Wednesday, March 29, 2006

When I read that a senior Kadimah official said "Arik, mission accomplished!" I thought "The mission must have been to humiliate and crush the Likud." Few Israelis shed tears - and many more must have felt a certain satisfaction - when a defeated and disgraced Bibi Nethanyahu appeared before a small number of supporters, shooting in all possible directions without really taking responsibility. Every commentator mentioned Silvain Shalom and Limor Livnat when they named the prominent Likud members who were missing on stage, but I noticed in particular that David Levy ( is this the final end to his political career, or will he adopt Kadimah as his political 'home'? ) and Bibi's wife Sarah were absent. I admit, the election results were not as bad as they could have been ( a rightwing majority was possible, even though the Right is utterly divided) but they are certainly not a clear victory for the Center-Left that supposedly will form the basis for the new government. A disengagement-II will be very, very difficult to implement. O.k. those who voted for the two biggest parties clearly want us out of ( most of ) the Westbank, but these two have only 48 seats together. Meretz has only four MKs ( and definitely prefers negotiations to unilateral steps ), Shas and Thorah Judaism voted against the Gaza disengagement plan ( and buying their support for further withdrawals might be too costly ), the Pensioners' position on disengagement is not univocal, and the Arab parties - on whose support no PM wants to depend in any case - mostly oppose unilateral disengagement as well. Also, when it comes to social policies the goals of the Pensioners, Labor, Shas and Kadimah ( do they have a social policy? ) lie far apart. If there is anything that was proven by the voters it is that Israeli society is fragmented like never before: in a way, apart from Kadimah and Labor all parties are sectorial, including the Likud.
Could it be that the key to success for Ehud Olmert lies in Gaza? If he manages to find a serious partner to negotiations on the Palestinian side ( and we should not be too surprised if Hamas is going to be such a partner ) some sort of negotiated withdrawal/peace-agreement could be found that will have the support of 70-50 Knesset majority. While the election results were not the nightmare that they could have been for Olmert ( for what was only a new, virtual party to emerge as the biggest party is still an impressive achievement, even though we still have to see what can hold such a diverse collection of opportunists together ) they still will cost him several nights' sleep. He will have a hard time to build a stable coalition that is able to bring about the changes that are necessary to make life a bit more liveable ( and keyf - fun -, a phrase used by Olmert in his election campaign ) over here.

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