Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 

From Israel by Arlene Kushner, October 11, 2005

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Arlene Kushner: akushner@netvision.net.il

October 11, 2005

Winding down before the break for Yom Kippur -- Wednesday night and Thursday...

[] I begin by announcing publication in Azure Magazine of a major article I have written on UNRWA. You can find it (with a very simple registration required) at:

http://www.azure.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=274

[] According to Arutz Sheva, PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, is demanding the release of Marwan Barghouti from Israeli prison, apparently so that he can run in the PA Legislative Council elections. A former leader of the terrorist groups Tanzim and al-Aksa Brigades, who has advocated disappearance of Israel, Barghouti was tried and convicted of multiple murders and is now serving five consecutive life sentences. He was aware of the planning for, and gave his blessings to, the Tanzim attack on a bar mitzvah party in Hadera. Not someone you'd call a "nice guy" or a "moderate." Yet he has charisma, and his release has been called for before, both by Palestinians and left-wing Israelis. There are even those who tout him as the next head of the PA.

My opinion? Such a man should rot in jail for the rest of his life. But his release may happen one day down the road.

[] Apparently Mahmoud Abbas is supposed to be setting up a new government, but tensions between himself and Ahmed Qurie are slowing down the process. Word is that Abbas would like to replace Qurie -- who, as prime minister, serves at the pleasure of the president.

[] Apparently there also a strong potential for juggling within the Israeli government.

Debate within Labor is focused on whether to remain in the government any longer; cooperation with Likud was seen as desirable only for as long as it was a matter of supporting the "disengagement." Many in Labor anticipate a slowdown in further withdrawals now, so that they believe the appropriate action is one of becoming an opposition party that demands more. Beyond this, political wisdom says that Labor must set itself up as separate from Likud well before the election a little over a year from now (unless the gov't is brought down earlier) or there will be in the minds of the electorate precious little difference between the two and very little reason to specifically support Labor. Peres is bucking his party on this and wants to stay put. But Labor primaries are due before long and it is questionable as to whether Peres will remain on top.

Sharon, who has been anticipating the breakdown of his current coalition, has been courting various other factions. First it was Shinui, which declined to re-enter the government. Now it is the National Religious Party.

[] As politics seems the theme today, I repeat here a message I received from Yoram Ettinger, who is with the Ariel Center for Policy Research and a key advisor to Uzi Landau. Writing about a time when Landau was Minister of Homeland Security and Yoram advised him on Temple Mount and Jerusalem issues, he says:

"Uzi's most difficult hurdle was Sharon's reluctance to change the status quo. Sharon realized that Uzi's aim was to restore Jewish sovereignty, expel PLO/PA organizations from Jerusalem and enforce the law, and therefore Sharon required a full Cabinet vote on any change in the status quo in Jerusalem.

"In spite of Sharon's hurdles, and in defiance of Police top command, Uzi stopped new Muslim construction on the Temple Mt. (other than supervised maintenance and repairs), limited the age of Moslem worshippers (only the older folks were allowed), ordered police to storm rioters on the Temple Mt. which stopped rock throwing on Jewish worshippers, closed the Orient House, seized and examined the archives of the Orient House, evicted PLO/PA organizations from Jerusalem, exposed Palestinian organizations which were registered as philanthropic entities but in fact were engaged in subversion, and initiated the process which resumed Jewish visits to the Temple Mt."

This provides perhaps a little-known perspective on Uzi. I myself have come to the conclusion that seeing Uzi achieve leadership of the Likud and then go on to win the election and become prime minister is the best thing that could happen for the nation.

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