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Increasing Palestinian Suffering for Islamist Gains

 

10 April 2008

By Yisrael Ne'eman

The recent allegations against Israeli PM Ehud Olmert leave no room for doubt – he must resign. As everyone knows, there has not even been an indictment, however the possible charges of bribe taking, money laundering, tax evasion and breach of public trust are so serious that he cannot continue in his capacity as PM and handle his legal problems simultaneously. Any policy he advocates, especially in “peace talks” with either the Syrians or Palestinians will be suspect of having been pursued for motives other than the good of the country. Likewise any military action Israel may be forced to take in Gaza. Olmert must leave office and if found innocent of all charges in whatever investigation(s) there may be, only then should he once again seek election. At the present he can only do damage to the State of Israel.

At the same time elections must be called. Many speak of a November date while others mention December in order to hold scheduled municipal contests on the same date as those for the Knesset and government as a cost saving measure. Elections half a year from now present us with paralysis and an unacceptable waste of time. The holidays come late this year in October, making mid-September an excellent time for general balloting. Municipal elections will then be three months later. Best we focus on both our national and local contests individually and in all seriousness even if it costs more in shekels. In particular the local contest will be downplayed in the name of national issues should elections be held on the same day. True quality of life is ensured by efficient municipal government and not by most laws passed on the national level. The price we will pay in being flippant when voting for our local representatives will be more costly than an extra election day.

Israel and the Jewish People are facing multiple security threats/prospects for peace and cannot afford a government and PM who do not enjoy the confidence of the people due to alleged criminal activity. A perceived dishonest government can represent no one except the criminal. With heightened security problems caused by continued shelling, bombing and rocket fire originating from the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, the continued threat from Hezbollah (and Iran) on the Lebanese frontier and the supposed peace overtures from Syria with the implied military threat should Damascus not get the entire Golan from Israel as a pre-condition in the now exposed secret talks carried on with Turkish mediation, any government in the Jewish State must be viewed as totally legitimate.

The key to new elections rests with the ultra-orthodox Sephardi Shas faction and the Left of center Labor Party. Both are coalition members and either one or both can bring down the government. Together they must approach Olmert and his Kadima faction with demands for his resignation (or leave of absence) coupled with general elections at the earliest possible September date.

The time has come for those in power to take responsibility for the fate of the nation and not just for the fate of their own political fortunes. This goes for the Kadima faction no less than the others as they too can decide on the necessity of early elections. Although it may sound pontifical, the time has come for the moral high ground to take precedence over political opportunism, meaning the three major coalition factions must lead in determining new elections ASAP. A government with close to zero credibility is the worst option we can afford.