Well, President Peres has told the Knesset, which is beginning its winter session, that we will be going to elections. Part of the process down the road will involve dissolving the current Knesset. Several factions are urging that elections proceed as speedily as possible, for the nation’s sake.
Analysts project a two-way contest between Livni and Netanyahu,with Barak of Labor falling so far behind as to be pretty much out of the picture — which is a good place for him.
For the first time, polls have been released that show Livni ahead of Netanyahu by 2 or 3 seats. I figure that this is a result of her claiming the high ground in refusing to cave toShas’s demands. It is not necessarily a stable figure.; there’s no such thing as a stable predictive figure three months before an election. But I guess it won’t be a shoo-in for Netanyahu, which ishow it seemed for some time.
Olmert made a statement to the Knesset in the course of this discussion:”The threats on the security of the people of Israel will not wait for political procedures. [Concern about]terror cannot be postponed because some of us are busy with the election process.”
He’s right. Responses to terror, actions to protect national security, may be necessary between now and the time his successor takes over. But this doesn’t provide him with the latitude to continue negotiations with the PA.
Actually, because of the political uncertainty Abbas has cancelled a meeting with Olmert that had been scheduled. Whether it will be rescheduled is not clear. It shouldn’t be.
The PA is terribly unhappy about the current state of affairs and the likelihood that the Israeli elections will make progress in the “peace” process impossible. What a shame…
What they are most worried about is the possibility that Livni might lose the elections: “If Netanyahu becomes the next prime minister, we will have to declare the peace process dead.”
Fact is, Abbas is about to face enormous political turmoil come January in terms ofhis fight with Hamas regarding when his term ends. He’s in no shape to advance “peace” either.
Yesterday, Home Front Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, addressinga National Security Institute conference, said that Israel faces greater threat of missile attacks down the road. “In the next five years, our enemies may fire 200-300 tons of explosive’s worth in rockets on Israel.”During theSecond Lebanon War the rockets fired at Israel amounted to 30 tons of explosives.
Golan was reassuring, however: “The numbers may seem high but this isn’t a catastrophe in waiting. We are more than capable of handling it.” Let’s pray so, as it’s not simply a matter of more explosives, but also more sophisticated and accurate equipment.
The conference was told that Home Front readiness is being revolutionized.
But I have another thought, another concern: Are we going to sit here and wait for those explosives to start flying — from Hezbollah or from Hamas? Will there be no pre-emptive actions, even though we know full well that arsenals are being strengthened??
Yesterday, Defense Minister Barak complained to the head of UNIFIL regarding the continuing smuggling of arms by Hezbollah over the Syrian border. A whole lot of good this will do.
Declaring that the IDF has been watching the situation closely and has seen the strengthening of Hezbollah (a re-arming that UNIFIL says they see no evidence of), Barak protested that, “The repeated violation of 1701 could lead us to upset of the delicate balance that exists in Lebanon…”I confess: I have no idea what “delicate balance” Barak has in mind. Hezbollah already has the upper hand, as far as I can see.
A US Special Forces operation moved about 4 to 5 miles inside Syria yesterday, as part of an action to secure the Syrian border with Iraq, viawhich about 90% of foreign fighters — as well as cash for Al Qaida and weapons — enter Iraq. Eight people were killed in the helicopter raid, including, according to a US official cited by FoxNews, the main target of the operation, the Al Qaida coordinator of foreign fighters stationed in Syria. Good move.
The Syrians, who have not been particularly cooperative with regard to sealing their border (any more than they seal their border with Lebanon),are decidedly not happy.
This past Shabbat, close to 600 PA special forces troops, US-trained, were deployed in Hevron. This is ostensibly to give the PA a stronger hand in combating Hamas, as Hevron is a Hamas stronghold. But this follows the deployment of PA troops some months earlier, first in Nablus (Shechem) and then in Jenin. And there is great unease in some quarters here in Israel that this is part of a process of turning Judea and Samaria over to PA security, one step at a time, as a prelude to pushing out Jewish settlement.
It remains to be seen how the forces in Hevron will conduct themselves. In Nablus and Jenin it was reported that they helped restore calm on the streets and did things such as arrest car thieves, but did not actively take on Hamas — this was left for the IDF to handle. A first operation of some sort, that rounded up “criminals and Hamas loyalists” is being reported in the media.
For a number of reasons, the beleaguered Jewish community of Hevron fiercely protested this move, which could have been stopped by the IDF. Terrorists have on numerous occasions been incorporated into the PA security forces, and thus there is no reason to trust them. The PA-controlled area around the Jewish area of Hevron includes high points from which it is possible for snipers to shoot at Jews.
This is not idle speculation, as this is what happened in 2001 to 10-month old Shalhevet Pass, who was deliberately shot dead by a sniper standing on a hill near the Avraham Aveinu neighborhood and aiming directly at her head.
What is more, the speculation that the deployment of these forces is a prelude to pushing out Jewish settlement gained considerable traction in the small hours of Sunday morning as Israeli forces (police, army and more) demolished the home of Noam Federman and his family:
The Federman farm is located outside of Kiryat Arba, not far from Hevron. Noam, his wife Elisheva, and their nine children, had lived in a house there for two years. In the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, they were awaked without prior warning and removed forcibly from their house — which was totally demolished with contents inside. The reason given: It was “illegally constructed.”
One is struck by the difference between this action and the deferential treatment afforded by the government to the families of terrorists who are resident in eastern Jerusalem — treatment that makes Israeli officials move only very reluctantly with regard to demolishing their homes. It isJewish Israelis, the “settlers,” the residents of Judea and Samaria, who have become the enemy, the roadblock to official intentions to accommodate the Palestinians.
At the farm, as the home was being demolished, some few of the Jews present (for the word went out and people gathered) made injudicious remarks regarding the IDF. Apologies have since been offered for what was said, but a great deal is being made of this. I would offer here the words of Hevron spokesman David Wilder:
“There is a saying in Hebrew that a person should not be held responsible for his words when his loved ones are still lying dead in front of him. That is how I relate to the…remarks [made]. The expulsion from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria are all still much too fresh and the fate of those expelled still hurting much too much. It is no secret that this administration has plans to implement further expulsions…”
Arutz Sheva reports that the municipality of Kiryat Arba has decided officially to rebuild the home that was demolished on the Federman farm, using city equipment and calling upon Jews across Israel to help. It is felt important that the site not be permitted to remain desolate of a Jewish presence.
The Jews of Judea and Samaria are tired of being the scapegoats and tired of the treatment accorded them, and they are angry. It is my own opinion that their resolve and their courage will be the salvation of our nation.
A stunning analysis of the Obama campaign — “The Obama Temptation” by Mark R. Levin — has come to my attention. Says Levin:
“…I sense what’s occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places…even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical…[people with] significant public policy and real world experiences…find Obama alluring but can’t explain themselves in an intelligent way.
“There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama’s name on it, which adorns everything from Obama’s plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama’s name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.
“Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I’ve never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama’s past influences and radicalism – from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers – have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media’s role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place…
“…my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama’s entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The ‘change’ he peddles is not new. We’ve seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government…
“The question is whether enough Americans understand what’s at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency?…”