We’re not home free, on any score. But this is how matters stand on some major issues as I return to my computer:
It appears that President Peres indeed will select Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu to form the new government. At this point, the entire right wing bloc (totaling 65 mandates) has chosen him.
This now includes Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu, who had held out to the last minute. Likud has been more than a little put out by Lieberman because of excessive demands. In the end, Lieberman’s ability to make those demands was diminished by the fact that it had become clear that there was no way that Livni could form a coalition, as 77 MKs have indicated they wouldn’t support Livni. I.e., some not for Netanyahu specifically — the Arabs parties, Labor and Meretz — were also saying they wouldn’t join a Kadima-headed coalition either and were opting to be in the opposition no matter what).
Likud did agree in the end to several Lieberman stipulations, such as seeking ways for those who are not halachically Jewish to have civil marriage, toppling Hamas, and reforming the electoral system. But I have not seen anything that stipulates what ministries would go to Yisrael Beitenu — if that has been agreed upon at all.
Lieberman has indicated he would like to see a broader-based unity government, and reports are that Peres will be calling in Netanyahu and Livni, perhaps even tomorrow, to discuss this. But Livni is adamant that she will not sit in an “right wing extremist” government.
Allow me to define “right wing extremist”: A government that doesn’t want to give away our country.
Said Livni: “We need to provide an alternative of hope from the opposition. Kadima will continue to fight for its beliefs and its path – an agenda based on two states for two peoples.”
If I should live to be 120, I would never understand this thinking, because it’s so very clear to all those who will open their eyes that there is no partner on the other side. How Kadima members imagine they might pursue this effectively is a mystery.
But sometimes, people on the left actually do wake up, at least a little. Yesterday, at a gathering here in Jerusalem of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, President Shimon Peres said:
“What will happen in the future, we shall not repeat the wrongs we did in leaving Gaza. It should have been done otherwise. I was for leaving Gaza. I feel myself as one of the persons mistaken.”
Will wonders never cease?
The matters of seeking the release of Gilad Shalit and negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas have taken some interesting turns.
The Security Cabinet yesterday voted to keep crossings into Gaza closed, except for humanitarian supplies, until Shalit is returned. And, what is more, the decision was made not to enter into a formal ceasefire with Hamas.
According to one official source cited by the Post, “Israel is not interested in any deal with Hamas above and beyond getting Shalit…If there is quiet, we will respond with quiet. But if Hamas acts to destroy the quiet, if it shoots rockets at Israel, or engages in arms smuggling, or in any other aggression, we reserve the right to respond.”
I only wonder why all of this wasn’t stipulated at the start. In many respects this is excellent. We should not be in a position of being restrained by an agreement in terms of how we respond to Hamas.
There is a note of great concern, however. And that is the sort of deal that would be made for Shalit — with the projected release of terrorists responsible for many Jewish deaths, terrorists who should never, ever again be free.
With regard to this, please read “An open letter to the prime minister,” by Rabbi Stuart Weiss, who lost his son Ari, a member of Sayeret Nahal anti-terrorist unit, in a battle against Hamas in 2002.
“…But now we are on the brink of what I fear will be a catastrophic moment in Israeli – and Jewish – history. The freeing of hundreds of terrorist murderers – in particular, the two Barghouti butchers who, between them, murdered hundreds of pure Jewish souls and perpetrated the terror massacres at Sbarro, Moment Cafe and the Park Hotel – will be a terrible blow to law and order in Israel, setting a precedent that will certainly result in many, many more tragedies.
“WE APPRECIATE the pressure on you to free Gilad Shalit. It must be enormous. But know that there is another side to this issue, as well.
“That is the deep feelings of thousands of Israeli family members who paid the ultimate price to the state, who gave up their loved ones in the course of our struggle. To free these Palestinian murderers with so much of our blood on their hands would do more than just insult and demoralize the bereaved families; it would destroy us, and cause us to lose all faith in our country and its leaders.
“Everyone – including the Shalit family – agrees that there are prices too high to pay to secure Gilad’s release…Setting hundreds of bloodthirsty killers loose on the Israeli public – where they, without a shadow of a doubt, will kill time and time again – is…a price far too high to pay.
“…We already have one yahrtzeit for Ari. Please, we implore you, do not bring another one upon us.”
The decisions described above are causing a bit of commotion. Egypt officials have their noses very much out of joint, as they wanted to successfully conclude cease-fire negotiations. And, amazingly, Amos Gilad, of the Defense Department, who was doing the negotiations with the Egyptians on behalf of Barak, has taken Egypt’s side: “I don’t understand what they are trying to do. Insult the Egyptians?
Some harsh words ensued between Olmert and Gilad, because of Gilad’s public criticism of the government’s position.
There are rumors (stomach-turning rumors that I pray are wrong, but are cited by Khaled Abu Toameh) that we may release Marwan Barghouti as a “gesture” to Abbas, instead of as part of a deal with Hamas to secure Shalit. Remember, Abbas was worried that if Hamas was able to bring Barghouti out of prison, when Fatah never could, it would diminish Fatah.
How crazy can things get?
The point here is that Barghouti should never be released to anyone. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about how his release affects one faction or another.
Just days ago I wrote about the naiveté of Obama in thinking a US delegation, by participating in the plans for Durban 2, can change matters. Anne Bayefsky has now written a major piece on this for National Review, called, “Obama Naiveté at the U.N.” It is dated February 16.
“In a major foreign-policy decision taken over the weekend, President Obama has decided to legitimize the United Nations’s ‘anti-racism’ forum known as Durban II. State Department officials announced in a press release buried on Saturday, that starting today the United States will attend for the first time the preparatory meetings of this controversial U.N. conference…
“The searing images of the demonization of America and Jews on the U.N.’s global stage…should have made joining this revived forum for U.N.-driven hate inconceivable. But President Obama seems intent on learning the lessons of history — and the relationship between hatemongering and violence — the hard way.
“The State Department announcement claims that participating in Durban II preparations still leaves open the possibility of refusing to attend the April conference itself. The claim is completely disingenuous… It is the decision to attend at all which represents a huge shift in American principles and priorities. For the past seven and a half years, the United States has boycotted Durban follow-up activities and voted against every Durban-related U.N. resolution.
“Moreover, the very objective of Durban II is ‘to foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action.’ This is non-negotiable and cannot be changed by U.S. participation, period. In addition, all U.N. states attending these preparatory sessions have already agreed to ‘reaffirm the Durban Declaration.’ Since the U.S. walked out of Durban I in disgust (along with Israel) and rejected the Durban I Declaration, joining negotiations now means agreeing to its provisions for the first time.
“…In truth, this Obama trip to the U.N. represents an abandonment of Israel. All his campaign promises to the contrary, sacrificing Israel for the sake of currying favor with others — demagogues included — is clearly at the top of the new president’s agenda. Israel asked Obama not to attend. Canada also pulled out of Durban II and expected American support. Instead, today’s American foreign policy leaves America’s closest ally and its biggest trading partner out in the cold.
“The speed at which President Obama is selling off American assets is breathtaking. The speed at which he is selling them out is even faster.”
Read the entire alarming piece, please. If you still think what Obama is doing is OK, think again! And if you’re alarmed, start screaming loud and long, before it is truly too late for America.