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Friday, November 23, 2007

Did Livni and Barak tell Olmert not to go?

Arutz Sheva reported yesterday afternoon that Foreign Minister Tzipi Feigele Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barach told Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert not to go to the Annapolis Conference.
Now reports are emerging that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both told close aides that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is "doing the wrong thing" by going to the Annapolis conference. Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz voiced the allegation Thursday morning in an interview with Voice of Israel government radio.

The Foreign and Defense Ministers have not commented on the charge.

Shteinitz also said he feels the prime minister is "making a terrible mistake by going to Annapolis." He rejected the claim that it is Hamas and not Fatah that is firing rockets on Sderot. "What difference does it make?" asked Shteinitz. "Mahmoud Abbas said he is responsible for security of all of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It does not make any difference who fires at us."

The Likud MK compared Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, when he went to Munich to talk with Adolf Hitler after the Nazi invasion of European countries.

Shteinitz charged that Prime Minister Olmert is negotiating under fire while the Arabs perpetrate rocket attacks in Sderot and terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. He likened this to Chamberlain's trying to appease Hitler while the Nazi war machine was in high gear.

He also said that going to Annapolis violates the American Roadmap plan, which calls for negotiations only when terrorist attacks and incitement against Israel completely end.
The fact that Shteinitz thinks Olmert is doing the wrong thing is not news. The question is whether Livni and Barak said it. I believe they did.

It's no secret that Ehud Barak is unhappy about the Annapolis conference mugging. Barak's problem is that he is in the left-leaning Labor party and earlier this week he was attacked for undermining Annapolis. As a result, he gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post this morning, in which he said that the 'conference' has a high chance of succeeding.
"There is a high chance that it [the summit] will succeed," he said. "It will begin the process. The real test will be when we discuss the core issues when the talks begin after the summit."

Barak said he did not believe a "wave of terror" would erupt in Israel if the summit failed. But he warned "inaction" could prove more dangerous than action. "All dialogue is important and we have a moral responsibility - from a security and diplomatic point of view - to find a peaceful way," he said.
But that doesn't reflect Barak's true views. Look at the next paragraph:
Barak added that Israel did not plan on skipping over the first stage of the US-backed road map peace plan, which calls on the Palestinians to dismantle terror infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"We are keeping for ourselves the right to operate and to fight terror," he said in reference to the Gaza Strip. "The first stage of the road map needs to be implemented. This is what is holding Gaza back."
There is no way the 'Palestinians' are going to dismantle the terror organizations (Abu Mazen won't do anything that will cause a war among his 'people') and there is no way the 'Palestinians' will accept Israel fighting terror after Annapolis ends. Barak knows it. Here's what Barak said earlier this week.
A harsh exchange of words erupted at the meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Vice Premier Haim Ramon over the track taken with the Palestinians ahead of the upcoming conference.

"Some people in Israel, and even some in the government, are raising Palestinian expectations and thus helping them accuse Israel of not budging from its position," Barak was quoted by Israel Radio as saying.

Israel must not be blamed for failure at Annapolis for not having made enough concessions, Barak said.
As to Livni, she has taken positions that are meant to undermine Olmert in the past. It's no secret that she doesn't get along with Olmert. Livni wants to be Prime Minister. She also has been negotiating with Abu Ala and she knows that the 'Palestinians' are not going to give anything once they sit down at the table. She also knows that most Israelis are not "tired of fighting" as Olmert claims, and will not tolerate another attempt to give away what Barak tried to give away at Camp David and Taba. She may not have told Olmert not to go, but she did place herself in the position of chief negotiator, where she can try to control what he does once he gets there.

So why don't Livni and Barak come out and oppose the conference? Several reasons.

1. Barak will lose his base in the Labor party if he opposes it.

2. Livni is close with Rice and cannot look past her friendship.

3. Barak's interest is in having elections called as soon as possible, while Olmert heads Kadima. If the conference doesn't happen now, it is likely that Olmert will be pushed out by his criminal activity before there are elections. If, on the other hand, Olmert reaches an agreement of some sort at Annapolis or in its aftermath, he would likely call new elections. And if Olmert fails spectacularly at Annapolis, Israelis might just take to the streets to demand new elections. Barak already trails Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu in the polls. If Livni takes Olmert's place, Barak - and his Labor party - become non-entities.

4. Livni tries to take as few positions as possible, because what makes her popular in Kadima (the party that Olmert and Ariel Sharon founded) is that she is squeaky clean (no criminal investigations) but no one really knows her position on anything. That's perfectly fine for Kadima, the party without ideology.


At 10:14 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I keep asking this question on Israeli blogs: Don't you guys have regular elections automatically in particular years? It sounds like when there is an election for prime minister is left up in the air and ad libbed by everyone involved. I don't get this. Isn't there some sort of objective marker as to when elections are held?

At 8:28 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Yes, in 2010.


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