The rumors regarding the outcome of the election are flying fast and furious. I do not consider it productive to repeat them all here.
Although the results of the tally of the votes of soldiers, diplomats, etc. had been informally announced days ago, it is only on Wednesday that they will be formally recorded. And only after that will President Peres start meeting with heads of all the parties to determine whom they recommend to form the next government.
Peres, who promised today to play it straight, won’t announce his decision for at least another couple of days after that.
The betting is still on Netanyahu as prime minister. The parameters and possibilities we’re looking at are these:
— If there is to be a right wing coalition, Netanyahu must bridge difference between various right wing and religious parties, and sufficiently satisfy demands, so that he has that solid 65 mandates.
The linchpin remains Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, and he full well knows it. Lieberman is demanding either the Defense Ministry or the Foreign Affairs Ministry for his party. The good news is that this does not necessarily mean Lieberman expects that he, himself, would head either of these ministries — in truth, he is qualified to run neither. It might be someone else in his party.
— That still leaves the question of whether Netanyahu would stop at a narrow coalition of 65, or would truly seek a broader coalition, urging the participation of Livni’s Kadima. The reason he is offering for his inclination to do this is that we are facing security threats that require a broad national basis if we are to deal with them from maximum strength.
— Then there is the question of whether the stipulation for Livni joining would be acceptance of the parameters set forth by Netanyahu in his campaign: unified Jerusalem under Israel sovereignty, etc. Likud members have been saying that the core of the coalition will be right wing (what Netanyahu is calling Likud’s “natural partners”), with a broadening possible from there.
— And, finally, there is the question of whether Livni would accept such an offer, which seems dubious at present. There is even one report indicating that her determination not to participate, expressed in hushed tones in private conversation with Olmert before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, was picked up by microphones. But at the moment of truth, who knows?
Members of Likud are accusing her of playing games, when she knows full well that she cannot consolidate a coalition.
PM Olmert announced yesterday that in acknowledgement of “new political realities,” he would be discussing any major moves of the government with Netanyahu from this point on. That’s a considerable nod. Olmert’s dislike of Livni seems to me so visceral that it’s actually not hard to imagine his not being upset that she is not likely to be the head of government.
Olmert says he hopes a new government forms quickly. That means a Netanyahu government.
Since the end of the fighting in Gaza, the IDF Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) has been documenting information on the Palestinian fatalities during the fighting. The CLA now has a list of names, ID numbers, occupation/affiliation and circumstances of death for some 1,200 of the 1,338 Palestinians killed in the course of Operation Cast Lead. And — no surprise! — the data compiled puts the lie to the Hamas charge that most of those we killed were civilians. In point of fact, just the opposite is true.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights had reported that 895 Gaza civilians were killed in the fighting, amounting to more than two-thirds of the fatalities. The IDF now puts the civilian death toll at no higher than a third of the total. In some instances, women who were classified as civilians were, in fact, terrorists — in two cases they tried to blow themselves up adjacent to IDF soldiers. Some listed as medics by the Palestinians were also terrorists.
The incident that is most glaring in terms of its contradiction of Palestinian claims is this: There was a charge that, on January 6, in the course of an incident at a school in the UNRWA refugee camp of Jabaliya, we killed 42 Palestinians, many of these women and children who were hiding in the school.
The CLA, having completed its investigation, is now able to definitively report that our troops did not shoot at the school at all, but rather returned fire against Hamas gunmen outside the school. There were 12 fatalities, and nine of these were Hamas gunmen, not civilians.
Says Col. Moshe Levi, head of the CLA, of this incident: “…we could see from our surveillance that only a few stretchers were brought in to evacuate people.”
The frustration here is that because the CLA insists on securing accurate information before releasing data, the damage has already been done and the world believes the lies. The IDF is considering setting up a response team to operate in future conflicts, gathering information on the scene to immediately combat these lies.
Mahmoud Abbas, in Russia for meetings, has declared that he won’t “start from scratch” in holding negotiations with a new Israeli government. This, he has declared, would be out of the question.
What is more, “If the settlements don’t stop, all negotiations will be futile and useless.”
He full well knows the negotiations are useless in any event, but is seeking to put the onus on us.
The talk is that Russia will be holding a summit on Middle East negotiations later this year.
Arab nations have promised $1.5 billion to reconstruct Gaza, but the details are extremely fuzzy as there is no unified mechanism for overseeing this reconstruction. There is, rather, enormous PA-Hamas tension with regard to who has control.
I share here an article in the Post by Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard. For those still perhaps unclear on the details of the case, what she outlines is significant:
“My husband, Jonathan Pollard, was never accused, indicted or convicted of treason in a court of law. However, Jonathan has been repeatedly defamed in the media, falsely accused of treason and wrongly branded a ‘traitor’ by those who, incredibly, claim to have no hostile agenda…
“The US Constitution, Article 3, Section 3 defines the crime of treason as follows: ‘Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.’ By repeatedly describing Jonathan as if he were a ‘traitor,’ his crime ‘treason’ and his actions as ‘treasonous,’ [Eli Kavon, who wrote recently on the issue] is not only defaming Jonathan, he is implying that Israel is an enemy nation at war with the US, which is absurd.
“JONATHAN NEVER had a trial. He received his life sentence as the result of a plea agreement which he honored and the US Government violated.
“Jonathan was indicted on one charge only: one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States. There were no additional charges against him. Jonathan is the only person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally.
“The information Jonathan passed to Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities – all being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets. When he resigned in 1994, former NSA Director Bobby Ray Inman publicly admitted that this critical information had been deliberately, illegally withheld from Israel, in retaliation for Israel’s 1981 strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor.”
The IDF (or, in an alternate version of events, DM Barak) is on the verge of opening the main road that leads from Kiryat Arba to the Cave of Machpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hevron. Zion Route, which has been closed to Palestinian traffic for 10 years because of the large number of terror attacks that occurred there, is utilized by Jewish worshippers on Shabbat.
It goes without saying that the residents of Hevron are furious about this. MK Aryeh Eldad (NU) got it just right: “Experiments with human beings are forbidden by the Helsinki Convention and by Israeli and international law. Experiments like this in the past in Hevron have ended with deaths, of both Jews and Arabs.”
Ed Lasky, editor, writing in American Thinker on February 9, predicts that Obama will marginalize Hillary Clinton and the State Department and give new prominence to the National Security Council. This means enormous influence given to Jim Jones, who heads the Council and is already flexing his muscles. Jones has proven himself to be no friend to Israel.
Samantha Power, who is in charge of working with multilateral organizations at the NSC, will also have considerable influence: we are likely to see a push towards more cooperation with anti-Israel organizations such as the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. This dovetails well with Power’s own anti-Israel bias.
All of this requires close watching…