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Copyright 2003 Haaretz
September 26

HEADLINE: Black Box / Leave it to Sheikh Nasrallah

BYLINE: Benny Ziffer

In a quasi-tired voice, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz replied on Tuesday ("Six O'Clock with Gabi Gazit," Channel 2, 6 P.M.) to reporters' questions about progress in the negotiations to bring back the Israeli prisoners being held by Hezbollah and Hezbollah's demand that Israel release Palestinian prisoners as part of the exchange. "Today ... ah," Mofaz said, drawling the "ah," "it seems from the statements by [Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah. ..." Then he emitted another "ah" before uttering the words, "Israeliprison." And afterward, without an "ah," but in a tone of deep melancholy: "We have no intention of releasing [Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan] Barghouti."

We have no intention, but maybe in the future we will have an intention. And between Mofaz's one "ah"and the next, I saw in my mind's eye the following scene: Mofaz, with the tormented face, announces in a meeting of the security cabinet that because it's impossible to trust Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, the only person we can still trust to fight against us in the region is Nasrallah. In my mind's eye I also see hugs and kisses because in their hearts, the security people like those who most defy them to fight. If it weren't for Nasrallah, we would run out of enemies, and then what will become of all the security people?

In other words, if Nasrallah didn't exist we would have to invent him. If only - and this is the main thing - to extricate us from the mire that we found we were plunged into when we arrested Barghouti. Mofaz's "ah" thus expressed above all thanks to Allah, for at last getting it into Nasrallah's head to ask for ah-Barghouti's release from his ah-Israeli ah-prison.

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