Strange Time For War Talk?
It had become the accepted wisdom that Hamas would do whatever it took to derail the upcoming peace talks at Annapolis. This still may be true, though Hamas has not yet done anything "spectacular". Of course it does continue the semi-regular rocket attacks on Sderot and the surrounding areas, and it does continue to arm it militia and police in Gaza.
But now it seems that it may be the Israeli army which is doing whatever it can to derail the Annapolis talks. And of course, army policy cannot be disentangled from the political views and ambitions of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Despite being head of the nominally dovish Labour Party, Barak has been staking out a position as "Mr. Defense", trying to out-flank Prime Minister Olmert - and more importantly opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu - on the right.
In any case, as reported in many places, including the JTA, the Israeli military had been telling anyone who will listen, that it may be "forced" to invade Gaza very soon. (What it plans to do once it captures the territories is completely unclear. Israel was unable to stop terror or rocket attacks when it did occupy Gaza in the past. ) At best the timing, and increasing shrillness of this war talk must raise a eyebrows. At worst, it is a cynical attempt to scuttle whatever slim hope for rapprochement exists at Annapolis.
In any case, keep an eye in the Gaza front if the talks at Annapolis do appear to be making any progress.