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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Election Update - Part 4: Cracks in the Glass House?

Last night, I told you all that I thought that Ehud Olmert's interview with Channel 2 may bring about the first cracks in the Kadima Achora glass house. Today, there are more indications that I am right.

The JPost is reporting that Olmert received a "barrage of criticism" today from his own party members over his comments indicating that he favored more unilateral withdrawals expulsions of Jews from their homes.

What's surprising is that the criticism did not come only from former Likud MK's like Tzachi HaNegbi, but also from Labor MK's like Yitzchak Herzog.

According to Army Radio Tzahi Hanegbi, of the Kadima Party, said he would work against such a plan, while his Kadima colleague, former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter expressed outright rejection of further withdrawals.

Ministers from both Labor and Likud blasted Olmert's comments. Yitzhak Herzog of Labor called Olmert's speech a "failed audition" and added that it sounded as if Olmert was repeating the platforms of other parties.


When pressed to spell out details of the settlement blocs, Olmert said there was no reason at this time to "understand where every point would run. We are going toward separation from the Palestinians, toward establishing a permanent border for Israel."

He said that the border he had in mind would not be the same as Israel's border today. He gave no indication of when or how those Jews not in the settlement blocks, estimated by Peace Now to be some 60,000 people, would be removed.

In being sparse about the details of the settlement blocs, Olmert was also following Sharon's lead. Sharon spoke repeatedly about Israel holding on to the major settlement blocs, without ever publicly defining what settlements would eventually be part of those blocs.

In the meantime, Arutz Sheva is reporting this evening that Kadima Achora has turned down a request from the Likud to have Ehud Olmert debate Bibi Netanyahu:

The Kadima Party has turned down the Likud's proposal for a public debate between Ehud Olmert and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. A Kadima statement said, "We are not a part of the traveling circus of Bibi [Netanyahu] and [Labor Chairman Amir] Peretz."

The Likud released this response:
"Olmert is afraid of a debate with Netanyahu. He does not want to put his personality and his positions to the test of a debate with Netanyahu, and prefers to continue to declaim the sound-bites given him by his advisors Reuven Adler and Eyal Arad."

Arutz Sheva is also reporting that with the deadline for submitting final Knesst lists looming tomorrow night, the National Religious Party (Mafdal) and the National Union (Ichud Leumi) are on the verge of merging.

After weeks of wrangling, the National Union and the National Religious Party are very close to a final agreement on a joint run in the upcoming Knesset election. The final composition of the list has not yet been set, and in fact is still in dispute.

The differences between the parties are not insignificant, but, as MK Nissan Slomiansky (NRP) explained today, "After what happened in Gush Katif and Amona, and in light of the dangers awaiting us, the religious-Zionist public demands a merger. If not, many of our potential voters say they will not vote at all."

Among those exerting last-minute pressure for a merger are former Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu, former MK Chanan Porat, and the Yesha Council.

Last week, the press reported that they were hung up because the NRP would not commit to staying together for at least two years. In my Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhood, there are signs up urging a merger of Shas and United Torah Judaism (which itself is a merger of two factions - Degel HaTorah and Agudath Yisrael) with the National Religious Party and the National Union. The sign would be an oddity but for the results it predicts for the elections (which strike me as overly optimistic). Those results show that without merging, NRP and National Union would get 12 seats, United Torah Judaism will get 7 seats and Shas 10 seats for a total of "29 seats without influence." The poster claims that together they would get 43 seats. I'm afraid that's just a dream....


At 6:32 AM, Blogger Batya said...

Tzachi claimed that the "supermarket" list of all opinions is good, but it's the worst, since you can vote for him and get Olmert. Not that I'm voting for Tzachi; he's no Geula.


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