Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

June 13, 2007 Peres Elected President

It was a very strange day in Israel today. The first part of the news was devoted to the election of Shimon Peres to be the 9th President of Israel, and the election of Ehud Barak to be the Chairman of the Labor Party. Then Ehud Ya’ari came on the newscast and stated if this could only be the end of the news, then it would be a good day, but reality has to intrude. Ya’ari discussed a bomb blast in Beirut that killed an anti Syrian member of parliament and claimed that clearly the Syrians are continuing their efforts at toppling the Lebanese government. Ya’ari then went on to examine the latest news from Gaza. The situation there is that Hamas has almost completed its takeover of Gaza, with Fatah troops surrendering.

Let's start with the good news. It is good to have a President who the country can feel proud about, and it was nice to see that finally instead of showing no respect for someone who has worked so hard and done so much for Israel, the Knesset has given him the ultimate honor, that off being President. With his election, for the first time since 1959 Peres will not be a member of Knesset. In his speech after his elections, he started off by giving thank to David Ben Gurion, his mentor, his partner, Yitzhak Rabin and his friend who he wished better health, Ariel Sharon. The election was a setback to the Likud who had worked to elect MK Reuven Rivlin as President. In an elegant move, Rivlin withdrew after only getting 34 votes in the first round, and announced his support of Peres moments after MK Collete Avital from Labor did the same.

The morning after Barak’s victory, people are questioning what type of Minister of Defense he will be, and what will a government with Barak in it look like. Has Barak learned the lessons from his first time as Prime Minister? No one has real answers to the questions, and people do not change. Nobody questions how bright Barak is and as many observers think that while he may not be able to change his fundamental characteristics, he has learned from many of his mistakes. As Minister of National Infrastructure Binyamin Ben Eliezer, a long time confidante of Barak, said in an interview on London and Kirshenbaum, when Barak became prime minister the first time, he was the golden boy who could do no wrong. Now he knows that he starting with very little public credit and he is going to have to prove himself.

What are the implications of having the Hamas control the Gaza Strip? It is very hard to fully anticipate. How does day to day coordination with Hamas take place? How do you provide electricity and food to people who will not negotiate with you? Too many Palestinians said that the events of the last few days mark the end of Palestinian dream of independent nationhood. Who is going to give independence to a people who execute their own people in the most brutal matter? Even the group Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas and Fatah for war crimes today. What Hamas plans to do with Gaza now that it has it is unclear. What Iran, who seems to be behind Hamas these days, is planning is even more uncertain.