Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Yet Again"

Arlene Kushner

There was a terrorist attack about 11 PM last night. An Arab, Kasem Mugrabi, 19, from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber ran his BMW up onto the sidewalk into a crowd of people, at Kikar Tzahal, a square near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. He injured at least 15 people, mostly soldiers, and was promptly shot dead by an off-duty IDF officer. Thank G-d, no one was killed, although three were injured seriously enough to require surgery and 13 are still in the hospital.

Jebl Mukaber, which is not a poor neighborhood, is where the infamous Yeshivat HaRav terrorist came from. It is in south eastern Jerusalem near the Jewish neighborhood of Talpiot.

This is the third attack in Jerusalem in three months involving Jerusalem Arabs who used vehicles as weapons. The last two times it was tractors/bulldozers, and there was talk about security checks before Arabs could use heavy construction equipment. But this time a car was used.

Now, once again, there is talk about methods of deterrence, such as the speedy razing of the homes of terrorists from Jerusalem. Potential terrorists, it is said, must know their families will pay a serious price after the fact.


It should come as no surprise to any of us how quickly matters appear to shift in the world of politics. I say "appear" because we're getting what the politicians say publicly and what the media report -- not necessarily what's going on behind this.

On Sunday I reported that Barak had met with Netanyahu and there was allegedly discussion of a national emergency government (which would have come together after an election), with Barak aides saying that Barak might prefer this to joining a Livni coalition.

But this was before Livni saw the light, and, instead of simply saying the current coalition should continue as it has been (no need for change as long as Olmert is gone), she began to seriously court various members of the current coalition. She has offered Barak a "partnership," though I cannot tell you what this really means.


Now begins the horse-trading, the political blackmail, at which Shas, in particular, excels: You want us in your coalition, this is what you must give us. Shas right now is saying that if Livni removes the current finance minister, Bar-On, who has blocked increased child allowances, the chances of their joining are greater. (Shas represents religious Sephardim with large families.) Do not ask me what happened with regard to Shas insistence that there be a promise of no future negotiations on Jerusalem -- something Livni cannot honestly promise.

This is coalition politics, in a situation in which no one party has enough seats to establish a government by itself. It has, sadly, very little to do with what is good for the nation, and a good deal to do with what is good for particular parties and persons. For anyone accustomed to the American system this is difficult.

At this point, I am assuming that what is involved is not simply deals Livni will seek to strike with various parties, but unofficial promises Netanyahu will make to parties to entice them not to join the Livni coalition -- based, of course, on the expectation that he would win the election that would ensue.

All the cheap talk about doing what is good for the nation...

Right now we desperately need genuine leaders who will work for the good of the nation.


Livni's responsibility in forming that coalition is now official, by the way. President Peres met with a delegation from each faction, which had an opportunity to recommend who should try to form the government, and then appointed Livni. This, it should be noted, was not because she was resoundingly supported by various factions, but sort of by default.

One of the first things she did was call for a unity government that would include Likud. Netanyahu isn't interested, because he's hoping for an election that he will win outright. Sharing power with Livni and Barak does not appeal to him particularly.

Will she be able to form a coalition? It wouldn't be easy, but it's impossible at this juncture to say for certain that she won't. One of the serious questions being asked is how stable it would be -- she might cobble together enough seats to govern, only to have one or more parties bolt not far down the road. She has a month.


Meanwhile a petition has been filed with an internal Kadima court on behalf of Ze'ev Elkin, a strong Mofaz supporter, asking that alleged irregularities in the primary polling be investigated. Another group of Mofaz supporters filed a separate petition. Charging that there were irregularities in 80 polling places, out of 114, they are vowing to take this all the way to the High Court if the results are not overturned.

Do I think they may have a very legitimate grievance. Yes. Do I expect the petition to succeed? No. I'll be happy to say I was wrong if it does.

see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info.

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