Friday, May 05, 2006


Arlene's From Israel, May , 2006

I haven't posted any of Arlene Kushner's articles for a while, since she has her own site now. But this one is so important--meaning more than good--that I'm putting it up.

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Main Posted May 1, 2006 »
Posted May 5, 2006
Ehud Olmert's government was officially sworn in yesterday. Below I provide the names of all ministers. May their tenure in office be very brief. The government coalition now consists of 67 seats, comprised of Kadima, Labor, Shas, and Gil (Pensioners). The Knesset debate preceding the vote taken to approve this government was prolonged and divisive -- lasting a full day; ultimately the government was approved 65-49 with six abstentions.
Right now there is jockeying within the government for positions on the all-important Security Cabinet. And outside of the government, in the opposition, there are those vowing to battle Olmert for all they are worth. This began yesterday with Gidon Sa'ar, of Likud, who said he would "fight our battle with the government in any way possible." Claiming that there is a secret agreement between Olmert and Peres (I would not be surprised in the slightest), he demanded the right to see it before the vote was taken. He was overruled by Daliah Itzik, new Speaker of the Knesset. Facing the new government very soon are issues of budget, which are bound to be contentious.
Olmert's speech declared that his "convergence" plan is the first priority of the government. It is, he explained, the only way to retain the Jewish nature of the State and protect Zionism.
This is a blatant lie, although what his real agenda is remains unclear.
Let's look first at the issue of Zionism. Pass, for the moment, over the arguments that this land (including very specifically areas that Olmert would give away) is our heritage for over 3,000 years, pass, for the moment, over the religious convictions attached to the bond we have with the land. Pass over the fact that we acquired Judea and Samaria in the course of a defensive war, which entitles us to retain what we have acquired. Consider, for the moment, only our modern Zionist history: The Mandate for Palestine, which was granted to Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1922, charged Britain with encouraging dense settlement by Jews on the land -- all the land, at a minimum, from the River to the Sea. That land was to be given to us, and that status has never been superseded in international law. Certainly the UN recommendation -- rejected by the Arabs -- that the area be divided didn't supersede it. It is our land. The Zionists who came to settle the land came in this spirit. To withdraw is what is contrary to Zionism.
As to retaining the Jewish nature of the State, the lie has already been put to the idea that we are about to lose control of our country because of demographics. A new study, reported at the prestigious Herzliyah Conference, January 2006, makes this clear. The number of Palestinian Arabs who will be in Judea-Samaria in coming decades has been grossly overestimated -- based on faulty projections and not a census. According to this study, the Jewish population in Judea-Samaria would increase to 71% from its current 67% by 2025. Information about the study can be found at
Additionally, the Arab population presents a threat to the Jewish nature of the State of Israel only if the Arabs are all voting citizens. Those who stayed in Israel in 1948, and their descendants, are citizens. There are , however, ways to accord the Palestinian Arab population of Judea-Samaria dignity and respect without according them full citizenship. Ample precedents exist internationally for handling the situation this way -- with concepts such as "resident alien." Not everyone who lives in a country, even for an extended time, is granted citizenship in that country.
Several proposals are under discussion for how the situation might be handled: For example, areas of autonomy might be created for the Palestinian Arabs -- areas where they would run their own schools, promote their own culture, vote in municipal elections. The Palestinian Arabs would have the benefit of the Israeli health care and pension systems. Israel would retain ultimate control of the land, however, and the Palestinian Arabs would not be able to vote in Israeli national elections.
With what Olmert proposes, these issues need to be revisited time and time again. The PR of the Palestinians has generated a conviction within the world population that part of our land actually belongs to them and that it is a given that they deserve a state. It's time for a new paradigm of thinking and a new understandings of the realities here.
The prospects of what Olmert would do, withdrawing from most of Judea-Samaria, are frightening. Already, there are bold hints of his intention of dividing Jerusalem. MK Otniel Shneller, a member of Kadima and a strong Olmert/"convergence" supporter has given an interview (AP) in which he speaks about turning over the primarily Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the Arabs. Said he, "Those...neighborhoods will, in my assessment, be central to the makeup of the Palestinian capital … al-Quds. We will not divide Jerusalem, we will share it."
Disaster. This man would not be speaking this way if he did not have the implicit approval of Olmert. Olmert makes the case that we have to pull back because there's no partner to negotiate with. But when there's talk of a capital of a Palestinian state, then clearly the pullback is intended to GIVE them the opportunity to establish this state, without negotiations. Idiocy. With Hamas at the helm, most especially. And let it be clear: Jerusalem -- in 3,000 years divided only once, for 19 years under the Jordanian occupation of the eastern portion of the city --should never be divided again.
As I said, may the current government have a very short duration. Already there are people working the political angles to make sure this is the case.
As to negotiations with the PA, Peres announced the other day that after his trip to the U.S., Olmert would be meeting with Abbas. Abbas, who does not want to see unilateral actions by Israel, says he's ready to begin negotiations within the framework of the roadmap. He heads the PLO, he reminds us, which is empowered to do this negotiating. I've covered this ground already: Yes, the PLO is technically so empowered. But the PA is an offshoot of the PLO, and there's no way to finalize an agreement, let alone honor it, with Hamas controlling the PA.
For its part, Hamas calls Olmert's "convergence" plans a declaration of war.
Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, which finally ended up in the opposition and not as part of the coalition, did a bold and admirable thing the other day, and caused quite a flap in the process. In the Knesset he made a speech calling for the execution of Arab Knesset members who collaborate with our enemies.
“We requested that in the government guidelines it would say explicitly that all the inciters and collaborators with terrorism that sit in this house should bear the brunt of the penalty for those actions,” Lieberman said. "All those who continue to meet freely with Hamas and Hizbullah – who go on monthly visits to Lebanon. Those who declared Israel’s Independence Day to be 'Nakba’ [catastrophe] Day and raised black flags…" He told his Arab hecklers, "You will be brought to justice."
Right on! They're not going to be executed (Israel has had exactly one capital case in its modern history: Eichmann), but these people, who have been tolerated all too long out of some notion of openness or political correctness, should be expelled from the Knesset, stripped of all immunity, and prosecuted as the traitors they are. There's something very sick and self-destructive about our national behavior, that this hasn't yet happened. How can we permit people who call our independence day a catastrophe to sit in our parliament??
The Olmert government:
Ehud Olmert, Kadima, Prime Minister
Tzip Livni, Kadima, Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres, Kadima, Minister for Negev and Galilee Development
Avraham Hischson, Kadima, Finance Minister
Haim Ramon, Kadima, Justice Minister
Avi Dichter, Kadima, Internal Security Minister
Meir Sheetrit, Kadima, Housing and Construction Minister
Ron i Bar-On, Kadima, Interior Minister
Gideon Ezra, Kadima, Environment Minister
Ya'acov Edri, Kadima, Liason between Cabinet and Knesset
Ze'ev Boim, Kadima, Immigration and Absorption Minister
Rafi Eitan, Gil, Pensioners Minister
Amir Peretz, Labor, Defense Minister
Yuli Tamir, Labor, Education Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Labor, Infrastructure Minister
Shalom Simhon, Labor, Agriculture Minister
Ophir Paz-Pines, Labor, Culture and Sport Minister
Isaac Herzog, Labor, Tourism Minister
Eitan Cabel, Labor, Minister overseeing Israel Broadcasting Authority
Ya'acov BenYizri, Gil, Health Minister
Yitzhak Cohen, Shas, Minister without Portfolio
Eli Yishai, Shas, Industry and Trade Minister
Arield Attia, Shas, Communications Minister
Meshulam Nahari, Shas, Minister without Portfolio
Daliah Itzik, Kadima, the first woman speaker of the Knesset
Posted on Friday, May 5, 2006 at 07:37AM by Arlene Post a Comment

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