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Tag: Amir Peretz

The Coalition Cat Fight

Are you ready for a OneJerusalem quick analysis of Knesset Mayhem?

Keep that circus music in your head now as you read this. By the numbers, PM Netanyahu’s coalition is 74 seats made up of 6 parties. He now wants to pass a bill called the “Mofaz Bill” which would allow for 7 Knesset members to break away from a party and form their own faction. This bill is named after the guy on the right, number 2 on Kadima, currently in the 46-member opposition, who has been irking to join the government against the wishes of his party leader Tzipi Livni, and who has 7 MK’s from his faction that he could break off and join Likud with. Netanyahu wants to do this to break up Kadima, a 28-member faction, down to 21.

Meanwhile, another Kadima MK has thrown a monkey wrench into the shoe factory by sticking an addendum to the bill which would allow 4 MK’s to break off instead of 7. He did this because of the 4 “Labor Rebels” who are technically part of Netanyahu’s government, but sure as heck don’t want to be. They are these guys:

rebelsFrom left to right, Eitan Cabel, Amir Peretz, Yuli Tamir, and Shelly Yachimovich. If 4 can break off, then these four might break off from the 13-seat Labor faction, which Labor leader Ehud Barak, who is part of the government, sure doesn’t want, so would he support the bill? That’s the monkey wrench.

Many people don’t like these moves because they change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. Now, to get into the nitty gritty, Netanyahu also wants to pass a land reform bill which would allow private citizens to own land instead of leasing it from the Israel Lands Administration. The current set up is meant to prevent the sale of land to non Jews who may slowly buy up the state from Jews and keep it. Netanyahu, last week, failed to pass this law because various members of his coalition ran out of the plenum in the middle of the vote so it wouldn’t pass. He got angry, tabled the bill at the last second, and threatened to fire ministers who didn’t support it the next time around.

Now, the 3-member Jewish Home faction is threatening not to vote for the land reform bill round 2 if Netanyahu doesn’t support the Slomiansky Bill, another game changer meant to allow one MK from each faction to retire from the Knesset if named a minister and get his seat back if he is fired from the government. This is meant to allow Jewish Home number 4 Nissan Slomiansky into the Knesset if Jewish Home number 1 Daniel Hershkovitz, Sport Minister, retires from the Knesset.

This is a limited Norwegian Law, and the reason a full one isn’t being passed is that Netanyahu would rather be seen in his underwear than pass a full Norwegian Law that would see over 10 Likud ministers retire from the Knesset and Netanyahu’s arch enemy Moshe Feiglin get in and cause him trouble.

In return, Netanyahu is threatening not to support the Slomiansky Bill if Jewish Home doesn’t support the Land Bill (support of which is needed for it to pass), who in return is threatening not to support the Mofaz Bill if Netanyahu doesn’t support the Slomiansky bill.

SLOW DOWN!

Basically, if any of this circus makes too many people unhappy, the government falls and we go to elections again.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to build nuclear weapons. Numbers really don’t matter so much when it comes to that minor detail.

That’s it for this week’s installment of “Israeli Knesset and Me.”

Political Shakshuka the new Israeli Government

Israel finally has a new government, 30 ministers and 7 assistant ministers in all. It appears that the new prime minister (or should I say renewed P.M.) and none other than Bibi Netanyahu, had to give out a lot of new jobs to a lot of new people just to satisfy them, including those from political parties whose overall platforms Bibi and his Likud Party doesn’t usually agree with.

Liberman GladiatorThe new government, when sitting for their first photo session on Wednesday April 1, which was also April Fools Day, looked more like that Middle Eastern tomato and egg dish known as Shakshuka. In fact many observers are calling the new government just that – a “political Shakshuka” of people who ordinarily are screaming at each other during parliamentary sessions, or just ignoring each other at best. Bibi had to really throw a political bone to his new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose Israel Our Home Party managed to get 15 Knesset seats in the February 11 election. Lieberman didn’t waste any time in announcing that he would not allow any of the West Bank to be given away to the Palestinians, and does not agree to a peace deal with them. I’m not referring at all to that bunch of low life’s in the Gaza Strip, but to that “other bunch” who sit in Yassir Arafat’s old headquarters in Ramalla.

For those of you not aware, Shakshuka is a tasty dish made by throwing red peppers, tomato sauce, eggs, an a number of spices into a pan and cooking them together for about half an hour. This mixture of ingredients has caused the dish to be named as such; Shakshuka, meaning a mishmash of things thrown together.

Poor Tzipi Livni, now Head of the Opposition, has to sit this one out like Bibi did the last go-around when the Likud only managed to get 11 seats. Now it’s her turn to pout, and many are wondering if her Kadima Party might wind up going into melt-down like Tommy Lapid’s Shinui (Change) party did a few years back. Golda Meir she isn’t, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her, and she may even wind up getting the last laugh, when this new government of strange bedfellows finds out they really can’t function as a team. Her image as foreign minister was surely a lot better than this Russian guy who has given Israeli Arabs an ultimatum to “shit or get off the pot”, meaning they better start packing if they aren’t prepared to give a loyalty oath to the Jewish State in which they live.

Other new cabinet members, especially those “good old boys” who have been intensely loyal to Mr. Netanyahu in his darkest moments, have been rewarded; especially Dr. Yuval Steinitz, who appears to be about as qualified for his post as Amir Peretz was as defense minister under the first part of the Olmert regime. But that’s the spoils system for you as has often been the case in American politics as well.

We’ll all have to see whether this new “shakshuka” aspect of Israeli political life will work out. At least one silver lining is already apparent in this possible cloud: a guy named Ehud Olmert is no longer presiding over the entire mess.

Labor Party Primaries Hardly Noticed In Israel

No One Worth Voting For - Labour 2007With Israel Labor Party primaries only hours away, and on top of current security issues such as the beleaguered town of Sderot and military actions into Gaza, tomorrow’s inter-party primary elections for a new Labor Party leader seem to be so boring that even the most mediocre TV program will probably receive better ratings.

The three front-runners, including present party leader and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, also include former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and a newer ‘kid on the block’ former Naval Chief Ami Ayalon; who appears to be the front runner, and the only new face among a group of hopefuls whose aspirations are not generating any excitement within a political party which is only a shadow of it’s former self.

Peretz, running a distant third behind ‘Rear-Admiral’ Ayalon and Barak ‘The Watchmaker’ (Barak’s favorite hobby is disassembling and reassembling watches and clocks) still thinks he can pull off an upset and retain his present position, made increasingly unstable in the aftermath of the sensational Winograd Report. Amir appears to have delusions of grandeur, however, as pre-primary polls show him able to garner less than 20% of the party vote, compared to Barak’s 31% and Ayalon’s 35%.

Barak also appears to be suffering from a few delusions himself, as his short term as Prime Minister resulted in Israel’s hasty pull-out from Lebanon in May, 2000, followed by the disappointing Camp David Summit later that summer and the Second Intifada in the fall. Even Barak himself seems to have some doubts as he was quoted recently as saying: “if there will be a run-off, I’ll lose it (the election)”.

Ayalon appears to be the only possible man who might possibly be able to bring some new life into the party which was virtually unopposed in Israeli politics for nearly thirty years. But in light of present realities, even he may have an uphill struggle due to infighting within Labor, together with Ayalon’s personal connections with Palestinian Professor Sari Nusseibeh concerning a two state solution for Israelis and Palestinians; a not too popular conception nowadays with Kassam rockets still raining down on Israel’s southern regions. The aftermath of last summer’s war, coupled with the present Hamas led hostilities in the south, has increased right winged feelings and given strength to more hawkish political parties, particularly opposition Likud party leader Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Natanyahu.

In the fall-out from events which may occur during the coming days (especially if the conflict with the Palestinians grows more intense) it may even set the stage for such people as Arkadi Gaidamak to become even more popular at the expense of current politicians, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who appears to holding onto power by the skin of his teeth. If Gaidamak continues to win friends and influence people, as he has with his assistance to Sderot residents and others in distress, even he might be a possible political leader in the not so distant future. After all, with all the millions that Arkady has, he doesn’t need to be corrupt – he has enough money already.

Labor’s chances of being in the next Israeli government are not too good at this point. But Israeli politics often results in strange bedfellows; and when push comes to shove, this party could very well be right in there again, alongside an even more right-winged government. After all, a deal is a deal, even if the ‘menu’ is not too palatable.

Dan Leaves Us

Halutz Leaves
I guess we all saw this coming in July:

The outgoing chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Dan Haloutz, announced his resignation on Tuesday night, after months of criticism over the IDF functioning during the second Lebanon war.

Despite all the good things that were said about Dan Haloutz, I think that this move was a must. Now if only Peretz would learn from this move…Peretz has already been placed in check and the process of selecting the new chief is going to be monitored:

“Although the defense minister formally makes the appointment, it is his [Peretz’] intention to set up a clear process, in order to choose the best possible chief of staff,” Olmert said.

War Updates

Haifa was bombed today with three salvos of Katyusha missiles. Some Missiles landed on buildings and some landed near the industrial zone and the distillation factories.

One missile landed on an apartment building, which has collapsed. Although the apartments were mostly empty since the residents were in the shelters, four people were lightly injured and evacuated to the hospitals. There was some concern that people may have been trapped beneath the rubble. Fire forces put out the fire that has burst in the place while in the meantime searched for possible trapped people using dogs.

Zefat was also bombed again today, and a building was hit with a direct hit. Fortunately the building was already evacuated for the fear of an attack. The neighbors reported of panic and fear. The mayor of Zefat, Ishai Maimon, has been receiving complaints from citizens that said that the town is not well equipped with shelters. Residents who do not have relatives to flee to in the south are saying they’re feeling neglected.

At noon a few Katyusha missiles landed in Carmiel. One of the missiles hit a duplex house and penetrated the house of one family. Once again the family was fortune enough to leave their houses prior to the attack.
Many families in the central area and south of the country have opened their houses for people from the north. Hundred of people have left their houses, mainly families with small children, and are being hosted in the houses of Jewish families all over the country.

In the meantime Israel is still heavily bombing southern Lebanon, infrastructures and Hezbollah facilities. This morning the Lebanese media has reported that an Israeli aircraft has being shot down above Lebanon, however the IDF spokesman denied it.

At noon the Minister of Security, Amir Peretz, had a small press- conference and announced that Israel will not stop the attack until its goals have been achieved. He mentioned the vast support Israel is accepting from the international community. He also said that has far as the information he has, there was no plain crash in Lebanon.

A third front may have been started this morning, when Osher Damri, a warrior in the platoon Harub, was killed in an attack during an operation in Nablus. This operation comes as many Palestinian organizations are trying to send suicide bombers into Israel, to help Hezbollah.

The heat is apparently getting to the east, as Iran today offered a cease-fire in exchange to the release of Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli soldiers.

Lebanon Front Now Open for Business

Israel back in LebanonThis morning 2 soldiers were kidnapped on the northern border and so far there are 11 wounded. There is now fighting on two fronts and we are glued to the news again. There is no doubt that this was expected. Announcements in previous days calling for the kidnapping of additional soldiers by Islamic groups now prove to be the course of action in our region.

The army is chasing down the captors and an operation is underway to destroy key bridges and infrastructure in the hope of returning the soldier. People are looking at Olmert and Peretz the new prime minister and Defense Minister. This is a test for them as well and they need to balance the gut impulse and the fanatic voices in government that call for an immediate escalation and war on both fronts. On the other hand this is the Middle East. That means that when someone comes at you and tries to push you around you stomp them immediately and with conviction. This is a test for the new government and the leadership. The army is willing and more then able. It’s now time to settle the score.

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Ynet News reports:

Under massive fire in a coordinated attack, Hezbollah kidnaps two IDF soldiers, demands prisoner release in exchange for troops. Israel confirms two soldiers missing. IDF strikes targets in south Lebanon, conducts ground search in bid to locate troops.

“In accordance with the obligations the Hezbollah movement has taken on itself to release the prisoners and detainees, the movement managed to capture two soldiers on the border with occupied Palestine. The two were taken to a safe place,” the Lebanese organization declared in a statement aired on its television station al-Manar.

See the Video here

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