A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 22, 2007 Israel Ponders Help it Can Provide Abbas
Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak will meet on Sunday to finalize what Israel can do for the Palestinian Chairman Abbas' government. Money will not be a problem, while everything else will be a challenge. There is more and more talk about releasing prisoners and even talk about releasing Barghouti. The question will remain, is this too little too late? Time will tell. Abbas seems to have finally gained backbone, and seems ready to fight Hamas on every level. In addition, he also seems ready to reform Fatah, and today fired his security chief.
Is it again too little too late? Since the two questions are tied together we will have to wait to see.
It was announced this week that President Bush agreed to increase the military aid to Israel. A few lone voices in Israel this week questioned if this is a good idea. There are some very cogent arguments to be made for reducing the aid instead of increasing it.
Those arguments include whether Israel should become even more dependent on the US.
Is it right that a country that is succeeding economically accept such a high percentage of American foreign aid? Israel has trade surplus and the US has a deficit.
In addition, since the aid has to be spent in the US, many things that could be made better in Israel end up having to be purchased from the US. Thus, Israel does not get to develop unique technologies to the degree they could. Sometimes, as was the case of the Israeli developed Lavi fighter, pressure applied on behalf of US defense industries could get an Israeli project cancelled. Finally, that same pressure can limit the exports of Israeli made products.
On the flip side- can Israel afford to replace the money? ItŐs 4% of IsraelŐs budget.
A new poll of Israelis shows that while Olmert's popularity is not rising, most of the country is happy to have Barak as Defense Minister. When asked are you happy with the job that Prime Minister
Olmert is doing... 14% said yes... while 70% said no. When asked if
they were happy that Barak was now Defense Minister... 53% said yes while 34% said no.