The big news yesterday was that PM Olmert informed the nation that he has prostate cancer. It’s at an early stage, is expected to be easily treatable, and won’t interfere with his responsibilities.
He was applauded in many circles for his forthrightness, and it is said that this will have a salutary effect on his political situation — people will see him more positively and he will be cut slack with regard to his investigations for corruption.
From the perspective of those of us who are uneasy about what Olmert intends with Annapolis, this is not the way we want to see things evolving. If he is to become more respected and be cut slack, it should only be because he’s doing the right thing for our nation. And of that there is no indication.
While he continues to say he will not agree to negotiating final terms before the conference or setting a timetable, there is vast unease about what he will agree to in principle with regard to a two-state solution. A great deal of analysis is circulating that anticipates one maneuver or another that he will pull — such as getting us so focused on Jerusalem that we forget to notice that he’s going to give away Judea, Samaria and ultimately the Golan.
I will not speak to details of what Olmert intends to pull off. I don’t know those details. What I do know is that I don’t trust him and certainly have no confidence in his commitment to the heritage of our nation. For him, according to reports from all who know him, giving it away is easy. In fact, just today someone knowledgeable told me, "He has no red lines."
Thus the intentions of the various members of the coalition, who have it in their power to bring down the government, become critically important — as does the question of what they can be convinced by a distressed electorate to do. Time is short, a growing number of people both here and in the US are aware of the need to act, and there can be no delay.
The possibility remains very real that we will be saved from ourselves by our enemies.
On Sunday, a Kuwaiti paper quoted Abbas as saying there are many disagreements over final status.
As of yesterday, according to Maan, a Palestinian news agency, Abbas was still saying he won’t make any concessions, while Ahmed Qurei, chief negotiator for the Palestinians, was quite categorical at a news conference with the EU’s external affairs commissioner: "The Israeli prime minister has stated that he will not accept a timetable, and we say we will not accept negotiations without a timetable."
Meanwhile, Azam el-Ahmad, head of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian parliament, was even clearer, telling Israel Radio that negotiations had reached a dead end. "There has not been an agreement on any issue," he said, indicating that there would be no conference if the situation didn’t change.
According to an Israel Radio report , one of the sources of disagreement is the issue of who gets to determine when there has been compliance with stage I of the Road Map.
When Israel originally accept the US plan for peace called the Road Map it was with conditions, which were attached. The US promised to take them under consideration but not necessarily to accept them. But, at least in theory, our acceptance of the plan is predicated on these conditions — which almost no one pays attention to now.
They are certainly relevant to issues such as that of how compliance is determined. For example: (condition #2) "Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement."
Instead of full performance, the Palestinians are pushing more for a "We’re moving along so let’s dispense with this and get to the next stage" approach. "Moving along"? Oh, maybe they will have closed down a charity that was a front for Hamas, which proves they’re fighting terror.
Does this strike you as facetious? It’s really not.
In spite of the dire "warnings" by Palestinians that failure at Annapolis would mean violence worse than what took place in 2000, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, doesn’t think so. Violence will increase, he conceded in testimony to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, but it won’t be as bad, never mind worse.
"In my estimation," he said, "the Palestinians are exhausted. There isn’t the energy in the public and there also isn’t the leadership right now that could spur such resistance."
Were the IDF to pull out of Judea and Samaria , this would "pose a great security threat for Israel."
A senior Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan , said earlier this week that Hamas is poised to take over Judea and Samaria and will soon be praying in the Mukata compound in Ramallah.
I’ve already written about the incomprehensible plans of the Bush government to give the PA an additional $435 million, which would include $150 million in direct cash transfers to the PA.
According to State Department officials this is geared to showing the Palestinians what perks can come their way if they renounce terrorism. Does State really think it’s that simple?
They claim the aid request is to meet "a critical and immediate need to support a new Palestinian Authority (PA) government that both the U.S. and Israel view as a true ally for peace." Exactly what "new" Palestinian Authority government were they thinking of?
Congressional figures are saying, however , that this will not be allocated unless something significant happens in Annapolis.
Meron Benvenisti, a historian, writer and a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, espouses a very liberal political stance. He is someone who, at one time, would have dearly loved to see part of Jerusalem go to the Palestinians. However, he has now said, in an Israel Television interview, that the mix of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has developed since 1967 makes it impossible to simply divide the city between Israel and the Palestinians. "In this city the egg has been so scrambled that it cannot be restored. This talk may be good for the Americans or for internal Israeli debate, but on the ground, take a look and see, how can you do it? You can’t."
So, who’s listening?
From the perspective of many of the 250,000 Jerusalem Arabs, it will be a good thing if the city cannot be divided; they fear losing health benefits, job opportunities and a good deal more if they find themselves under the jurisdiction of the PA.
Jamil Sanduqa, head of the popular committee that governs the Shuafat neighborhood (which is within Jerusalem municipal limits and has been cited by Ramon, Lieberman and others as a neighborhood that would be relinquished) explained to a Washington Times correspondent: "If they put a border here, we’ll move to Haifa and Tel Aviv. You’ll have 50,000 people who live here leaving East Jerusalem in minutes."
There’s been a bit of a stalemate with regard to our cutting back on energy supplies to Gaza. Attorney General Mazuz has put a hold on it in order to do an assessment to be sure everything is in order. He says he want
s to be certain the measure could be implemented without violating the prime minister’s promise last week "not to cause a humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip. This sounds more than a little strange to me on a couple of counts. Defense officials insist this will proceed shortly.
More important, Barak is saying that the ground operation into Gaza is coming closer. Ten mortar shells and two Kassams were fired from Gaza yesterday.
A bill — proposed by MK Zevulon Orlev (NRP) — banning Israelis who visited enemy states without permission from running in Knesset elections has passed its first reading in the Knesset. We need this to be the law of the land.