Major Events in Israel and the Middle East
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
Perceptions on Both Sides of the Atlantic-
Sunday May 6, 2007
Today was a day of contrasts. On 5th Ave, in New York City, the annual Salute to Israel Parade took place. The parade followed its usual formulistic pattern, unchanged, in the last 30 years. Support for Israel was readily evident among the tens of thousands who turned out to march or view as spectators on this beautiful spring day. As we walked, I wondered...what percentage of these well-wishers have even the slightest idea of the intensely complicated situation Israel finds herself in today? My sense is that the number of those knowledgable is quite small.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the situation continues to become ever more complex... even hard to fathom. Today, Foreign Minister Livni and Prime Minister Olmert made believe that they would continue working together. Yet, their body language definitively showed the contempt they feel for one another. Some commentators say that Olmert outmaneuvered Livni. Others commentators believe Livni is just biding her time, working quietly to oust Olmert. Today, Barak made it clear that he will not enter into a government headed by Olmert, if he (Barak) is elected to head the labor party. The remaining days of the Olmert government are clearly numbered. Once, either Barak or Ayalon are elected to head the Labor government they will present an ultimatum- either Olmert goes or they withdraw from the coalition and force new elections. Under these conditions, I think Kadima will take the necessary action and oust Olmert.
Meanwhile the "Mecca Agreements" between Hamas and Fatah have completely fallen apart, as fighting resumes between the two sides in Gaza. The rejection of the American demands by the Hamas for an end of violence, in return for Israeli removal of many of the checkpoints, totally undermines any legitimacy for Fatah. In the short term it simplifies the Israeli government's position. Israel was not happy with the American demands. However, America's demands on Israel become quite mute if Hamas rejects them first. For the short term, this makes life a bit more easy for Israel. The real question is where this process leads in the long-term?
The election of Nocolas Sarkozy, in France, may be a positive development for Israel and Jews. When Sarkozy spoke, accepting the presidentional nomination Sarkozy stated he had decided to run for office after visiting Yad Vashem. While visiting Yad Vashem Sarkozy realized that only through political action could he insure that the Holocaust could never happen again.