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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Election Update - Part 3

The polls still indicate that Ariel Sharon's Kadima Achora party will win the elections, but what we can only hope to be the first cracks in the glass house are becoming visible.

In an interview to be broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 this evening, and during a tour of Israel's putative 'security fence,' Olmert suddenly has become a Likudnik, vowing that "[T]he Gush Etzion and Ma'aleh Adumim settlement blocs will remain within the security fence and are an inseparable part of Israel," and saying that he "intends to hold on to all of Israel's major settlement blocs and small settlements on the border with Jordan."

Now, here's the key:

The interview with Olmert was taped Tuesday morning and is to be broadcast Tuesday night on Channel 2 TV. Political affairs reporter Nissim Mishal said it was the first time any leader had geven such specific details on what Israel would keep.

Mishal said Olmert specified that he intended to hold on to the three major West Bank settlement blocs - Ariel, 17 kilometers inside the West Bank, and two Jerusalem satellites, Gush Etzion and Ma'aleh Adumim - in addition to the Jordan Valley. About 185,000 of Israel's 244,000 West Bank settlers live in those four areas, according to Peace Now.

Mishal said Olmert also hinted that further unilateral withdrawals, like the one Israel carried out this summer from the Gaza Strip, were in the offing, now that Hamas has won the Palestinian Authority legislative elections and are set to take power.

"He talked about Israel having to maintain a Jewish majority in the state of Israel, meaning that we have to create a new border, what is called final borders. He knows that we can't negotiate with Hamas. So the only conclusion that can be derived from this is that in order to reach final borders, Israel will have to carry out additional (unilateral) withdrawals."

First of all, giving away your negotiating position before you sit down at the table is sheer stupidity. Unfortunately, in Israel, being stupid doesn't mean you cannot be elected. After all, Amir Peretz heads the Labor party today.

Second, Olmert is making the mistake of equating 'settlement blocs' with security. The most strategic land is not necessarily where these three settlement blocs are located. What is probably the most strategic piece of real estate in Samaria - Har Ba'al Hatzor - is located right near 'Amona' where Olmert's thugs beat a bunch a teenagers last Wednesday. And the list of places that Olmert would give to the 'Palestinians would put those savages eleven kilometers from Ben Gurion Airport - Israel's only true international airport. If I were the Likud I would keep hammering home what Olmert's 'withdrawals' will leave exposed on the 'pre-1967' side of the green line.

Third, among the areas that are not included in the settlement blocs is the area around Kiryat Sefer (Modi'in Elite), which includes several towns that hug the green line. Will Olmert keep those also? If so, you can bet that he's going to start a lot of fighting within his own party. Kiryat Sefer is the third largest Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) town in Israel, and Olmert's thugs hate Haredim.

Fourth, if you believe the polls (and I have indicated my suspicion of Israeli polls before on this blog), most Israelis are opposed to more 'unilateral withdrawals.' A poll taken by Maagar Mochot shows that the Israeli public, including a large percentage of Kadima voters, does not support additional significant unilateral withdrawals if it becomes clear that the PA will not fight terror and that US President George W. Bush's Road Map Plan is therefore impossible to implement. We'll come back to this poll in just a bit.

Finally, while Olmert talks about carrying out unilateral withdrawals expelling Jews from their homes in order to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel, as I noted on Sunday, the population numbers for the 'Palestinians' are likely overstated. If I were running the Likud campaign, I would raise that issue.

Now let's return to the article on the Maagar Mochot poll:

The Maagar Mochot poll, carried out by Professor Yitzchak Katz this past Sunday and Monday, also revealed a startling public-opinion trend glossed over by other pollsters in recent months – that the nation is not convinced that Kadima or Likud deserve their vote. Analysts say that this leaves room for the Nationalists and Religious Zionists to attract votes on an anti-withdrawal platform – one-third of the population refused to reveal who they would vote for, or otherwise said they were undecided when questioned by pollsters.

The survey also demonstrates that the lack of support for further withdrawals in the current political climate is even present within Kadima voters, with 46% unwilling to vocalize support for such withdrawals and 32% of self-proclaimed Kadima voters denying that a vote for Kadima is a vote for further retreats. These results illustrate the confusing message of the Kadima Party, whose leaders, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz both advocate further unilateral withdrawals in response to the victory of Hamas. Kadima's spokespeople and election campaign, however, consists of ambiguous statements and pictures of comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that anyone other than the Likud, Labor and Kadima Achora is going to win more than ten mandates in the next Knesset. In fact, I find it hard to believe that anyone else is going to win more than five. But note that second paragraph. The Likud and the other parties on the right have to try to exploit that opposition to further unilateral withdrawals expulsions of Jews from their homes, by connecting unilateral withdrawals with Kadima Achora in people's minds. Time to bring out the guy who did the Peres arm in arm with Arafat commercial for Netanyahu in 1996 and get him to do Olmert calling for more unilateral withdrawals expulsions of Jews from their homes.

Finally, there is this bit of education about polls in Israel (from the article about the Maagar Mochot poll):

The poll also demonstrates how critical the wording of questions is in determining the results. The text of the actual questions is often left out of articles claiming popular support for withdrawal:

*Asked, "Are you for or against significant unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria if after the elections it becomes clear that the PA doesn't fight terror and not possible to advance in accordance with the Road Map?" only 35% said they were for an 50% were against, with 15% answering "other."

*Support declined further when the question was phrased: "Are you for or against significant unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria even if there is a reasonable chance that a threatening sovereign Palestinian state enjoying the support of the Arab world will be established in the evacuated area?" Just 32% were for, while 56% were opposed, with 12% answering "other."

* Adding even harsher imagery to the language of the question led to results similar to the Likud referendum prior to the Gaza withdrawal, which roundly rejected the concept of unilateral withdrawal. Asked, "Are you for or against significant unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria even if Kassams will fall in the center of the country, without an effective response, as they are now falling in Sderot?" only 25% were in favor while 64% were opposed and 11% answered "other."
Maybe Israelis aren't so stupid after all.

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