Monday, November 21, 2005


Sharon's new party

So I'm still trying to figure out how Sharon leaving the Likud is going to play out. Obviously, it hurts the Likud. I mean, when the incumbent prime minister quits your party, that's not a good thing. And Sharon has taken 14 Likud MKs with him, which means he gets some Likud money for his "National Responsibility" party -- another blow to Likud.

But Likud is not disappearing. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Benjamin Netanyahu will vie for the leadership. Bibi is a fanatic, but he is a former prime minister of Israel. That ain't nothing. And Shaul Mofaz, the Likud defense minister who Sharon would like to come join his new party, it seems will throw his hat into the ring for the leadership of Likud.

And although Yossi Beilin thinks this is a victory for the "peace camp" (whatever that means these days in Israel), that doesn't seem to be the case. It remains to be seen how Labor will do under the leadership fo Amir Peretz, but I would guess that the two most powerful parties will be the Likud (the incumbent party) and Sharon's new party (the party of the incumbent prime minister). This appears to be a shift to the right (in theory if not practice).

I think it's quite possible the big loser here will be Shinui. Shinui presented itself as the "moderate" or "concervative" option to those folks who thought that Labor was either ideologically bankrupt or too far to the left but didn't want to get into bed with the religious far-right.

Or it could be that Labor keeps slipping. Either way, any true peace camp remains totally marginalized. Somehow Beilin still gets his name in the paper, despite his belief that Sharon and the 14 Likud MKs are part of the "peace camp." What a joke.

Oh, and speaking of people you're tired of hearing from or about, the Washington Post hints that Peres may soon join Sharon's party. However, Ha'aretz reports that the word from Peres's camp is that he's going to stick with Labor (for now).

In other news, every public school student in Israel today will spend an hour learning about Jonathan Pollard.
Today, for the first time since he was incarcerated over 20 years ago for spying for Israel, a local government authority is seeking to express what it sees as the broad public support here for "Pollard's contribution to the State of Israel."

In accordance with a directive by Education Minister Limor Livnat, all schools will spend one hour tomorrow learning about Pollard's case. Teachers will recall the events leading to his imprisonment in the United States, and they have been instructed to discuss the obligations of Israel toward him with their students.
Ugh. It's good to know that your closest allies can celebrate somebody imprisoned for spying against you! That's what friends are for, right?

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