January 17, 2010 Israel and Haiti, Israel and Turkey, US and Iran

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 26, 2010 Netanyahu, Egypt Blames Iran, Shas and Israeli Beitenu

To say that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a man of contradictions, is an understatement. Netanyahu first made his name when he served as Israel’s Ambassador to UN. He became Israel's most effective advocate, since Abba Eban, and made his name as a great spokesman for Israel. And yet on Sunday, after meeting with George Mitchell talking about Israel’s willingness to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Netanyahu could not resist the impulse to visit various West Banks sites (all in what will become the settlement bloc if Israel reaches an agreement with the Palestinians). His visit, of course became the lead story out of the Middle East yesterday, showing off Netnayahu as being the obstructionist. This masked the important news of the day; news of Egyptian President Mubarak's speech yesterday. In that speech Mubarak spoke about the reasons Egypt was building a fence between Sinai and the Gaza Strip. Mubarak spoke about the reasons there is not peace in the Middle East- not mentioning Israel's positions, in fact, claiming that it is Iran’s meddling that has stopped any chance of Middle East peace from occurring.

Simultaneously, Abbas has been claiming he can not enter peace talks until Israel stops all settlement activity. However, I watched excerpts of the religious sermon given by the Minister of Religion during the weekly Friday services at the Palestinian Authority headquarters. The Minister stated that a Palestinian state had never been closer- what was holding it back was Iranian meddling. The Minister continued further, that if the Iranians had not meddled, there could have been a Palestinian state already. I suggest that Netanyhu just stop making meaningless gestures that slightly strengthen his domestic standing, and let the Egyptians and Palestinians point the finger in the right direction.

The Netanyahu coalition is not as strong as it would seem. Shas and Israel Beitenu are clearly at war with each other. Yisrael Beitenu’s major constituency are Russian immigrants-- and the biggest problems the Russians face, are connected to difficulties in converting or marrying. Every effort Yisrael Beitunu has taken to improve their situation has been blocked by Shas. To aggravate matters, PM Netanyahu has not intervened on behalf of Yisrael Beitenu. Yisrael Beitenu has responded by blocking one of Netanyahu’s most favored pieces of legislation- a bill to allow Israelis abroad vote. Netanyhu is convinced that Israelis abroad are mostly right of center and I think he is correct. Shas does not like Netanyahu’s law either, since it only allows Israelis who served in the army to register to vote.

Meanwhile, the Shas Minister of Interior was blocked from visiting the town of Charish, in the Galilee. Shas is trying to build a Charedi town that would take over Charish and a surrounding village, neither of which is religious.

Finally, the Israeli Ministry of Education has announced that Chinese would now be offered as language/ matriculation option in Israeli high schools.

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