Sunday, March 12, 2006

Israeli news round-up, March 12, 2006

Some interesting stories your humble Friar is following:

  • An Israeli Army radio poll has shown a slight drop in the Kadima party's electoral prospects. Kadima is presently expected to receive 37 seats, with Labor and Likud trailing with 18 and 16, and Shas & Yisrael Beteinu tied with 10 each. Of course, anyone who's been paying attention lately knows how reliable the Israeli polls are.
On a related note, the Jerusalem Post had an interesting interview with Yossi Beilin two weeks ago in which he called Kadima a one-term party (which seems fairly likely), Abbas a potential Israeli "Shabbos Goy" go-between (a crude if accurate term), and argued that Sharon's legacy was in facing up to the reality that the "do nothing" approach to the territories was a lost cause.

"Sharon reached the conclusion that we have to do something to guarantee a Jewish state...He concluded that we had to relinquish Gaza and intimated that he was ready to relinquish land in the West Bank. The real argument today [on the Israeli side] is between unilateralism and an agreement.

..The Right [against giving up land] is only the Likud and the National Union - it doesn't include Israel Beiteinu and it doesn't include Shas. It says that we have to stay where we are [in the territories] until there is a Palestinian partner prepared to accept our conditions. It's a tiny minority in the parliament. On the other hand, you have Kadima, Labor, Meretz, the Arab parties, Shas, Aguda and Israel Beiteinu which say: divide the land. Shas stresses an agreement. Israel Beiteinu stresses the absence of an agreement. Labor prefers an agreement. We [Yahad] are the agreement party. And Kadima, as in everything, is cagey. Now, if the choice is between relinquishing additional territory and leaving it to Hamas, or making a supreme effort to reach an agreement, it seems to me that the imperative to seek an agreement is strong."

So, according to Beilin at least (who doesn't have a particularly good track record either), this Knesset is theoretically one of the best-situated to reach an agreement. If a bipartisan accord can be reached, the vast majority of the Knesset should wind up supporting it.

Of course, that assumes that Olmert will actually have this on top of his agenda, that Abbas will be an effective middle-man, and that Hamas and the IDF won't sabotage the whole damn thing in the first place.

  • Peretz has said that he will refuse to participate in any govt. coalition with Yisrael Beteinu, because Avigdor Leiberman has, and continues to support, annexing Israeli Arab areas to a future Palestinian state. There has been some talk of Kadima and Y.B. joining forces after the election, along with several other parties. Both Olmert and Leiberman have discussed the possibility of further unilateral withdrawls, something that quite a few other political parties (such as Shas, for one) are emphatically opposed to. After seeing how Gaza's turning out, I can't say I necessarily disagree. At his talk, Peretz criticized the "unilateralism first" approach, and used the opportunity to get some jabs in at Olmert, in an interesting twist.
I can't say I think this is a particularly smart move. Then again, I'm not a politician for a reason. This could all be mere political posturing for votes. There's probably elements of truth in what everyone's throwing out, but then again, Sharon showed us that at the end of the day, politicians, particularly in a place like Israel, ultimately do what they want and think is right, not necessarily what they campaigned on.

  • In the corruption-arena, former Knesset speaker and Labor MK Avraham Burg is being investigated by police. From Haaretz: "Burg and his associates wished to acquire 51 percent of the holdings in the Ashot Ashkelon factory with monies lent by businessmen who were previously disqualified from purchasing holdings in the factory themselves." Sounds vague and mysterious. Will keep an eye out.
More to come as the news develops and I have free time.

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