Saturday, December 24, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 23, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 23, 2005

I begin by wishing my Jewish friends a happy Chanukah, and my Christian friends a merry Christmas.

Briefly before Shabbat, primarily issues of a political nature...

[] New head of the Likud, Benyamin Netanyahu, is tilting left. What he is doing is attempting to appear centrist in an effort to draw centrist voters from the still-leading Kadima party. Am I comfortable with this? No. Do I understand his motivation. Yes.

He began by promising 2nd place on the list (with the consent of the Central Committee, which will of course accede) to Silvan Shalom, a Sharon buddy. He has since made other centrist statements, declaring that Likud is not a "far right" party. Critics are charging that he is not allowing Likud to be Likud, never mind a "far right" party. He challenged the wisdom of Sharon's unilateral disengagement, saying that he was able to negotiate real deals with the PA. Oi. It was on his watch that Hevron was given away.

One of Netanyahu's less acceptable moves was to try to banish Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), on the right wing of Likud -- part of his effort to make Likud look more centrist. Not nice. Not fair. Not democratic. Apparently a deal has now been struck in which Netanyahu will not push Feiglin out if Feiglin agrees not to try for a place on the list. Last I heard, Feiglin, who has a distinct following and drew more votes in the primary than had been expected, agrees, saying that his goal is not to be in the Knessat anyway, but to influence thinking inside Likud.

With all of this said, however, I recognize that the priority is taking down Sharon's party, and this may be the only way to do it. The key, when he speaks about real negotiations with the PA is whether he would be serious about holding them to their obligations, such as dismantling terror and stopping incitement. IF (a big "if") that turns out to be the case, talk of "real" negotiations with the PA will remain no more than talk. As I've been discussing here, the PA is becoming ever more radical and there is not the remotest of chances of genuine peace negotiations with the PA carrying its weight. IF Netanyahu does not bow before American pressure as Sharon is doing and refrains from making undeserved concessions, then we will be OK.

In any event, this is all we have. It all bears the closest watching, because the future of Israel is quite literally at stake here.

[] There were again rumors -- which I didn't bother to report here -- of a resolution of the differences between National Union and National Religious Party so that they could form a united bloc for elections, which would substantially increase the number of mandates (number of seats in the Knesset) they would secure. But, again, sadly, it fell apart. Maybe they can figure it out before elections.

[] Polls show that while Kadima is still in the lead, Labor is slipping as people become disenchanted with Peretz. Where will these voters turn instead?

[] Sec. of State Rice has raised a great deal of ire here in Israel, from all sides, with public statements she has made supportive of the Kadima party. This is outrageous interference in internal Israeli politics.

Commentator Carolyn Glick, who works from solid information, says today that the Israeli gov't is increasingly distressed by the degree of US pressure being applied with regard to the crossings from Gaza to Israel. Increasingly, the US is taking the Palestinian side and making light of Israeli security concerns.

[] Kofi Anann, that staunch supporter of Israel, is now saying that when the Quartet (the US, UN, the EU and Russia) meet in the coming year to discuss "peace" issues, Jordan, Egypt and Saudia Arabia can participate in the discussions. Alarming and stomach turning. The tilt is clear, and I am very very much afraid that Bush is tilting along with the majority and less and less can be conceived of as a friend to Israel.

[] With regard to whether Israel allows voting for the PA elections to take place in Jerusalem: Now PA officials are saying that if Hamas wins because there were no votes in Jerusalem they will blame Israel. Cute, as always.

If we go all out to support Netanyahu in order to save us from Sharon, Netanyahu will either make a coalition with Sharon or become the next Sharon. Don't forget that he gave away most of Hebron to the killers of Shalhevet Pass. We have to be true to our ideals. That is what Moshe Feiglin is trying to do, after all. It will happen sooner or later, with Moshe or with someone else. We may ourselves be in a hotel next year, not necessarily the Hyatt, maybe deeper inside the green line. What will it take, a direct hit on the Ashkelon power plant or the airport to wake people up?
Yehoshua, I agree with you. this was written by Arlene, and her email is on the post.
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