Let me begin with a link to my latest report on Fatah as moderate. No, this is not the glimmer of hope, although you can perhaps help expand that glimmer by sharing this information with those who still need to "get it":
As to the glimmer:
As more people are seeing the government as just too shaky and vulnerable to function properly, there is increased talk of the possibility of elections — with the move to go to elections happening either during the summer Knesset session (which is just starting) or the winter session.
Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa’ar expressed hope that "for the good of the state, it will be in this session, because it is impossible to maintain a stable government under the current conditions.
"If we can actually push the government to elections, that will be enough of an achievement for us during this session. We plan to act to widen the cracks within the coalition, and will work to shorten the term of this government and to get elections before the end of 2008."
While MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) observed that "I really hope that there are coalition parties like Labor that will demonstrate that they are more concerned about Israeli democracy and the public’s faith in the government than about furthering their own political careers.
"…the topic of elections and instability will lie just under the surface during every hearing about every subject. It simply cannot be that this kind of government can be responsible for life-and-death decisions."
As for the major coalition faction, Labor, there is movement in the same direction, although perhaps a bit more slowly.
MK Danny Yatom is reported to have held a Labor gathering at his home, at which Barak, party chair, said that elections would likely be held at the end of this year or the beginning of 2009. He said they had to keep their cool and that there was no reason to rush, but that people were beginning to take it all seriously and it was becoming obvious that early elections would be held.
Yatom observed, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that "With all the suspicions against [Olmert] the public’s trust in him has been completely shattered. Since the public cannot be replaced, the prime minister must be replaced."
Olmert, of course, is telling members of his Kadima party that they must all stay unified. He shouldn’t count on it. As the mood shifts, there are likely to be defections. Even now, several party members held a meeting that they termed a "conceptual forum" — in order to decide where they were going.
Now, you may be wondering if this talk of elections coming perhaps at the end of the year means that Olmert will not be indicted before then (assuming that he will be indicted). It’s an important question.
The investigation is forging ahead. Olmert’s lawyers are fighting for all they’re worth to prevent Talansky from testifying before an indictment — claiming that it would infringe on Olmert’s basis rights. The State prosecutor, Moshe Lador, is insistent that Talansky must testify — that this is not an unusual procedure and that it can be done in a manner that is appropriate within the law.
Meanwhile, Olmert is demonstrating a distinct reluctance to answer more questions. So matters are plugging along.
What had at first promised to be a speedy event is now slowing down to a process of some many weeks or even months. We are reminded that it remains in Attorney General Mazuz’s hands to decide exactly when to indict (even if it is decided that indictment is the way to go).
Just a brief note here regarding some political matters. Once Avigdor Lieberman pulled his party out of the coalition some months ago, the majority Olmert was working with was reduced. What has now threatened to reduce it even further, down to 64 seats (with 61 required) is a potential split within the Pensioners party. The smaller the majority the easier to find sufficient number of defectors to bring it all down. But the Pensioners split, which was thought to be a done deal, is now in question with regard to its legality, as those splitting were going to join with millionaire Arkady Gaydemak, who had pledged money to get them going because he wanted a party base.
A barrage of Kassams was launched at Ashkelon to day and one narrowly missed what is being called "a strategic site." (Better if those doing the launching are not helped by news reports that tell precisely what they almost succeeded in doing.)
And still there are the mixed messages regarding what is happening with Hamas:
According to Haaretz, Barak, who is headed to Egypt, is prepared to tell Mubarak that we’ll accept an unofficial ceasefire that comes about slowly, with a cessation of Israeli military operations if the rocket launchings cease, with the blockade of Gaza then lifted if progress is made on Shalit.
According to this version of the situation , Israel has softened just a bit on the matter of what terrorists to release in a Shalit deal, with a readiness to release some with blood on their hands, while Hamas is still demanding terrorists who were involved in "mass casualty" terror attacks.
What is extremely troublesome here is that there is no clear stipulation about the cessation of weapons smuggling being a necessary component of our readiness stop operations: "Israel will also try to get Egypt to step up efforts to stop weapons from being smuggled into Gaza" just isn’t good enough! What is more, this is a backtracking from what had been said previously.
What Haaretz is reporting is this:
"Government officials are slowly coming to realize that a large-scale military operation in Gaza does not serve Israeli interests right now.
"It appears from talks which Olmert and senior cabinet ministers held recently with representatives of the Bush administration and key European Union states that Israel will not have international support if it organizes an assault on Gaza now. However, Israeli sources said they think if it turns out, in a few weeks or months, that the cease-fire has failed because of Hamas, the U.S. and some European states might be more understanding about an attack."
This is how the government operates? Making decisions on whether to protect Israeli citizens dependant upon whether the international community will understand?
With all of this, it is being said that Barak, Olmert and Livni are all skeptical about the chances for a long term quiet with Hamas.
"The Israel Defense Forces will receive an order to begin an operation only if the Egyptian proposal fails, and Kassam fire from Gaza intensifies to the point of incurring serious losses in the western and northern Negev. As the politicians talk about a cease-fire, the IDF is preparing for the chance that the security situation in the South will worsen."
Intensifies to the point of incurring serious losses? How many lives have to be lost before it’s serious?
As Aaron Lerner, director of IMRA, wrote , on this issue: "The Arabs can murder Israelis, but shouldn’t overdo it."
The communities situated near Gaza ar
e working on a PR effort that will push the government to take action against rocket attacks. Every community will donate a portion of its budget to hiring of professional PR persons who will publicize what is taking place in these communities.
More power to them!
According to Al Quds Al Arabi in London , Abbas is prepared to declare the peace talks a failure. This is because of reports that Olmert has promised Shas that he will permit thousands of apartments to be built in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. And because Abbas was informed by Europeans that the US does not intend to pressure Israel.
This declaration is supposed to be made in a speech Abbas will give in Ramallah. We shouldn’t hold our collective breath.
Meanwhile, according to YNet, PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei is demanding that the Palestinian state, rather than being demilitarized, have a full regular army (as compared to police). Livni was said to be incensed.
Said an Israeli official: This isn’t progress, it’s backtracking. Reports of progress in the negotiations are misleading the public."
For some of us, this, too represents a glimmer of hope.
For those who might like to see a video of Bush’s amazing talk in the Knesset: