In the absence of continuous rocket fire, it should be fairly easy for Prime Minister Olmert’s team to adopt the “three monkey mode” (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) towards large scale Palestinian arms build ups exploiting the ceasefire.
If there is only sporadic rocket fire, Mr. Olmert can be expected to agree to extend the ceasefire to the West Bank (thus enabling the Palestinians to accelerate their rocket program there as well) with an eye towards negotiating more Israeli withdrawals without requiring the Palestinians to ever actually collect weapons.
If the current verbal understanding (it is based in part on what Mr. Olmert claims he heard on the telephone from PA head Mahmoud Abbas) required the collection of weapons there might have been something a third party could readily point to as an indication that the agreement was not being honored: the failure of the PA to show piles of confiscated weapons. But without a requirement to confiscate weapons, it will be next to impossible to demonstrate that the understanding has been violated:
If a reporter manages to photograph a warehouse stocked with rockets, apologists can claim that they were produced before the ceasefire was declared. If he photographs rockets being assembled, they can argue that the components were produced before the ceasefire.
If smugglers are trapped in a collapsed tunnel, they can argue that they were “importing” highly taxed products rather than weapons.
If tons of explosives are photographed next to a smuggling tunnel they can explain that it was smuggled in before the ceasefire.
This evening Israel Television Channel Two military affairs correspondent Ronnie Daniel reported that the IDF is extremely concerned that Hamas, with assistance from Iran, will exploit the ceasefire to build and equip its army in the Gaza Strip and prepare a network of bunkers following the same strategy as in Lebanon. Israel Television Channel One Arab Affairs Correspondent Oded Granot noted that the ceasefire can be expected to last only a limited time as Hamas leader Mashaal says they will launch war against Israel in six months if their demands are not met.
Until that war, Mr. Olmert can hope for improved polls and the opportunity to make Washington-pleasing (and perhaps more importantly, Attorney General Mazuz-pleasing) concessions to the Palestinians as he enjoys a respite from clashes with Defense Minister Peretz who can be expected to focus his efforts during the pre-war “window” on preparing for the fight of his personal political life in the upcoming Labor Party primaries.
And what better way to run in the Labor Party primaries than appearing in photo ops marking various Israeli concessions to the Palestinians?
For more background on the ceasefire and more wild Olmert boasts regarding possible Israeli territorial concessions, click on this IRIS post.