A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 15, 2007 Gaza a Day After- Barak Defense Minister
It is Gaza or Hamastan the day after. Some commentators are trying to find the silver lining of events. Some argue that now Israel knows who runs Gaza, while others state that Israel wanted to separate the Fatah from Hamas and now it is done. Perhaps there is some slim silver lining, but Israel has always known who Hamas is, and since they won the elections, they know who is responsible. Unfortunately, Israel did not know until now is how weak Fatah was.
Now that Israel knows, it is hard to find anything to be optimistic about. It is clear that Hamas can not take over in the West Bank now, roads are still controlled by the IDF and they patrol some of the cities. The very restrictions that the Palestinians have been complaining about will keep the Hamas from gaining control.
The United States and others have suggested that Israel needs to strengthen Palestinian Chairman Abbas. As one of the regular readers of this column in Israel commented this morning, the only thing that makes Israel's government look good is how pathetic Abbas has been. Does anyone actually believe that Abbas can do anything? If Israel would like to take a risky but possibly effective strategy, they should consider releasing Maroun Barghouti from jail and having him appointed Palestinian Prime Minister. It would be very risky and I am not sure it's a good idea, but it at least would have some chance of working as opposed to a policy that is doomed to failure.
Regarding Israeli politics, one good thing happened today: Minister of Defense Amir Peretz was fired and the government approved Ehud Barak's appointment to assume the job as of Monday, after the Knesset can approve it. Israel Channel 10 Television's political correspondent, Avi Druker, stated that it was a bad political move for Barak since it was disrespectful to Peretz and he did not become involved in any negotiations or conditions. I am not sure about the political consequences, though I question if Druker is right, but I think Barak and Olmert's thinking was correct, with the situation deteriorating, Israel needs to have an experienced hand in charge of the Ministry of Defense immediately. Most Israelis will be sleep better tonight knowing that by Monday night Barak will be in charge of defense.
On a positive and surprising piece of news, a survey of Israelis was published this week. According to the survey 84% of Israelis are happy with their lives. 54% said that their lives will get better over the next year.