Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Peres' Coup

Moshe Dann
FrontPageMagazine.com | 10/7/2008

According to Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriella Shalev, “Security Council discussions are irrelevant and pointless. The real things are taking place two floors below us in a bilateral meeting between Abbas and (Israeli president) Shimon Peres.”

Spokeswoman for the President's office, Ayelet Frisch, confirmed that substantial meetings between the two leaders have been taking place, including details concerning the "peace process," apparently with the approval of the Prime and Foreign ministers.

There's only one problem: such negotiations are clearly not within the designated powers of Israeli presidents. Elected by the Knesset, not the public and limited mainly to ceremonial functions, Israeli presidents are supposed to be above politics – certainly not identified with any single group. Rarely have past presidents engaged in politics; a notable exception was Ezer Weitzman's support of the "Oslo peace process," and other controversial issues.

Peres's pursuit of his own personal agenda, therefore violates terms of office. Although not illegal, negotiating on behalf of an unpopular minority government undermines the concept of impartiality upon which the President's office is founded.

Presidential powers include choosing Knesset members to form governments. Designating Tzippy Livni, previously Foreign Minister and currently head of Kadima – his own party, btw -- following Ehud Olmert's resignation, as acting Prime Minister and allowing an extended period in which to form a coalition – despite overwhelming popular support for general elections, suggests blatant political motives.

Hoping to stave off what all polls confirm – a sweeping victory for the opposition, led by Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, Shimon Peres has turned the Presidency into a political tool.

Representing Israel 's highest moral, intellectual, and spiritual values as a country and society, the president also has the power to pardon criminals and commute sentences.

All other presidents have used the Jewish New Year as an opportunity to express the most cherished of Jewish values, mercy. The President's signature is required on the release of Arab terrorists and criminals held by Israel. A few weeks ago, Sami Kuntar, one of the most notorious murderers, was released to Lebanon. Two hundred other criminals, including killers were also freed.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands more are slated to be freed.

Asked if President Peres will be pardoning or commuting the sentences of any Jewish prisoners – especially those who were given harsh sentences for political reasons – none of whom were convicted of violent crimes – the President's spokeswoman said tersely, "No.The President has no plans at this time."

Asked why, she added, "No comment."

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