A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
July 4 , 2007 Cabinet Shuffle/BBC report Johnson Freed
Prime Minister Olmert's new appointments to the cabinet are now official. The Minister of Internal Affairs has now become the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Housing and Constructions has now become the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Immigrant Absorption has now become the Minister of Housing and Construction, the Minister of Tourism becomes the Minister of Immigrant Absorption, the Minister responsible for coordination between the Knesset and the Government has become the Minister of Development of the Negev and Galil, and somebody new has become the Minister responsible for relations between the Knesset and government. When the anchor on Israel’s evening news asked the political correspondent how these people are supposed to do their new jobs, he jocularly answered, "what does that have to do with anything, the most important thing is to keep everyone happy". Oh I forgot to mention MK Haim Ramon, who was the Minister of Justice and has been convicted of sexual indecency and has recently finished his community service, has agreed to become the Vice Prime Minister.
The release of the BBC reporter Alan Johnson gave a boost to the Hamas government. The Hamas made a major show of showing how they managed to free him from the Army of Islam that was holding him. Fatah representatives in the West Bank claim that it was all a big show and had all been set up in advance with Hamas bribing Johnson's holders. The question in Israel is what does this mean for Gilad Shalit? Johnson’s captors claimed today that they no longer hold Shalit- that they gave him up to Hamas. Hamas is denying that claim.
Much of Israel is discussing the Katsav plea agreement- which still seems to be up in the air, especially after Katsav gave an interview last night on Israeli television where he once again claimed it was all a witch hunt, taking no responsibility for his actions. Two other cases were adjudicated today in Israel. In both cases the accused received 5 years in jail. In the first, a soldier on leave drove recklessly fast and went through a red light. In the ensuing accident three of his friends died. In the other, a street fight took place and the defendant stabbed a rival to death. The convicted soldier will begin his sentence in a month, after completing his army service. Something seems out of proportion.
There was a piece on Israeli television on how hotels are now charging religious guests another days room if they want to check out after Shabbat. The spokesman for the hotel chains, which include the Hilton and Dan, claim everyone has always known that check out is midday. Two comments from personal experience: that never was the case in Israel. Second in the US, my experience has been that often the hotels will accommodate the problem. In the worse case I have had hotels charge for an extra half day when Shabbat is out very late. Never have they asked for an extra day. Now that the Israeli hotels are full again they feel that anything goes. Chutzpah. And people wonder why Israelis prefer to take vacations abroad.