Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

March 12, 2009--Katsav Gives Pathetic Speech, Neogtiations Down to the Wire Over Shalit

The news today in Israel was dominated by a pathetic speech that was given by former President Katzav. The first part of the speech, nearly an hour long, was carried live on all of Israel's television channels, after which they finally broke away. Katzav is being accused of rape. Over the course of the investigation, 11 women have complained about being harassed by him. Katzav spent almost an hour and a half attacking the press, the Attorney General, and the police for persecuting him. He claimed he did not wrong, and on and on he went, accusing everyone but himself.

Negotiations continued in Egypt on the prisoner exchange plan to release Gilad Shalit. Israeli analysts were wildly divided as to whether any progress is being made. One correspondent felt that an agreement is very near, while a second said that there was not chance, since no one is being flexible. The clock is ticking. I am not sure if Prime Minister Olmert's government could go ahead and approve it without those opposing successfully appealing to supreme court claiming that an interim government on its last days does not have the power to make such a decision.

Coalition talks continued today with MK Lieberman agreeing to let Minister of Justice Friedman be replaced by Yuval Ne'eman. Ne'eman has promised to continue the same policies of Freidman, but he does not come with the same personal baggage as Friedman. In the meantime, Minister of Defense Barak has continued to secretly negotiate with MK Netanyahu. Members of Labor have publicly warned Barak that if he tries to enter the government they will try to throw off his perch as head of the party. 

The New York Times today ran a front piece story on the decision of Charles Freeman to withdraw from nomination of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman claimed that it was a conspiracy of the pro Israel lobby to squash dissent. Why the New York Times decided that a story that broke on Tuesday was worthy of the front page is beyond me. The Washington Post had a good editorial on the story today called Blame the Lobby.