At the moment it looks as if, please G-d, we will have a right wing coalition government. In theory, Netanyahu is still supposed to meet with Livni one more time on Friday, but coalition negotiations — which will determine ministry assignments and platform details — have begun, starting with Shas, Yisrael Beitenu and United Torah Judaism.
The assumption, then, is that Netanyahu has no further expectations of Kadima in the government. He is expected to build a sizeable cabinet of some 22 ministers.
Negotiations are being handling by a committee headed by MK Gideon Sa’ar, Likud faction chair; he says he intends to build a strong coalition that will last until 2013, when the next elections are scheduled by law (barring collapse of a gov’t).
A prime reason Netanyahu gave for wanting Livni in the coalition is to show solidarity with regard to Iran. But she has assured him that from the opposition she will totally support him on this issue and lend whatever assistance is necessary.
The 18th Knesset was sworn in yesterday, and includes 31 new MKs.
I have learned that appointment to the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council can be done automatically by the president. And so, Chas W. Freeman Jr. apparently would not have to be confirmed by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. However, I have picked up no word that the appointment is final, and as long as that is the case, I encourage communication with the Senators of the Committee any way. It is all together appropriate to express your outrage as an American citizen and request that all possible leverage be brought to bear to prevent this appointment from taking place.
Fatah and Hamas have held some preliminary meetings — mediated by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman — prior to major negotiations aimed at forging a unity government.
The animosity between the two groups is enormous and there are deep ideological differences. But there is also motivation now to come together for purely pragmatic reasons: they need to present a united front to arrange the authority for rebuilding in Gaza, and to attempt to secure the opening of the crossings.
I will note here, and will continue to note, that there is no demand being placed on Hamas with regard to relinquishing terrorism or recognizing Israel’s right to exist. And yet, as far as the international community is concerned, this unity government, which also would provide one address for negotiations, is seen as a necessary precursor to advancing the “peace process.”
Don’t look for logic.
Yesterday, Hamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar told Reuters that, “It’s our right to bring in everything – money and arms. We will not give anyone any commitment on this subject.”
Recently the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University released a study, that had been headed by Prof. Ephraim Inbar, that indicates that a “two state solution” is not viable: Says Inbar, the Palestinians have too many internal rifts; neither Fatah nor Hamas really wants peace with Israel (many continue to assume Fatah, which pretends it does, really wants peace); and neither the PA nor Hamas would be capable of governing a state.
And just a month ago, Khaled Mashaal, political chief of Hamas in Damascus, announced a campaign against the PLO, which is dominated by Fatah. Declaring that it was Hamas’s goal to replace the PLO with a new organization that would serve an agenda of “resistance,” Mashaal said:
“At this moment, the PLO is no longer a unifying point of reference, but has become impotent and a tool for deepening Palestinian divisions.”
What this means is Hamas wishes to be in charge, and to change the rules by which the PLO represents Palestinians world-wide.
Obama has committed $900 million for reconstruction in Gaza, to be channeled primarily through UNRWA. This is presumably to keep it out of the hands of Hamas, but anyone who know how UNRWA conducted itself during the recent war in Gaza knows what a joke this is. UNRWA persistently echoed Hamas’s fallacious charges of “war crimes” against Israel. Most blatant was the UNRWA charge that we had hit one of its schools and killed 40 civilians, when it turned out we hadn’t hit the school at all and only 12 people were killed, none of them terrorists.
Yesterday a senior Israeli government official charged that UNRWA provides political cover for Hamas: UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd passed a letter, on behalf of Hamas, to Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, when he was in Gaza last week. Said the official:
“Unfortunately, there is a pattern here. That no one finds it strange that UNRWA, whose mandate is humanitarian, is the vehicle through which Hamas passes messages on to the US, just shows where UNRWA is at.”
For insight into how UNRWA functions, see my report at: http://israelbehindthenews.com/pdf/UNRWAOverviewAndCritique.pdf
Barry Rubin’s new piece, “American, look behind you! Turn around! Turn around!” merits a serious read:
“America: A freight train is heading your way and you’re standing right on the tracks, looking in the wrong direction.
“Or perhaps it is like a horror film in which the killer sneaks up behind the hapless victim while the movie audience yells: “Turn around! Turn around!” And then blood spatters the screen.
“Unfortunately, in this case, it might be our blood, and it won’t be produced by a special effects department.
“Today, US policy and the dominant thinking are not based on realpolitik but on international affairs as a popularity contest. Its motto might be, ‘The nice will inherit the Earth,’ as the Obama administration tries to prove that it’s not like that mean old Bush.”