Looking for the silver lining.
Looks like Olmert’s "convergence" plan, which called for unilateral pullback in Judea-Samaria, may be dead (please G-d!). The last month has pretty much finished it. It’s hard to imagine the populace supporting this, and polls are indicating it would not. But more to the point, members of Knesset who are part of Olmert’s coalition are also balking at this — it should only last.
Many in Labor are opposed. MK Colette Avital, for example, is quoted as say: "How, after everything we have seen in the past month, could anyone suggest that unilateral steps lead to peaceful solutions. In Gaza and Lebanon we’ve seen what happens with unilateral steps… they create a vacuum that simply leads to more violence."
But so are members of Olmert’s own Kadima party. Otniel Shneller, who helped draft the plan, now says "At this time, it’s simply not relevant." And senior Kadima members Minister Meir Sheetrit and MK David Tal have voiced direct opposition.
There needs to be some sense within the nation that something good for Israel will come out of the pain and horror that this war turned into. What I think about with the most difficulty are the soldiers we lost. Terribly painful to lose them in any event, although when it’s possible to say they gave their lives to make the nation safer there is at least a measure of comfort or sense of purpose. But in this instance?? Beautiful lives, simply wasted? But maybe, maybe, if the horror helps to keep the nation intact, then it wasn’t for nothing. It has just been announced that the population of Judea-Samaria has increased by 3% over the first six months of the year and now tops 260,000 — they should thrive for generations untold exactly where they are.
Maybe it will be more than just stopping "convergence," maybe the war was a wake-up call that will force our clueless leaders to leave the psychosis of political correctness and function with national pride and strength. Or… better, give the electorate the conviction to get rid of those clueless leaders. One can hope. And pray. And from what I’m hearing about the fury of people in the north this sounds like a reasonable bet.
Hey, if we’re lucky, this may be not only the end of "convergence," but also the end of the Kadima party. Yesterday MK Uri Ariel (NU-NRP) filed a bill to disperse the 17th Knesset and call for early elections. Some opposition leaders — notably Netanyahu (Likud) and Eitam (NU-NRP) — are holding criticism of the government until all the soldiers are home. Aryeh Eldad (NU-NRP), however, is coming out swinging; a good man, Eldad — tough and straight.
We shouldn’t push our luck here, but we may also be looking at the end of Olmert’s career (which would pretty much finish Kadima). Ari Shavit, writing an article called "Dead man walking," in Haaretz today, describes an investigation pending of the financial dealings of Aliza and Ehud Olmert, who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars — possibly as much as half a million dollars — less than market value for an apartment recently purchased in Jerusalem. Seems the building in question was earmarked for preservation as a landmark and this was waived so that it could be expanded or rebuilt. The waiver requires some fancy footwork with special permits and such, and there is evidence, says Shavit, that Olmert’s office helped push this through — which means his savings on the purchase of an apartment in the building constitutes a bribe.
While I’m at it, let me mention that Attorney General Mazuz has decided to indict Haim Ramon (never one of my favorite MKs — an arrogant man) on charges of sexual harassment of a government employee. Ramon, of Kadima, is, ironically, Justice Minister, though his duties will be curtailed until this is resolved.
And let me also mention that there has been quite a furor over Defense Minister Peretz’s appointment of former Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak as head of a commission to investigate the conduct of the war. Seems Gen. Lipkin-Shahak was an advisor to Peretz during the war. Cute.
Does all of this still have a touch of the surreal to it? Good to be dealing with these other matters, in any event — even those that are unpalatable, rather than just focusing on the ceasefire. For news on that front is as obscene as ever.
The latest on France’s contribution to the ceasefire: They are willing to send in a "token" force only. According to YNet, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was supposed to announce last night that a symbolic force of 200 troops and 10 officers would be sent, but UN officials persuaded her to wait until Kofi Annan could speak with President Chirac. And indeed, we cannot say that Annan is ineffective, for I’ve just read that Chirac has made a decision to DOUBLE the number of troops France will send to 400. That will make a huge difference. Isn’t he embarrassed? Nahh…
The French are protesting that the mandate is too vague, and so, while they will "lead" the force they are not eager to commit troops. The current UNIFIL — which, incidentally, is headed by a Frenchman, Gen. Alain Pellegrini — consists of 2,000 useless troops. It is supposed to be replaced by 15,000 new troops with an expanded mandate for the purposes of this ceasefire. But the UN is having trouble garnering the forces, and France’s reluctance is making it considerably more difficult.
Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview with US Today, has now said that the UN forces are not expected to disarm Hezbollah, nor will they be ordered to do so. That doesn’t sound to me like what the thrust of the UNSC resolution was; seems there’s been a shift in emphasis. Said Rice, if Hezbollah doesn’t conform with the UN mandate to disarm, then “one would have to assume that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization.” This is the new diplomatic approach, I assume.
The Post did an editorial on this yesterday that was a riff on the same theme. Said the editorial, if the EU would only label Hezbollah as terrorist (something they’ve declined to do), and then tell Lebanon that it will be considered a state supporting terrorism if it doesn’t disarm Hezbollah, and will have sanctions placed against it, then we’d be getting somewhere. Just don’t hold your breath. All of this is instead of taking real action.
Meanwhile, the IDF if pulling out of south Lebanon at a rapid clip — with some 50% of sites already turned over to the old UNIFIL, which will turn them over to the Lebanese army. Israel would uphold the ceasefire, it was stated. This in spite of the fact that the Lebanese cabinet, in announcing that the army would be sent south, declared that the soldiers would not "chase" Hezbollah. Said Information Minister Ghazi Aridi, "There will be no confrontation between the army and brothers in Hezbollah." Once again this echoes for me words of Mahmoud Abbas who declared there would be no going after brothers in Hamas.
Yesterday I posed a question: would there be leadership in Israel strong enough to say we don’t have to obey the ceasefire since no one else is? Well, here we have the answer: We’re being good little boys and girls, even if everyone else is misbehaving. It was just a rhetorical question yesterday anyway. I knew…
This last bit of insight into the situation: A Lebanese general, Adnan Daoud, has been arrested for having tea with Israelis. This happened at Marjayoun, where the IDF took over a Leb
anese army-police garrison last week without much resistance. Seems in spite of having signed an armistice agreement in 1949, Lebanon still considers itself at war with us. Lebanon does not recognize the State of Israel, and forbids any contact That includes drinking tea.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/8/17/posted-august-17-2006.html