It feels as if the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Barak seems to have forgotten that he once said he wouldn’t want to trust Livni “when a call comes in at 3 AM.” Can’t say what she has promised him, but he apparently has found it enticing. For he has now announced his readiness to join a coalition with Kadima.
It’s “a shame,” he laments, that Netanyahu won’t join in an emergency government.
For his part, opposition leader and head of Likud Binyamin Netanyahu is having no part of this government. At a press conference yesterday he explained his position:
“We are not joining the failure. We are the alternative to the failure.
“What we need is a change of policy, not more of the same failed policy. This is why this government should be replaced.
“After a dramatic development such as the resignation of a prime minister, only one thing should happen, and that is going to general elections.
“It is unprecedented that a small group of Kadima members should determine who Israel’s prime minister is. The decision must be given to the people. Setting a date for general elections is the responsible, the decent and the democratic thing to do. The nation should decide who leads it, and in which direction.”
Amen to this.
Right now, Livni is waiting on Shas to decide; that decision might make or break the chances for a solid, stable coalition. Reports have it that there is a split within Shas on whether to join the coalition, with Shas faction head Yeshai opposed and second in command, Ariel Atias, inclined to go along (or “give Livni a chance”).
Once again: the Shas stipulations are an increase in child allowances (the first priority), and a promise that there will be no negotiations on Jerusalem — not just now but in the future, something Livni cannot really promise in good faith.
All bets are off, as it’s anyone’s guess how much Livni can concede and how much Shas will compromise.
Ideologically, Shas would be much more at home with Likud than with Kadima. Netanyahu has urged the party not to join with Kadima.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved Shmuel Mofaz, who said he was taking a break from politics, has now announced that he’s had enough vacation: He’s returning to business as usual after Rosh Hashana, on October 2. I cannot say precisely what enticed him, but something did.
And Livni? She has declared that even with coalition meetings she will take the time to continue as chief negotiator in meetings with Ahmed Qurei of the PA, and indeed met with him yesterday.
There are several reasons why she shouldn’t be doing this.
The very first is that, now that Olmert has resigned, she represents a transitional government. Such a government, according to Attorney-General Mazuz, is supposed to serve caretaker functions only, not make major decisions that are not urgent.
This government has no business continuing negotiations at this point. The question (and this has been posed by Aaron Lerner of IMRA) is when Mazuz will weigh in on this.
But there is another reason why negotiations should be shut down forthwith:
We are being threatened.
Qurei waxed enthusiastic about Livni’s presumed primary victory, and expressed confidence that she would continue working with him productively to advance negotiations.
But just hours after meeting with her, he declared:
“The Palestinians will continue to negotiate. But, if the talks reach a dead end, what do we do? Capitulate? Resistance in all its forms is a legitimate right.”
Please be very clear: “Resistance” is a code for terrorism, including suicide bombings. When asked very specifically if this is what he was referring to, he said, “All forms of resistance.”
This is the Palestinian style — it’s what Dennis Ross referred to, years ago with regard to Arafat, as “the terrorist card.” They always hold it close to their chests and bring it out when it suits them; it’s their default position. But people who do this are not legitimate peace partners.
There is no “right” to commit terrorist acts. Not ever.
According to Israel Radio, Haim Ramon stated yesterday at a lecture in Tel Aviv that the Palestinians representing the PA at the last minute got “cold feet” and decided not to sign a declaration of principles that would have outlined progress made in the negotiations.
They will always “get cold feet.”
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council, has just delivered a paper to a conference for the National Institute for Near East Policy, in which he says that the current formulation of the two-state solution is untenable:
Simply put (and you’ve certainly heard it here), he says that the maximum that Israel is politically able to give is less than the Palestinians are politically able to accept.
Right now the PA is gearing up to defend itself in the event that Hamas attacks Ramallah. Is Abbas about to go on record as having conceded anything?
The Palestinian news agency Maan has reported that yesterday’s terrorist, who ran down Israelis at Kikar Tzahal, is a member of Hamas.
Our security people are indicating that there is an increase in Hamas influence in eastern Jerusalem and that this is, indeed, generating more terrorism.
Areas of the city that are particularly problematic are the neighborhoods of Sur Bahir, Jebl Mukaber (where yesterday’s terrorist came from), and Issawiya, and the Shuafat refugee camp — all historically associated with a high level of terrorism.
The Shin Bet is calling for increased patrols by border police in these places, and for increased action against families of terrorists — not just demolition of their homes, but also canceling state insurance payments.
According to the police, since the beginning of 2008, 250 Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem have been arrested for terror-related offenses, a very significant increase over last year.
Just this afternoon, four Palestinians were arrested for trying to run over IDF soldiers in Ma’ale Levona, near Ramallah, using two cars and a bulldozer. They were stopped before they injured anyone, and arrested.
Also today, it was announced that the Shin Bet and police have arrested seven members of a terror cell in eastern Jerusalem that is alleged to have been involved with two shootings in which police officers were killed and others wounded. Additionally, it is said that they were planning to assassinate a police officer in the Old City, initiatie a terror attack at a bus stop in French Hill, and carry out the kidnapping of security officials.
After yesterday’s terror attack, Olmert stated that the only way this can be avoided in the future is if the city is divided: “there is no…way to prevent this…unless at the end of the day you say to the Arabs in the Arab neighborhoods, you will live in your neighborhoods, and won’t come into ours.” What he’s talking about is giving the Jerusalem neighborhoods that are Arab to the PA.
Allow me to explain why it won’t work:
1) Anyone who knows Jerusalem neighborhoods — and presumably Olmert, as former mayor of Jerusalem, does — knows that the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are incredibly intertwined. It’s not a question of drawing a straight line, with Arabs on one side and Jews on the other. What Olmert proposes is simply logistically impossible.
2) Having access to intelligence in these areas and being able to do patrols is important. Once the areas were in PA hands, we would lose the ability to do these things and Hamas influence would grow even greater, with more terrorism following. Even if there were a fence separating Jewish and Arab neighborhoods — a nightmare and a logistical impossibility — there would be porosity with terrorists getting across and having the ability, I should add, to shoot rockets over fences.
This is exactly the wrong attitude and has gotten us in the trouble we find ourselves in today on our western flank, certainly. Having trouble with terrorists? Let’s not cope with getting rid of them, let’s withdraw to a smaller area and leave them to their devious devices.
3) The PA will never, ever consent to just taking problematic neighborhoods in Jerusalem. If there is to be a deal, they want ALL of eastern Jerusalem, which means Jewish neighborhoods such as French Hill, Ramat Eshkol and Gilo, and, most significantly, the Old City, including our holiest sites.
I believe this is something worth a note of attention:
Lt. Elad Amar, the young officer who shot the terrorist yesterday, is a product of dati leumi (religious nationalist) education and wears a knitted kippah (kippah srugah) — the mark of men associated with this viewpoint. This is of more than passing interest, because this is the third consecutive time that someone out of this world moved to take out a terrorist in Jerusalem.
This world view, the combination of religious and Zionist conviction, seems to produce young people who are particularly committed. They are among the very finest of our soldiers and more likely to volunteer for elite units.
As to Iran and what’s going on in the US and the UN, I have very little to say here. The response of certain individuals is heartening, but the conduct of the left wing in the US and of the international community — of any one and any group that gives Ahmadinejad legitimacy — is shameful and vile beyond words. I am aghast, and enraged.
As “Eye on the UN” — www.eyeontheun.org — put it:
“Tuesday, September 23, 2008 will go down in history as the day the UN General Assembly provided a platform for a head of state to spew unadulterated, vile anti-Semitism to the applause of the assembled nations of the world. The United Nations has become the largest global purveyor of anti-Semitism in the world today. In the full knowledge that the President of Iran advocates the destruction of the UN member state of Israel, the UN invited him to mount the dais and gave him a megaphone.”
See a video of Ahmadinejad’s talk (with subtitles) here:
This speech met with enthusiastic applause.
How does one continue to hope, in the face of this, that humankind has learned significant and necessary lessons or that decency will prevail?