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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Convergence Consolidation Surrender plan dead in the water?

Akiva Eldar is the kind of virulent leftist writer that HaAretz, Israel's Hebrew Palestinian daily, loves. In today's column, Eldar laments what he perceives to be the dying gasps of Ehud Olmert's convergence consolidation surrender plan. For once, I'm hoping he's right:

Let us suppose that Olmert waives his opposition to negotiations with Fatah's Abu Mazen, in the shadow of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. What instructions will the Israeli negotiating team (which has yet to be set up) be given? Will Labor agree to the annexation of E1? Will Kadima support exchanges of territory? Will Shas relinquish sovereignty over all areas of the Temple Mount? Has the Pensioners' Party formulated a position on the refugee issue? Will United Torah Judaism sacrifice the child allowances in order to fund compensation for the settlers?

Any one of these issues is enough to dismantle the government before the members of the Israeli negotiating team hold their first meeting with their Palestinian counterparts.

As a result, as though gathered around a deathbed, the ministers are being careful to speak in low tones about the premature death throes of the convergence plan.

Behind closed doors, they are saying that Olmert just wants to come home from Washington safely, and is directing his aides to focus the visit on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program. There is nothing better than that for a demonstration of national and international solidarity. When we are threatened with an atomic bomb, only an indefatigable politician like Culture, Sports and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ophir Pines-Paz can pay attention to trivia like, for example, the disappearance of the ministerial committee for the implementation of the Sasson Report that, more than two years ago, recommended dismantling dozens of illegal outposts without delay.

Here you have another time bomb in the political balance of fear. Peretz is not in any hurry. Two years from now, when the late lamented convergence is at the top of Olmert's list of achievements, Peretz will dismantle the government. His problem is that diplomatic stagnation is a sure recipe for a negative security balance, and for this, too, he is responsible.
We'll know more next week.


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