A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
December 27, 2007 Bhutto Assasinated-Olmert and Abbas Meet
Today was an unusual day for Israeli media; it was one of those few days when foreign news dominated the broadcast. The main story was, of course, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto; an assassination that could have long lasting effects. Pakistan is the 6th most populous nation on earth and the second most populous Muslim nation after Indonesia. It is also the one Muslim nation that currently has nuclear weapons, and it is also the country where Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding. Bhutto’s assassination dashed hopes of bringing stability to Pakistan. It was hoped Bhutto’s party would win next week’s elections, (she was polling at 63% at a recent poll) and that would pave the way for her to become Prime Minister once again. Instead, it is now clear Muslim extremist have destroyed that hope. Obviously, the Pakistani government did not do enough to protect her. What will be the long-term effect of today’s events, like so much else at the moment it’s hard to foresee. Clearly Muslim extremists living in Pakistan have been trying to bring down the government and bring about a takeover. It may be easier to accomplish a takeover facing a dictatorship than fighting against a democracy. On the other hand, there really is not much historic proof of that. It is unlikely Musharaf will lose his will to do what is needed to stay in power, as the Shah did. In any case, the US learned its lesson from that mistake. Bhutto’s untimely death is without a doubt is a personal and national tragedy. Bhutto was clearly a woman of personal courage who might have united Pakistan, and now that life has been snuffed out.
Meanwhile, back in Israel, Olmert and Abbas met today. It is said they actually made progress on the issues of continued building in the West Bank. Olmert promised that no additions will be made to existing settlements, and no Arab land will be confiscated during the period of negotiations. Working groups are yet to be put in place to begin negotiating final status issues. The government has found itself in a dilemma at the moment. Olmert has made it clear he wants to reach an agreement. However, the fear is that if Israel puts forth its positions it will find itself negotiating with itself. The Palestinians will not make any concessions... and even if they would, they would disavow the agreed upon concessions later.
In the meantime, the appears to be actual progress seems being made on negotiating the release of Gilad Shalit. 64% of Israelis support releasing terrorist with “blood on the hands” in return for Shalit. Olmert hopes to close a deal within a month.