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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Will the 'Palestinians' bring down Olmert for us?

There was a very interesting reaction to yesterday's story about Defense Minister Ehud Barak being caught talking candidly. It came from 'Palestinian negotiator' Saeb Erekat:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has reportedly promised Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to release in the coming days a list of major West Bank roadblocks that will be removed, a Palestinian negotiator said Saturday.

The negotiator, Saeb Erekat, spoke a day after an Israeli newspaper portrayed Israel's new defense minister, Ehud Barak, as being dismissive of Olmert's recent efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinian.


Erekat said Olmert gave specific assurances to Abbas in that meeting. Olmert told Abbas that "by next week, the defense minister will submit a whole list of major checkpoints to be removed in the West Bank, to enable the mobility of the Palestinians,"' Erekat said.

"We are taking the commitment of the prime minister seriously, and we are waiting to see deeds," Erekat said.
There are three possibilities here. One is that Olmert was serious, that Barak will play along and that God forbid we will see an uptick in 'Palestinian' terrorism again. I don't see that happening because Ehud Barak wants to be Prime Minister, and has already learned that having lots of terrorism on your watch as Defense Minister or Prime Minister is not good for your resume. For those who have forgotten, Barak was Prime Minister from 1999-2001 and was summarily thrown out when he could do nothing to stop the intifadeh in the fall of 2000.

The second possibility is that Olmert has no intention of living up to his commitment to the 'Palestinians.' That's possible, but sounds very unlike Olmert's recent but consistent pandering to the left in the hope that they will keep him in power.

The third - and to me most intriguing - possibility is that Olmert intends to keep his commitment and that Barak meant what he said off camera. What would happen if Olmert told Barak to draw up a list of roadblocks to be dismantled and Barak - a 'bitchonist' (leftist with a strong security streak) in the tradition of Yitzchak Rabin said no? Recall that during the Labor primaries, Barak committed that he would not stay in a government headed by Olmert past the publication of the final Winograd Report, which was then scheduled to happen around now. Olmert has managed to get the release of the final Winograd Report pushed off - possibly by as long as a year. Could Barak be getting impatient?


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