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Implementing Decisions in 2004

27 December 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Decision making is difficult while their realization is many times more problematic.  The State of Israel stands before three major decisions which need immediate implementation.

Finance Minister Netanyahu’s state budget has not been quite decided but the ax should fall within a few weeks.  If the budget does not pass by the end of March, then by law there will have to be new elections.  Suddenly at the last moment, certain coalition Knesset members, especially from Netanyahu’s senior Likud faction are making partisan demands.  Deep cuts are being made in an effort to lower taxes and restart the economy.  Should the finance minister fail the economic results could be disastrous.

With Thursday’s terror attack at the Geha junction outside of Tel Aviv, almost three months of quiet inside Israel’s 1967 borders ended.  Just east of the attack the security fence is not completed.  The decision was taken but implementation lags.  Supposedly this is a project of national priority.  For a few weeks people felt secure again despite 52 terror warnings by security forces.  The IDF and General Security Service have done an incredible job stopping terrorism but never claimed their success will be 100%.  Now the proof has arrived.  In all probability the fence would have prevented the attack.  Consensus is solidly behind building the barrier with only the extreme left and especially the radical right opposing its continued construction.  The fence must be built even if the right leaves the government.

Prime Minister Sharon’s biggest test will come when he begins evacuating the illegal settlement outposts, starting with Migron which already has 43 families.  The settler movement claims thousands will flock to the outpost to face down the army and police when the order comes for evacuation.  The face-off will be between upholding and violating the law.  The political center wants Migron and other illegal settlements removed as does Israel’s friends, especially the US.  Sharon has made the decision, yet there are coalition members threatening opposition.  Should the government fail it will be the beginning of its downfall and the end of Sharon’s career.  It must be remembered that such evacuations are only the first step in the “disconnecting” process to take place between Israel and the Palestinians.  Sharon is taking unilateral steps since he does not believe he has a Palestinian partner in the peace process.

2004 is going to be a very tough year but should the government implement these three tough decisions it will prove it can lead and gain credibility by improving security and the economy while moving towards a two-state solution.  The Likud could cement itself in power for a long time to come.