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The US Elections and Israel

I was asked to provide my take on the Impact of the US elections on Israel. I got a little carried away….
In terms of the US elections and impact on Israel.

I think that the impact is significant and that we are all aware of it especially in these hard financial times. The relationship between Israel and the US is historically close and obviously there is a genuine interest in keeping that relationship going. Just from the fact that out of 3 major TV channels at least 2 are showing all week long specials on the elections and the candidates, you realize that the interest level is more then casual.

Impact is a scary word. It can sometimes refer to an adverse effect and I think some people are worried about that with Obama – especially when compared with McCain. McCain is “more of the same” and in this race seems to be the “sure thing” in terms of Israel. He is a Naval Academy grad and an “old army man” (I know the pun…) so that makes him good for Israel. The unknown here is Obama. Will Obama be good for Israel seems to be the million dollar question and the papers and commentators in Israel ask it all the time. But media fed fear is a great ratings/money maker and so I don’t really consider it a good basis for a decision.

I look at a combination of the Job and the Man. I think the presidency of the world’s largest corporation is a difficult gig and brings with it a very steep learning curve. I think that many “presidents to be” had one set of rock solid opinions when they stepped up to the plate and then faced with the realities of the land, the advice of experienced consultants and even previous leaders arrived at different decisions when it came down to executing strategy. Israel and the Middle East is
a traditional “Hot Potato” – period. It’s a foreign policy swamp/nightmare for any US president because of the strategic importance of the area and the volatile population in the region. Finding a steady partner in that swamp is the only way to wade through this particular swamp and this is a lesson that every US president in the last 50 years has had to learn, pretty much the first week on the job.

Now for the man. I like Obama. I think he will be first of all – good for America. I think more of the same is not a good idea for so many obvious reasons. I also think the idea of bringing in a man that will finish his first term of presidency at the age of 76 and the second term (maybe..) at the age of 80 is a problem, especially considering the second in command is an Alaskan with a set of values taken from the middle ages.

Obama is a political loner and in many cases even an outsider. I also don’t think of him as black. He is a determined, dynamic, educated, new world, self made man. He has been able to learn and adapt quickly. He has been able to learn from his mistakes. And, he has been able to stand and fight when needed. All important qualities for a future president.

I also think that these are the characteristics that make this candidate very likely to learn the importance of Israel to the US and value the long standing relationship with this country.

In the long run the Clean & Green policy that Obama wants to move forward will start to reduce the impact of the Middle East on the rest of the world. You need to make that assumption carefully because not “all things remain equal” in this world, but that is a possibility. I also see that as a positive development because it will make the countries in the region look at developing other resources and capabilities in their respective countries and that might actually mean a higher education
rate and real social progress – which of course means less room for fundamentalism and ignorance.
Who knows….

Liking the Kid or Is Obama good for Israel?

Are Israelis really for Obama? I am not sure. I came across this ad for Obama. It’s a campaign piece but it made me think a little.

Today the front pages of the newspapers were showing the pearls of wisdom provided for us by the good Rev. Jessy Jackson. I clearly remember the famous Haimi speech that basically flushed Jessy’s political career down the toilet – that was one of those “brilliant” moments that I just know left Jessy scratching his head for years to come.

Since then Jessy tried to stay relevant (even remembered) and whenever possible tried to stick it to Israel. So I guess when I see that he suggested that he says that: Obama will be less of a friend to Israel and will be better for Palestinians, I am a little skeptic.

I asked my nephew (4 yrs old) about his opinion. These days I think that his opinion is actually as relevant as anyone I see on the news.. And he had a simple answer. I showed his both McCain and Obama on TV (he recognized both) and asked him who he preferred – “I like the kid” he said. You know what, I have a feeling he is right and that he is predicting the future.

McCain’s woman strategy was a good idea on paper but not the “woman at all cost” execution. Palin is a problem and a tough pill to swallow for probably the one group he was mostly trying to reach – Women. My Mom (self proclaimed old school lady) was first very impressed – she loved the fresh attitude and the glasses were just fabulous…. But then some cracks appeared. The talk about Anti Abortion, Pro NRA and the fact that she had such a narrow point of view of life (mostly from Alaska) started making her a little nervous.

Let’s face it – Sarah’s views belong in a different century and of all demographics women, are the one group that knows it. Can the US really afford to go marching into 2010 with a leader (any leader) that feels its a sin to abort a pregnancy no matter the circumstances? Wasn’t this issue laid to rest ages ago?

I like John McCain. I am more confident that he is the better leader for Israel-US relations. Period. No doubt. I think that Obama is young and inexperienced. I think Obama is Naive. Can Obama get past that – can he learn and improve? Yes.

Look at his track record during these elections:

In these elections Obama proved a couple of things. He has the balls to bypass the Clintons (no small thing). He had a good potential running mate there with Hillary that would have taken him all the way to the brass ring but she would have stabbed him in the back the first chance she would have had.
What’s worse, Hillary comes with a built in Ex President with an over developed ego that makes her even more difficult to control and predict.

Joe Biden was a good choice. Obama brought in a “deal maker” to make those uneasy political moves he is going to need some grease and Biden is the right Mechanic for the job.

Now back to Pailin. If anything happens to John (God forbid) SHE WOULD BE PRESIDENT! Let me say that again: Sarah Pailin would be the US President!

And now for a commercial break…


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2VFRt5W4FM[/youtube]

Love Cards from Washington

The Taglit organization (Birthright Israel) has done the unbelievable, and managed to bring together this season’s bitter adversaries.

US Elections coming to a Synagogue near you

Unbelievable! Check out these Kippahs at VanityKippah.com:

Hot Kippah

Et tu, Cheney?

Cheney in RamallahNo sooner had the fine china been put away for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain at Jerusalem hotels like the Kind David at Jerusalem hotels like the King David, when U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney came to town. Cheney, also back from a quick trip to beleaguered Iraq (where U.S. forces have just suffered their 4,000th war casualty) stopped off in Israel to visit both with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Not exactly “Mr. Personality”, Cheney reiterated previous remarks by both McCain and Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice (who was also here recently) in respect to American support of a two state solution and a full partnership with Israel. Cheney also pulled no punches when he mentioned that Iran was not only a danger to Israel but to America and the non-Islamic world at large. This also was not anything new as both Senator McCain and Sec. Rice had made similar remarks.

In respect to relations between Israel and the Palestinians, Cheney said that in order for peace to be achieved, “some painful concessions need to be made”. Now, here is the kicker question in this remark: painful for whom? Israel, the Palestinians (the West Bank Palestinians, that is ) or for those nasty people called Hamas who nobody wants to deal with, except people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah, that is. And we might as well throw in people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s No. 2, and even more nasty than Osama bin Laden, so they say. Cheney’s visit with Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas was also a bit lackluster, but what could one expect, since any rational person knows who the most powerful Palestinian leader really is.

Cheney has been behind much of America’s five plus year Iraq experience that is being “commemorated” today with the announcement of the 4000th slain U.S. combat soldier. Not as bad as Vietnam, which had at least 40,000 dead GI’s after the same 5 year period. But these new war dead are bad enough for a much scaled down professional military that requires it’s thinly spread-out troop contingents to spend at lest two duty tours in either Iraq or Afghanistan – take their choice.

As for Cheney’s short trip here, it will most likely be his last to the region, although his boss, President George W. Bush plans to be back in Israel to help celebrate the upcoming 60th Independence celebration. Busch better not plan to be here at the same time that former Beatles greats Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr plan to be here too, as they will surely upstage him.

Oh what the heck. The fact that he’s still alive with half a heart left feebly beating is a triumph in itself! Dick Cheney doesn’t need to worry about such things as upstaging the Beatles, since he won’t be attending the party.

What McCain is Learning From Israel

U.S. Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain didn’t just make a recent Middle East tour to say hello. McCain, being a former military man himself, decided rightly that he needs see for himself the current situation in countries that will be a big part of his country’s foreign policy dealings should he be sitting in the Oval Office next January 21st. After previous remarks that American forces will remain in Iraq “for 100 years, if necessary” in a manner similar to post WWII Germany and Japan, McCain realizes more than anyone that in order for his country’s 3 trillion dollar investment in post Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to bear fruit, American foreign policy must undergo some serious changes.

McCain’s visit to Israel, in which he made some very positive remarks about American Israeli relations, comes at a time when the Israeli/Palestinian issue is at a most volatile level, and is influenced considerably by radical Islamic fundamentalism; with the Islamic Republic of Iran being Israel’s greatest danger since becoming a nation. During an interview conducted with editors from the Jerusalem Post, McCain said the following concerning the Iranian threat:

“When you look at the multitude of challenges and the nature of the enemy, including a nation that is developing nuclear weapons and is dedicated to Israel’s destruction, then from my standpoint, Israel is probably at greater risk than perhaps it has been since 1947”.

McCain is careful not to appear that his country is trying to exert undue influence upon Israel’s dealing with “the Iranian and Palestinian problems”, and appears to fully understand Israel’s need to be able to defend itself against both entities, as well as by groups such as Hezbollah, who are Iranian clients. He appears to appreciate the fact that Israel is one of America’s closet allies and defense partners, and he emphasizes the term “partnership” in reference to current and future relationships between Israel and the U.S.

Dealing with ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks and Israel’s response, often referred to as a “disproportionate use of force” by many European countries, McCain repeated what he has said previously that Americans “especially in my home state of Arizona would not stand for such activity on their southern border”.

While Cain hopes that Israel will be able to reach some kind of peace agreement with Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, McCain is also realistic in the fact that as long as groups like Hamas (who are also tied to Iran) are in power, no final agreement is possible. “My personal feeling is that Israel should not talk to Hamas as they are dedicated to Israel’s extinction”, McCain said.

One thing is for sure; should McCain become America’s next president: he will not formulate policies that will be detrimental to Israel’s security interests, as he sees these interests as inseparable from America’s security interests. He sees the threat that Israel faces from Islamic radicalism, particularly from Iran, as no different than the one America faces, and that the greatest challenge he will have is how to fight this threat. With Israel on his team, he knows he has a strong ally in this part of the world.

A German In The House: Merkel in Israel

Merkel in IsraelGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel on Sunday for the start of a three day visit to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. This is Merkel’s second visit to Israel since being elected Chancellor; and one of her agendas includes addressing the Knesset on Tuesday. Appearing with Prime Minister Olmert shortly after her arrival, Merkel said that her country is strongly committed to Israel’s defense, and added that “a threat to Israel is also a threat to us”.

Merkel went on to mention that she plans to put more effort into confronting the threat that Israel faces from Iran, which many say is Israel’s greatest threat today. Merkel’s address, in German, before the Knesset on Tuesday has upset some Knesset members, as well as many Holocaust survivors still alive and living in Israel. The address will be the first by a German head of state since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 1965. Since then, Israel and Germany enjoy thriving trade relations, and victims of the Holocaust, and their families have received more than 18 billion Euros ($25 billion) in retribution payments.

Germany has tried to promote the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which has often been problematic due to continuous acts of violence between the two entities, as well as Israel’s polices dealing with settlements in what the Palestinians consider to be occupied land. The German Republic’s relations with the Hamas controlled sector of the Palestinian Authority has become even more problematic, and she has no plans to visit Gaza during her visit.

Merkel’s visit will coincide with the visit on Tuesday of U.S. Senator and Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, who is presently on a “surprise visit” to Iraq. McCain is a strong supporter to America’s continued involvement in Iraq, and even commented recently that as far as he is concerned, American troops “will stay in Iraq for even a hundred years if they need to”. McCain is also said to be a strong supporter of Israel, which probably explains his desire to come here for a firsthand look regarding the situation. Whether the two will meet while McCain is in Israel is not known.

It will be interesting to see what kind of response Merkel receives when she does address the Knesset in a language that bring back only the darkest memories to Israel’s more than 200,000 Holocaust survivors. However, as German is her native tongue, many people believe that Chancellor Merkel has the right to speak in this language during her Knesset address, and it must be noted that Israeli leaders have spoken to German government bodies in Hebrew in the past.

Gotcha! Hillary Hits Back

Hillary Rodham Clinton can definitely be called “the comeback kid” following Tuesday’s American primary contests in four states. Winning handsomely in both Ohio and Rhode Island, and squeaking by in Texas by a 3% margin. Clinton now has considerable breathing space in which to prepare for the next and perhaps most decisive contest, the Pennsylvania primary in late April.

Hillary BackAlthough her opponent, Barack Obama only won in the Vermont primary and is just slightly ahead in the Texas caucuses he still leads the overall delegate count by at least 100; and is now having to re-plan his overall strategy if he expects to win the Democratic Party nomination in July. When interviewed Wednesday morning in Austin, Hillary Clinton seemed to have regained her confidence and said that what made the difference is her overall experience as compared to Obama’s. When interviewers from CNN asked whether the recent commercial about which candidate would be able to make the right decision after receiving a 3 a.m. phone about a national security emergency, she reiterated about her past experience in such matters, including her being sent to such places as Bosnia (during their civil war) to mediate a peace agreement. She compared herself to Obama who she said “only continues to talk about a speech he made back in 2004 concerning America’s involvement in Iraq”.

I suppose that Hillary can say that she has a bit of experience, as the “red phone” did ring a few times at 3 a.m. when she was in bed with her husband Bill. She also could include her “experience” in dealing with that very uncomfortable period from November 1998 until July, 2000, when she had to deal with another kind of crises that was “a bit too close to home”.

Disregarding those unpleasant episodes, Hillary does probably have a bit more of a track record than Obama has; and whether or not this will help her to wind up making a “V” sign at the speakers podium of the convention will be determined in the coming weeks ahead.

People all over the world have been following the U.S. Presidential campaign; and these primary races have for sure been followed by those living in the Middle East and elsewhere in Islamic World. Barack Hussein Obama is no doubt the favorite of many who make up what is known as Dir Al Islam – the World Community of Islam, and these include many of America’s present enemies, such as Hamas, the Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and most certainly The Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a recent short visit to Iraq, said during a speech there that nearly everyone hates Americans. Well, he does anyway.

Jews around the world, especially in Israel, have from the start been a bit apprehensive about the possibility of Obama winning the Presidency; and what could afterwards be in store concerning America’s future relations with the Jewish State. There is really no way of knowing how Obama will deal with the Israel-Palestinian issue until he is actually sitting in the Oval Office. But in the weeks and months ahead, this matter will most certainly crop up; and it will most likely be used against Obama by both Clinton and John McCain, the Republican nominee.

This year’s contest has so far been anything but boring; and with the U.S. heading towards what may be a moderate to severe recession, the U.S. economy will be a top issue in the months ahead as well. If Hillary does manage to win over the remaining primary contests and become her party’s candidate, she’ll still need all the help she can get to beat McCain in November. And to do this, she’ll have to get real friendly again with a guy named William Jefferson Clinton, who has a bit of “experience” himself.

John McCain and Israel

While the Democratic Party Presidential candidate race still appears to be a close call, the Republican one has formed ranks around U.S. Senator John McCain from Arizona. McCain, who is a former U.S. Navy pilot and prisoner of war, Also contended for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2007, before losing to U.S. President George W. Bush. Now that McCain is the definite GOP choice for the presidency, many Jews, both in America and in Israel, wonder how the 4 term senator’s policies will be towards Israel.

McCain comes from a family of professional naval officers, and both his father and grandfather were naval admirals. His own military record, largely centered around his experiences during the Vietnam War, is exemplary with his receiving virtually every distinguished service award except the Congressional Medal of Honor. His five and half years of captivity in what became known as the “Hanoi Hilton” resulted in his having serious physical limitations, including not being able to comb his hair. This hasn’t limited his ability, nor his desire to lead his country in the capacity of Commander in Chief.

Though his official policies toward Israel are still to be unveiled, his private feelings have been expressed on several occasions, including a speech he made in St. Louis during the time of the 2006 war in Lebanon:

“My dear friends, you have probably seen our European friends say, ‘Well, the Israelis have got to stop.’ But what would we do if somebody came across our borders and killed our soldiers and captured our soldiers? Do you think we would be exercising total restraint?”

If one were to examine John McCain’s military service record, in which he flew more than 27 combat missions against the North Vietnamese, it is easy to see that he has more military experience than any U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

McCain, probably more even than President Bush, appreciates the fight against terrorism and aggression by totalitarian Middle Eastern countries that Israel has been involved in since it’s inception in 1948. His five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam, much of it involving torture that contributed to the his disabilities, also gives him great sympathy towards the families of Israeli solders who have been captured by Israel’s adversaries, including the Palestinians and the Hezbollah.. McCain is considered to be a “hawk” in regards to his feelings towards containing foreign aggression, which is another reason why he is surely an admirer of Israeli military actions against people who are also enemies of the USA.

And judging from his remarks concerning the situation in Iraq, and of course his own personal experiences as a POW, he’s not likely to have much sympathy towards organizations like Hamas or Hezbollah.

Taking these factors into account, John McCain will certainly have Israel’s strategic security problems on his agenda should he be elected president in the upcoming elections in November.

Super Tuesday for Israel

Super Tuesday 08
Picture: Salon.com
The mega American primary elections known as Super Tuesday are now over in America, and its implication is still to be seen in a Presidential race that is far from over. Many Americans living here in Israel had the chance to vote by absentee ballot. Those who didn’t should find out what needs to be done in order to vote in the main elections in November. Republican Party candidate John McCain appears to be the front runner and likely party candidate when the GOP convention convenes in August. He racked up the largest number of delegates over his rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, who fared better than many thought he would, wound up winning a number of Southern States, as well some others that might make him a “king maker” at the convention and even force McCain to give him a top cabinet post of even offer the Vice Presidency spot. That will of course depend on how Romney fares in the upcoming primaries as he has many more delegates than “Huck”.

The Democratic side is much more confusing, however, even though Hillary Clinton appears to have won more delegates, due to her winning big states like New York and California. Obama won more states in total and may fare better in upcoming primaries in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas, not to mention the District of Columbia which has a large Afro-American population. This race is likely to end up on the floor of the Democratic Party Convention this coming July, and be a real free-for-all.

What this election is gearing up to mean for Israel is how the new Presidential administration will deal with the Jewish State and with its Palestinian and other Arab neighbors. If Hillary Clinton should win the Presidency, she will probably use tactics similar to those her husband Bill used when he tried to put pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace agreement that failed miserably at the Camp David summit in July, 2000. If Barack Obama wins the Presidency, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen, especially in light of Obama’s Muslim influenced childhood; an issue that is still not definitely settled in the eyes of many Americans and Israelis.

As for Republican candidate McCain, his politics seem to fluctuate for ultra conservative to moderate. He has definite ideas concerning America’s Iraq involvement, and has even said that he would keep American troops in Iraq “for a hundred years if necessary”. That’s a bit different than either Hillary or Obama, both of whom favor eventual troop withdrawals. McCain might be a safer bet concerning America’s stand against Iran, though, as his military background makes him understand this kind of a problem more than his Democratic (and Republican) rivals.

Both political parties and their candidates need to understand a few basic points though. The situation in Iraq will not go away on its own, and Al Qaeda and its top leaders are still active and ready to have a go at America again. Iran and its proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas are also ready and waiting for the right opportunities, as we here in Israel are acutely aware of. And a worsening of the American economy will be bad for everyone, especially here in Israel.

So as the race heats up in the U.S. elections, all we in Israel can do is hope that the “flack” from it won’t come down too hard on our heads – literally!

Bush’s Visit and Presidential Primaries

Victories in the New Hampshire presidential primary by Republican Senator John McCain, and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton appear the have little correlation with President George Bush‘s visit to Israel today and several other Middle Eastern countries. McCain, who is usually depicted as a bit of a hawk, won comfortably over his closest rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; while Clinton, barely got by her closest rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. While it’s still too early to tell who will wind up as their party’s official nominee, the next few weeks will definitely tell which way the political winds are blowing for hopefuls in both major political parties.

As for Bush, in what will most likely be his last major visit to the this part of the world, he really doesn’t have to worry what happens to anyone representing his political party, the Republicans, as most of the people running are not depending on his support anyway. That means that Mr. Bush can concentrate of trying to realize some of his plans concerning implementing a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as making sure that oil rich countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia remain under America’s sphere of influence in order to keep that increasingly expensive commodity, oil, flowing into American refineries, and hence into American SUV’s.

Iran, especially after their aborted attempt to create an international incident with American naval vessels in the Straits of Hormuz, is another factor that Bush will have to deal with until he leaves office on January 20, 2009. Concerning who will be replacing him, all the outgoing president can do is to wish his successor will, whoever that person may be.

Perhaps that’s what is good about being an outgoing two term president. He is not really what is known as a “lame duck” as he is not under any serious political cloud such as an incumbent president is when losing a re-election bid. His vice president, Dick Cheney, is too old and too sick to run for the office, and Bush himself doesn’t appear, at this point in time anyway, to be personally indorsing any of his party’s candidates, including John McCain.

Bush’s main “cloud” if one wants to call it that is the matter of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath; which will be a main concern for his replacement, especially if he (or she) is a Democrat. Other issues, including the ongoing War on Terror and the current goings-on the Middle East (the focus of his current Middle East visit) will also carry over to his successor as no major breakthroughs will probably come to pass this year. And this is despite assurances by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and P.A. Authority President Abbas that there might be some encouraging steps made towards a final peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Other problems including global warming, a possible U.S. recession, Pakistan’s current sate of flux, and Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Ladin and Ayman al Zawahiri still presumed to be alive and kicking will be left to whoever is sitting in the Oval Office next January 21.

As for Bush, it will be back to Texas barbeques and Lone Star Beer, or whatever tickles his fancy.

Will Bush’s Visit Save Olmert Politically?

Bush In IsraelU.S. President George Bush’s first official visit to Israel is only days away, but many political analysts are already speculating on whether the President’s two day visit will result an any improvements in the current state of relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Coming virtually at the same time as the outcome of the New Hampshire presidential primary, Bush’s visit will probably not have an influence on the political chances of any of the Republican candidates, including present front runner Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa Caucuses over other hopefuls Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rudolf Giuliani.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is also hopeful that the President’s visit will result in some kind of break-though in the current situation which not only has resulted in Palestinian fired rockets reaching the city of Ashkelon, but new acts of terror by members of the Palestinian Fatah organization that Olmert is trying to win over in an alliance against the Hamas controlled Gaza strip.

Bush, shown with both Olmert and Abbas at the recent Annapolis Summit is himself more or less in a “lame duck” political situation in which members of his own political party are trying to distance themselves from his foreign and domestic policies, including those running for public office. In addition to meeting with Israeli government personalities, Bush will also meet with P.A. President Mahmud Abbas and members of his government in a specially arranged meeting in Jericho. Hamas leader and “former” P.A. Prime Minister Ismail Haneyah will not be on the President’s agenda, for obvious reasons.

One thing for sure, however, is that the Bush visit will send a strong message to Iran concerning the President’s feelings about that country’s nuclear program, despite the recent NIE report that the Islamic Republic abandoned it’s nuclear weapons development program in 2003. The President’s visit will help reassure both the IDF and the Israeli government that President Bush still believes that Iran continues to pursue its goal to become a nuclear power.

The big question concerning this topic will be what will happen when Bush leaves office in January, 2009.

Bush will probably try to persuade Olmert to make some kind of concessions with Abbas, including the dismantling of some outpost and “fringe” settlements as a prelude to more serious disengagements that are being planned in the coming months as part of the agreements between Olmert and Abbas at the Middle East Summit in Annapolis Maryland. The only problem from that conference was that most, if not all, of the agreements appeared to have come only from Mr. Olmert and not from Mr. Abbas.

Outside of causing a nerve wracking traffic tie up in much of central Jerusalem during the President’s visit, the prospects of any real breakthroughs being made is a bit doubtful and all that will probably transpire will be a lot of media publicized hand shaking and dinner speeches. Bush will at least see for himself what he has only seen previously in video clips such as parts of the “security wall” in Jerusalem as well as the usual diplomatic sites such as the Yad Vashem Holocaust exhibit and museum and the Kotel or Western Wall in the Old City. Aside from a short visit to Jericho, the remainder of Bush’s visit will be either within the King David Hotel or at the Knesset, where the President is most likely scheduled to address members of Israel’s parliament.

Olmert, who recently has expressed his wishes that former and now comatose P.M. Ariel Sharon was able to assist in solving the country’s political and security problems, will not gain much from Bush’s visit, especially with the chances of a U.S. Democratic Party Presidential administration more possible than ever. What many people in Israel are currently wishing is that a new Israeli government administration will soon be elected to replace the one so ineptly administered by Mr. Olmert and his Kadima Party cronies. That hope is at least as strong as many Americans have regarding replacing the current Republican Party led one in Washington, led by the guy who will disembarking from Air Force One at Ben Gurion Airport this coming Wednesday.

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