Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Olmert and Gaza

PM Olmert has agreed to be interrogated by the police next Friday for the second time regarding the hundreds of thousands of dollars that an American businessman, Morris Talansky, is alleged to have paid him while he was Mayor of Jerusalem and Minister of Industry and Trade. Meanwhile, the legal matter of whether or not Talansky, who is currently in Israel, can be interrogated by the court, has been settled. Olmert's attorneys argued that he should not be, but the State's prosecutors argued that he might return to the US and not return to Israel for questioning, particularly since he may also face charges, so the Supreme Court ruled that he can be interrogated now, even before the case against Olmert is presented. Talansky will be interrogated soon.
The imminence and seriousness of this case against Olmert has caused a ripple of political maneuverings. The general view is that even though there may be a new election by next spring, the likelihood is that FM Livni will replace Olmert if he is actually charged. She may be able to hold his coalition together. If not the election will come sooner. There is little doubt that most of the country and certainly the opposition is in favor of an election and a change in the political situation.
During his Knesset speech when Pres. Bush was here, Olmert stated that the Grad rocket attack on the Mall in Ashkelon was "intolerable." Yet, he has managed to tolerate it! The excuse is that there are indirect talks being conducted with Hamas thru Egypt, although the Govt. does not openly admit this. They say that Egypt is trying to arrange a ceasefire and that if Hamas stops firing rockets, the IDF will stop raids. Supposedly the fear that the IDF is ready to make a massive attack on Gaza has persuaded them to agree to this Egyptian proposal. But, Israel insisted that the case of Cpl. Schalit must be resolved in conjunction with any ceasefire. While Israel will not address the question of the ceasefire, Hamas insists that it will only be a temporary cessation of attacks (hudna).
At least a ceasefire, however temporary, will give the inhabitants of Sderot, Ashkelon and the surrounding settlements a breather. Meanwhile Hamas will improve their military situation, although they are not supposed to smuggle more arms into Gaza, but how will Israel ensure this? The ceasefire, if it goes into effect, will only delay a future conflagration,


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