Wednesday, December 14, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 13, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 13, 2005

We have a variety of political/election news items today:

[] First is news about the advancement of democracy in the Palestinian Authority. Seems the Palestinian Central Election Commission has suspended operations, which places the upcoming elections in jeopardy. They could hardly be blamed for their action however, because the safety of their employees was also in jeopardy. Masked gunmen stormed their offices, firing their guns and destroying computers.

Apparently this is about a power struggle within Fatah. The young guard was victorious in the primaries, but Abbas, who is very old guard has final say on who will be on the ballot for Fatah. (I, of course, cannot explain why they bother to have primaries if this is the case.) Needless to say, the masked men represented the young guard -- members of Al Aksa Brigades, actually.

If the election is delayed, this will not sit well with Hamas, I suspect, as this terrorist group is slated to be quite successful. But Abbas is being pressured to postpone until things quiet down. Actually, Al Aksa members are so angry they say they will not let the election proceed in any event.

This was to be the first election to be held for the Palestinian Legislative Council in ten years. The original elections were held after the PA was established under Oslo. Terms of office expired in 1999. (Did you realize that the PA legislative gov't doesn't exist legally?) But somehow it was never the right time for another election with the Intifada and all that violence. I have a very vivid memory of interviewing by phone an assistant to Ahmed Qurei, who is now prime minister and was then speaker of the legislator. I was trying to find out when they were going to have elections. In the course of my discussion with him, I asked, "Aren't you excited? You have the right to vote?" His answer: "We voted once, why do we need to do it again?"

[] Last night I kicked off this posting by laughing about Omri Shoron's concern that if he is sentenced to prison before the elections in March, it will make people think that Kadima is corrupt. I have just one piece of information to add here:

Chaim Barbivai, the mayor of Kiryat Shmona, joined the Kadima party quickly after Sharon founded it. The news now is that he is to be indicted on charges of bribery. Pending the outcome of this, Barbivai has "suspended his candidacy" for a position on the Kadima Knesset list. Good idea.

[] The National Union (right wing, nationalist) party, headed by Rabbi Benny Elon, is kicking off its campaign, with the slogan "Orange Now." This is in reference to the color orange, worn this past spring and summer (and in some cases still now, in protest) by those opposed to the "disengagement." It will strike a strong cord. The message is obvious, and welcome.

There is still no word about a merger of National Union with the National Religious Party.

[] Netanyahu is still in the lead in the polls, with the primary election in Likud next Monday. What is promising is that Uzi Landau is going about with Netanyahu -- they are addressing crowds as a team. Landau's integrity is so high that he would not be doing this if he were not convinced that Netanyahu will hold tight to his committed positions.

[] "No Jerusalem, no peace." Such was the statement at a PA cabinet meeting yesterday of Ahmed Qurie, PA prime minister. He said that the PA will never give up its demand for sovereignty over Jerusalem, and that this is is a primary consideration for making peace with Israel.

Please note: He did NOT say "East Jerusalem" or "Arab Jerusalem." He said, "Jerusalem." It gets more blatant. This is in line with the attempts, which I write about, to "de-judaize" Jerusalem -- to promote the fiction that there were no Temples on the Mount, to claim the Kotel as theirs. And so on. This is a critical battle, not to be taken lightly.

My response, as a resident of Jerusalem? OK, no Jerusalem, no peace. Jerusalem is ours.

[] The news is full of speculation, still, regarding when Iran might become a nuclear power. Different news sources, however, tend to yield different information. It seems that there is a time gap of years between that point of no return, when Iran has the capability, and when the weapons are actually developed. Speculations vary as to how long this would take and when Israel would actually be at risk.

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