Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

July 27, 2008- Fatah Hamas, Pessimistic Outlook on Gaza

Tension has risen again between Hamas and Fatah, after a major explosion in Gaza over Shabbat killed four ranking Hamas members. Hamas has blamed Fatah for the bombing. Fatah denies any responsibility. Hamas has been arresting Fatah members in Gaza. Fatah has been retaliating by arresting Hamas members in the West Bank. The fact the bombing was covered on Palestinian TV, with a song in homage to Arafat in the background might have been a hint. Israeli observers question whether there is indeed a significant underground.

At the Israeli cabinet meeting the head of the Shin Bet gave a very pessimistic presentation. He stated that the Egyptians have not done anything special to stop smuggling. As a result, 400 tons of explosives have been smuggled into Gaza. Diskin claimed the ceasefire, which he opposed, would not hold. Prime Minister Olmert, who ultimately is the one responsible for the agreement, is reported to have said, “in five years we will ask how we allowed what developed in Gaza to develop”. A very strange statement, coming from the man in charge. The one person fully in favor of the agreement in Gaza remains Defense Minister Barak, who states we have too many other challenges and this ceasefire is good for Israel.

Diskin also gave a pessimistic report on the status of Arab Jerusalem. According to Dskin, the outlying villages that are within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries are coming increasingly under the influence of Hamas and other Muslim fundamentalists. Diskin further warns that a power vacuum exists in these areas, which are out of the control of the IDF and that this situation is likely to worsen. The Knesset passed one of its worst laws this past week. The new law requires the government to fund Yeshivot on the High school level, even if they do not teach any secular subjects. This issue has been argued for many years, with the Yeshivot not teaching any secular subjects and the government continuing to fund them, in violation of the law. So instead of enforcing the law and insisting that if these High Schools are to get government funding they must teach a minimum of amount of math, science, and civics… the Knesset just changed the law. So now, the state can continue to fund the education of people who will be unequipped to be productive workers in society, so that the state will need to support these individuals for the rest of their lives. A great plan.

Most of the Israeli papers this weekend were dominated by the same major story … The investigations into Olmert. A number of columnists questioned how we got to this point? One view, with which I have always agreed, is that the Likud never developed an idealistic governing elite. The Labor party was filled with ideologues and idealists who believed that the needs of the state and sometimes the needs of party came first, but almost never the needs individual. The early leaders of Likud, like Begin and Shamir were cut from the same cloth. However, to our misfortune, the vast majority of Likud activists were largely in it for themselves. Of course to be fair, we must acknowledge the second problem, and a source of continued wide-range of problems (including the reason the governments of Israel continuously give in to the religious) is the broken political system. Israel’s political system has clearly been broken since the 1970’s, when the Dash party was a flash in the pan success, running on the theme of political change. Yet, despite the almost fatal flaws in the Israeli political system it has managed to maintain itself all of these years.