Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 25, 2009--Israel- Gaza A Week After the War Ended

The war between Israel and Hamas ended a week ago and both sides are attempting to get things back to normal. In Israel the election campaign is beginning, as Israelis are going to vote on February 10th, and Hamas is trying to show that it is very much in control in Gaza.

Today Hamas announced that it was offering reparations for damage caused by the war. The organization will give 1000 Euros for those who died, 500 Euros for those wounded, 2,000 Euros for partially destroyed homes and 4,000 for fully destroyed homes. It is not at all clear how Hamas will receive the funds necessary for this project since so far everyone is claiming that they will only give money to the Palestinian Authority, i.e. Fatah. An incident that took place today sheds a little light on whether Israel established any level of deterrent from the war. There was a rumor that a Grad had been fired from Gaza and then two Israeli war planes flew over the Strip. Immediately word went out to all members of Hamas to leave their posts and many discarded their uniforms. The rumor was that the ceasefire had ended. Two hours later Hamas broadcasted a message that all was clear and fighters started returning to their posts. Negotiations have been taking place between Hamas and Egypt. Hamas has hardened its position since the ceasefire began. For the moment, Egypt is not accepting that. The Egyptians stated on television that the Rafah crossing can open tomorrow since the only thing required for that to happen is to allow the Palestinian Authority the ability to govern in Gaza, as opposed to the "band of thugs" [Hamas]. In an interview with a local newspaper today, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal stated that the fight between Iran and Egypt was basic and serious and that it is about the very essence of the Arab state.

There has been some talk about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah in regards to a solution of who is to control the crossings. However, the situation has worsened, with Hamas killing a large number of Fatah members during the war and injuring many others. While somewhat surprising, a demonstration was held today in Jenin against Hamas and thousands attended.

Minister of Defense Barak reported in today's cabinet meeting that Egypt is doing more to try to stop the flow of arms into Gaza.

Al Qaeda launched an unprecedented attack on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah today. They attacked him for encouraging Hamas to attack Israel and then not doing anything to help. They asked how claims to have 20,000 rockets that could hit Israel and then not assist the Palestinians.

The election campaign is finally beginning in Israel after an almost four week hiatus. On Tuesday election commercials begin. The commercials are unlike elections commercial in the US where they come at normal commercial breaks. Instead in Israel television networks devote an hour a night to airing the commercials consecutively. Can you image sitting through an hour of commercials?

Kadima is aiming their commercials at voters deciding between Netanyahu and Livni. The basic thrust is that Netanyahu created a great deal of friction with the Clinton administration and he would be worse with the Obama administration. By looking at that period, one can definitely say that Kadima is correct about Netanyahu. Members of the Clinton team originally felt Netanyahu that could be trusted, but said Netanyahu changed his positions and they did not like dealing with him at all.

With Senator Mitchell due to arrive this week in the region, Israeli commentators have been reflecting on what to expect. The general consensus is that the US administration does not fool itself into thinking that the time is right for an overall settlement, but what it will want to do is strengthen Abu Mazen. A way to do that will be to force Israel to do something about the illegal settlements well as reining in settlement growth.

The economic situation in Israel is worsening with that of the rest of the world. The Bank of Israel announced today that the country would have negative growth this year. Predictions call for unemployment to reach 8.5% by the end of 2009. Many of those losing their jobs so far have been those in the high tech fields.

There were two interesting article in today NYT, the first by Thomas Freidman- This is Not a Test- I cannot find much fault in what he has written. The second is an interesting article in the Week in Review by Ethan Bronner called The Bullets in my In-Box it's an introspective piece that looks at how hard it is to cover a conflict whose narratives are so different depending on the side.