MI kept hidden from Israelís political leadership, according to this report. To reinforce the "no partner for peace" story, MI treated Arafat as the only significant political force on the Palestinian side. So it ignored the growing power of Hamas. The MI unit predicted a tie between Hamas and Fatah in the January 2006 Palestinian election, or at most a tiny advantage for Hamas. Hamas, of course, won a major victory in an election outside observers found free and fair.
All of this, say Eldar and his sources, is crucial background for the tragic Israeli relationship with Gaza. The MI oral briefings (to repeat Lavieís crucial words) "ignored the connection between Israel's acts and their implications for the Palestinian arena." So they encouraged Israel's leaders to believe they could separate their own nation from the neighbors they continued to control. In the West Bank they began building a physical wall. In Gaza they withdrew their occupation troops, hoping to leave Gaza to live or die on its own. The leadership simply ignored the possibility that Hamas might be strong enough to gain popular control in Gaza.
The evacuation from Gaza was tied up with a larger strategy, again spurred by telling leaders what they wanted to hear. When the Bush administration endorsed the so-called Road Map for Middle East peace, MI told the Israeli government not to take it seriously; it was just an American public relations gesture to mollify the Arab states. Israeli leaders were unprepared when it turned out that Washington expected Israel to take the road map seriously.
The Israeli prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, then announced his plan to withdraw Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza. He hoped to avoid pressure from Bush to continue negotiations. Sharon's senior advisor, Dov Weissglas, famously said (http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Diplomacy/4222.htm) that "the disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians...This whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely."
Gaza Today

But the message to Hamas was that Israel would act unilaterally, refusing to negotiate with the ascendant Palestinian party. Instead, the Israelis would rely on brute force. Tragically, as the events of the past two weeks have shown, the level of force just goes on escalating. Hamas, like any political party, has both moderate and intransigent wings. Israelís policies have consistently undermined the moderates, who would want to pursue negotiations if they saw any chance. Israel has denied them that chance, leaving violence or surrender as the only options. And Israelís underestimation of the power of Hamas power is still proving a fatal mistake.
But if these new revelations are true, the policy of unilateralism and brute force didn't originate with Sharon and his right-wing Likud Party. It goes back to 2000, when the Labor Party, headed by Ehud Barak, refused to agree with Yasser Arafat that the path of negotiation ó as difficult and tedious as it was ó should be pursued to a successful end. The one attempt to revive the negotiations, at Taaba in early 2001, collapsed when Barak withdrew.
Today Barak, as the Defense Minister in charge of the Gaza attack, sees his once-fading political fortunes rapidly rising again. Most of the Israeli public still believes what MI tells the political leaders in briefings often leaked to the press: Israel is a helpless victim of Palestinian violence, violence that Israeli policies did nothing to provoke. But now it looks like analysts in Israelís own Military Intelligence service have long known how false this story is, according to former top MI officials.
When the story appeared in Haíaretz in early January, it drew a quick rebuttal (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053881.html)from General Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the MI research unit: "MI never adjusted its assessment to what the leadership wanted." Of course if the charges are true, thatís just what would be expected: an official public story at odds with the privately known truth.
On the other hand, itís possible that Eldar has uncovered the trail of an old internal dispute within MI. Speaking of the time when the Camp David talks collapsed and the second intifada began, Kuperwasser says: "I assume that all the assessments about Arafat's behavior in August and September 2000 were written by Lavie. In Central Command, where I was then serving as the intelligence officer, our assessment was that the Palestinians were bent on a confrontation." In other words, the experts in the Palestinian section of MI, headed by Lavie, saw Arafat as a potential partner for peace but their superiors reversed the assessment.
But even if only some key Israeli intelligence officers believed negotiations could yield a positive outcome, that news should be a shocking revelation. Yet in a Google News search a few days after the article appeared, found not a single mention of it anywhere in the worldís news media, and certainly not in the United States, where it matters most. It matters most here because Israel can't continue its military action without at least a tacit green light from Washington. Washington can give that green light only as long as the American public raises no serious objection. The public here isn't likely to object as long as the basic plotline of Middle East news coverage remains the same; namely, that Israel attacked Gaza in self-defense.
Though U.S. news coverage isn't as wholly sympathetic to Israel as it once was, the Israelis still managed to make their version of the story central to mainstream media coverage. Millions of Americans who know nothing else about the still ongoing conflict believe that the Israelis are "retaliating against Hamas rockets." What if those millions also knew the Israeli government ignores its own intelligence experts when they say Palestinian leaders are willing to make peace? That might change the entire picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict ó and push Americans to push their government to push Israel to negotiate in good faith a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Ira Chernus is professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, author of Monsters to Destroy (http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=143468), and a Foreign Policy In Focus (http://www.fpif.org/) contributor.
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5783
************************************************** ************************************************** *********
Military Intelligence: Never expected Hamas victory in 2006 http://wa-be1.www.haaretz.com/hasen/images/0.gif By Akiva Eldar (eldar@haaretz.co.il) http://wa-be1.www.haaretz.com/hasen/images/0.gif T
On Monday, February 9, 2004, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee waited tensely for an analysis by the director of Military Intelligence (DMI), Major General Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash. The surprising plan put forward by the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to pull the Israeli army out of Gaza and evacuate all the settlers, had stirred a furor among the Knesset and the Israeli public. The Prime Minister's Bureau was well aware that Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon had called the plan a "prize for terrorism" in internal discussions. Sharon's staff hoped that the DMI, who is responsible for Israel's national-security evaluation, would be noncommittal in his assessment of the plan.

Ze'evi-Farkash did his best: "A unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip will be construed by the Palestinians as surrender to terrorism," he said. "That is liable to be a catalyst for intensified terrorist attacks." He later added, "The evacuation [of the Israelis from] the Gaza Strip may actually restrain terrorism."

Right-wing MKs immediately passed on what the DMI had said to reporters, emphasizing the first part of his analysis, of course. The next day's papers noted that the senior officer's remarks "had heightened the tension between the Prime Minister's Bureau and the defense establishment."
On Tuesday, April 20, Ze'evi-Farkash again appeared before the committee. This time he was more optimistic about the withdrawal. "There is a high probability that terrorism in the Gaza Strip will decrease," he said, adding that in the West Bank, in contrast, the motivation to perpetrate terrorist attacks would grow.

A PowerPoint presentation prepared by the Intelligence Branch entitled "Fashioning a Convenient Long-term Political, Security and Economic Reality for Israel" lauded the advantages of disengagement and downplayed the attendant risks. The presentation predicted that the disengagement would destroy the purveyors of terrorism and weaken the support of external elements, such as Hezbollah, for their Hamas brethren.

In September the DMI was more unequivocal. "I think that after the disengagement the trend in Gaza will be to restrain terrorism," he told the daily Ma'ariv in a Rosh Hashana interview. "Similarly, those acting against us will want to show that they are not operating from areas Israel has already left and therefore will move their major activity to Judea and Samaria in order to bring about a withdrawal there, too, by means of the same terrorism..." And to ensure that his words would not be construed to mean that he agreed with the evaluation that withdrawing from Gaza under terrorism would encourage "the elements" - meaning Hamas - to continue their terrorist activity, the DMI concluded the sentence with the words "in their opinion."

At the end of the year, Military Intelligence invited Dr. Matti Steinberg, a former Shin Bet security service adviser on Palestinian affairs, for a meeting as the MI prepared its annual situation appraisal.

"I tried to take advantage of the meeting to talk about the danger of ignoring the negative implications of the disengagement," Steinberg says. "I warned that a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would weaken Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and strengthen Hamas."

Steinberg's impression was that the officers were inattentive to assessments that were not consistent with the upbeat analysis MI had presented to the political echelon. Ze'evi-Farkash and the head of the research unit in MI, Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, removed the subject from the agenda. The intelligence appraisal for 2005 stated: "Completing the evacuation will afford Hamas a significant achievement in the short term, but in the long term will increase the pressure on the organization to restrain terrorism and enable security calm in the Gaza Strip, and also to become part of the government, while the legitimization of terrorism from Gaza erodes."

A document entitled "Army and Society in the Limited Conflict," drawn up by the Israel Defense Forces in 2005 in conjunction with the Israel Democracy Institute, states: "Whereas the hope of the political echelon was that the disengagement would allow Israel to 'buy time' for a more pragmatic Palestinian leadership to emerge, the military echelon tended to prefer a withdrawal under an agreement, due to security and other considerations. For example, the withdrawal was liable to be construed as a prize for terrorism."

One of the authors of the document was Zionit Kuperwasser, from the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the spouse of the head of research in MI, the unit that had backtracked from the assessment that a withdrawal without an agreement would be "a catalyst to intensify terrorist attacks."

In September 2007, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was an ardent advocate of the unilateral disengagement, took part in the UN General Assembly opening session in New York. By then Hamas was in full control of the Gaza Strip and its depots were filled with hundreds of rockets and missiles. In an interview with television journalist Charlie Rose, Livni explained that Israel and the Palestinian Authority were making an effort to reach a peace agreement, as "we cannot just throw the key to the other side of the border and hope for good"; and to dispel any possible doubt about what she was referring to, she added, "look at the situation in the Gaza Strip."

Mistaken conception

There is no way of knowing what would have happened if intelligence had warned the government and the Knesset about the implications of throwing Gaza's key to Hamas. Would Livni, Ehud Olmert and Haim Ramon, who pushed hard for disengagement, have taken to heart a warning that the Gaza Strip would become a Muslim Brotherhood state? And if so, would they have been able to dissuade Ariel Sharon, who was determined to leave Gaza without an agreement?

Be that as it may, the hard question remains: Why did MI not tell the government and the Knesset loudly and clearly that the disengagement might well pave Hamas' road to power and to control over Gaza? Was this a professional glitch, or a case of tailoring assessments to fit politics?

MI's credibility and reliability in the critical years between the 2000 intifada and the 2005 disengagement continue to trouble Colonel (res.) Ephraim Lavie. Since his 2002 retirement from the Palestinian section of MI's research unit, a section he headed for four years, the reticent Middle East expert, who is now the director of the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, has been knocking on every possible door. He is demanding a thorough investigation of how the Palestinian sector intelligence assessment was presented to the decision makers and the public.

Lavie had a rich career in the intelligence unit 8200, as Arab affairs adviser to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and in MI's research unit. In 1997 he graduated cum laude from the National Security College. After leaving the IDF he entered academia and recently completed a doctoral thesis on Palestinian society. In an April 2004 letter to Ze'evi-Farkash, Lavie wrote: "The conception underneath the 'no partner' approach became a model with grave national implications. Its consequences are manifested in the unilateral disengagement plan for Gaza and in the construction of the separation fence in Judea and Samaria." Lavie added that he had discovered, from conversations with former Shin Bet and Mossad espionage agency personnel, that their organizations had also seen the same disparity between oral and written doctrine, which had helped deepen the mistaken conception.

In response to a previous letter on the same subject, Ze'evi-Farkash wrote to Lavie that he felt "a sense of missed opportunity on your part for not having expressed these views when you felt the disparities were coming into being." He added: "There is no need for us to examine the validity of your viewpoint. We believe you wrote from a subjective viewpoint, it is true, but with sincerity and clarity, and this is indeed your perception of the developments." Ze'evi-Farkash suggested to Lavie that he approach the "relevant parties," namely his predecessor as DMI, Amos Malka, and the former head of the MI research unit, Amos Gilad.

It was not until 2008 that the internal investigation was conducted, under the tutelage of the current DMI, Major General Amos Yadlin. Its findings, which are being publicized here for the first time, are that MI suffers from knowledge gaps, a dearth of resources and a lack of group thinking, and that it speaks in two voices. The written voice is intended for internal control and potential commissions of inquiry; the oral voice, which is not documented, is for the senior political level. The report found that as long as the political echelon rejected the idea of a unilateral disengagement because it would be "withdrawal under fire," MI's research unit produced papers in a similar vein. However, when the political level decided to go ahead with the disengagement, the research unit wrote: "A unilateral disengagement will pose a challenge to Hamas and place a wall in front of [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat."

Lavie described the "two voices" syndrome in a November 2003 letter to the DMI, headlined "Failures in the Work of Intelligence Regarding the Palestinian Issue." The "oral doctrine" is documented in the minutes of General Staff and cabinet meetings where senior MI officers gave briefings. In these closed forums (though much of the content finds its way into the media) MI officers provide assessments that are close to the leaders' views but often deviate from internal written assessments.

"This situation leaves the researchers with the very unpleasant feeling that the written assessments lack all influence and are meant mainly for [possible future] commissions of inquiry. The result is that the expensive work of collecting material and the professional analyses by dozens of officers and noncoms go down the tubes," Lavie wrote.

According to Lavie, the voices diverged even farther during the run-up to the disengagement. "This is both a substantive and an ethical problem," he says. "It allows the DMI and the head of the research unit to say 'We told you so' and to 'cover themselves' no matter what direction reality takes: the direction indicated in the unit's written work, or the direction presented to the leadership. The result, as indeed occurred, is that the entire system is liable to be tilted toward a mistaken conception that carries a very steep price for the nation."

The internal investigation found that, regardless of its position on the implications of the disengagement, all the papers produced by the MI research unit predicted a tie between Hamas and Fatah in the January 2006 Palestinian Authority election, or at most a tiny advantage for Hamas. In November 2005, two months before the election, the research unit wrote that the opening of the Rafah crossing and the Fatah primary had improved that faction's situation. A month later, the unit was a bit more cautious, taking note of "an atmosphere of uncertainty and high volatility." It warned that the feeling of despair was causing Mahmoud Abbas to contemplate retiring from politics.

Along with unsubtle hints about the politicization of Military Intelligence, the internal investigation indicates the existence of a series of structural and professional problems, which were instrumental in MI's failure to produce correct assessments of the Palestinian sector in general and Hamas in particular. These included a shortage of experienced Arabic-speaking researchers and insufficient use of materials provided by the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and academic experts. Young researchers tend to focus on specific events and have difficulty identifying long-term social and political processes such as Islamization and the rise of Hamas.

Self-fulfilling analysis

Another internal report, drawn up by MI in February 2006, noted that the research unit had been two years late in noticing that Hamas might become an alternative to the Palestinian Authority and had failed to discern the political implications of this organization's rise to power and political ambitions. This report stated that the tardiness was due to the perception of Arafat as the be-all and end-all.

MI did not only assist the political echelon by disseminating optimistic forecasts about the likely aftermath of a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, the status of Hamas and the danger of rocket fire. The research unit also described the famous letter sent to Prime Minister Sharon by U.S. President George W. Bush on April 14, 2004, which was intended to present a certain quid pro quo for the Gaza withdrawal, as a "historic and precedent-setting declaration by President Bush ... a substantive change in the position of the United States regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

However, the control department of MI, seeking to tone down the enthusiasm, argued, "the declaration is no more than a collection of trivial statements." Indeed, in a counter-document, the department stated that the final outcome would be the opposite of what the political echelon anticipated, as the Palestinians would view the disengagement declaration as a commitment that they would get territories without having to give anything in return.

Dr. Steinberg said MI also ignored his analysis, which stated explicitly that the Bush letter did not represent any sort of achievement for Israel and that its only "contribution" was to intensify the feeling of the Palestinians that the United States was ignoring them.

The internal investigation shows that MI also failed in evaluating the road map in 2003. The research unit persuaded the DMI to convey a message of reassurance to the political echelon, the gist of which was that the road map was only a tactical move by Bush, intended to muster Arab support for the war in Iraq, and that after the war everyone would forget about it. When it turned out that Washington expected Israel to take the road map seriously, Sharon adopted the disengagement idea, in order to avoid a confrontation with Bush.

According to Lavie, the conception that left room solely for unilateral moves and a policy of brute force did not originate with Sharon. Since the failure of the Camp David summit in July 2000, when Ehud Barak adopted the "no partner" theory, the research unit, then under Amos Gilad, supported describing Israel's response to the intifada as a "war of no choice," a war preplanned by Arafat for ideological reasons.

Kuperwasser, in an article for the online bulletin of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, reiterates this approach, citing military moves by the PA and militant declarations by Arafat and Fatah leaders. In response to allegations of bias in the research unit's assessments, Kuperwasser claimed that if the written and oral versions were in fact incompatible, this was not a deliberate failure "but obviously reflects an administrative problem that needs to be addressed."

The 2008 internal investigation contradicts this view. On August 29, 2000, shortly after the Camp David summit, the research unit stated in its situation appraisal that Arafat continued to prefer the negotiations as the way to advance his strategic goals, and he was convinced that violence would not help his cause at that stage. On August 30 the unit advised that Arafat was restraining the crisis and continued to adhere to the Oslo process. In an unprecedented step he also issued instructions to prepare public opinion to accept an agreement that would include compromises. On September 19 the MI suggested that in the coming period the Palestinians would not try to challenge bluntly the validity of the interim agreements, as they wished to play out the negotiations.

On September 27, 2000, when Prime Minister Barak allowed Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, the research unit urgently submitted an "intelligence compendium" in which it warned that in light of the religious and political sensitivity of the site, "violent confrontations are liable to develop with our forces." Three days later the intelligence researchers stated: "Arafat is not interested in an all-out confrontation, which is liable to pull the ground from under him." A 2004 investigation of "Ebb and Tide" (the official name for the operation to quell the second intifada), conducted by MI's Palestinian desk, found unequivocally that the second intifada erupted as a "popular protest" because people wanted to let off steam and vent the anger that accumulated due to the failure of negotiations and the inability to extract political achievements from Israel. Arafat encouraged the popular activity in order to extricate himself from his plight after he rejected the Israeli offers at Camp David, and to compel Israel to walk an extra mile by demonstrating the price it would have to pay, or alternatively, to create chaos that would take the conflict to an internationalization.

Ami Ayalon, who headed the Shin Bet until April 2000, confirms there was no intelligence document asserting that Arafat planned the intifada. "On the contrary," Ayalon says, "I know that documents that were seized in Operation Defensive Shield [in 2002] and analyzed by the research department of the Shin Bet prove that the intifada took even senior Fatah leaders by surprise, including Marwan Barghouti and Kadura Fares, who were very close to Arafat. It was only a few days after it erupted that they met to examine how it could be exploited for political purposes."

What Ayalon says is consistent with public statements made by his successors at the Shin Bet. Both Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin have stated that the intifada was a grass-roots uprising and was not planned from above. Brigadier General (res.) Yossi Ben Ari, who was then the head of the Palestinian desk at the Mossad, also supported this view.

In a November 2003 document, Lavie wrote: "In General Staff think-team discussions, headed by the chief of the strategic division and with senior representatives of General Staff bodies, it was understood that defining Arafat and the PA as 'terrorist elements' was the directive of the political echelon, even if it did not declare this explicitly and did dictate this to the army."

He emphasized that while any government policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians was legitimate, the research unit's oral backing for government policy was faulty both professionally and ethically, and noted that the unit's written analyses were presenting completely different assessments, based on reliable intelligence material. Lavie described this as "biasing intelligence research and adjusting it for the leadership." No less.

Self-justifying evaluations

In an article he published in the Intelligence Center bulletin, Lavie wrote that the assessment that "there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about" was mistaken. The criterion for that assessment, he found, was the Palestinians' rejection of the Israeli approach to negotiations. When Israel resorted to force due to this assessment, Lavie says, it annulled every distinction between Hamas and Fatah and created a governmental void that ultimately corroborated the assessment. Instead of presenting and evaluating the adversary's capabilities and intentions, he wrote, in order to provide the policymakers with optimal tools to make decisions, the MI research unit became an instrument in the politicians' propaganda campaign.

Lavie maintains that MI did not analyze the implications of how the IDF suppressed the intifada. It did not warn against turning the PA into an empty vessel, or against creating a governmental vacuum that could be filled by terrorist elements and foreign parties such as Iran and Hezbollah. Nor did it warn about the population's support for continuing the struggle.

Moreover, the reality that took shape in the territories due to the mistaken evaluation and the military policy ostensibly justified the evaluation, thus paving the way for more of the same policy, which ultimately caused immense strategic damage.

According to Lavie, intelligence's main failure in this regard is that since Camp David, MI has ignored the connection between Israel's acts and their implications for the Palestinian arena. The "no partner" approach, the fact that no distinction was made between terrorist elements and the general population, the destruction of the Palestinians' center of government in Operation Defensive Shield and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza - all these developments contributed directly to strengthening Hamas, to its election victory and takeover of the Gaza Strip, and the fading opportunity for two states for two peoples.

In an article in a new Intelligence Center book marking 60 years of Israeli intelligence, Brigadier General (res.) Gadi Zohar also takes note of the serious defects in MI's evaluations of the Palestinian arena. Zohar, who was head of the MI terrorism desk from 1985 to 1987, and headed the West Bank Civil Administration at the beginning of the 1990s, writes: "In the second intifada, which erupted in the wake of the failure of Camp David and Taba [the January 2001 summit], military intelligence played an active role aimed at helping the military echelon and the state leadership realize a policy irrespective of professional research bodies' evaluation."

Zohar, too, believes that the heads of the research unit "developed and advanced the 'no partner' theory and [the notion] that 'Arafat planned and initiated the intifada' even though it was clear at that time that this was not the researchers' reasoned professional opinion." He accuses the politicians of sending those in uniform to back their policy positions, and intelligence research of meeting the challenge. "There is no other subject that suffered over the years like the Palestinian arena, due to the tension between public opinion and the political leadership, and the duty of intelligence personnel to provide unembellished objective intelligence."

More than 35 years after the Yom Kippur War, the military and political conceptions continue to feed off each other, and Israelis and Arabs continue to kill each other. W
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053882.html