No more concessions to Palestinians
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed a former IDF chief of staff, Retired general Shaul Mofaz, to Israeli Minister of Defense. He will replace Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who recently resigned from the post together with other Labor party ministers. However, disputes concerning the draft budget for 2003 are not yet settled. The Labor Party wanted to cut down on financing for the construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in the Gaza strip; they also insist that financing for the creation of 20,000 jobs should be appropriated and financial aid to pensioners should be increased. At first, it seemed that Sharon would avoid a break-up of his governmental coalition: it was decided to postpone budgetary discussions. The postponement was used for consultations between Ariel Sharon and Israeli Socialist Party leaders Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Shimon Peres; however, the Socialists still remained uncompromising.
Analysts say that the resignation of several key ministers from the government, the ministers for defense and foreign affairs especially, may result in the downfall of the governmental coalition and early parliamentary elections. However, these are the most unfavorable forecasts. The Israeli prime minister is currently preoccupied with the search for new partners for his governmental coalition (but there is not a wide choice, and Sharon is very likely to reach out to right-wing religious powers, the National Religious Party for instance). Ariel Sharon offered Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to return to his post, but the latter refused.
If Sharon manages to enter into an alliance with the National Religious Party, which is highly likely, then the counterbalance system, successfully maintained by the Israeli Socialist Party, will be forgotten once and for all. Yasser Arafat was the first to mention the reshuffling in the Israeli government. Arafat warned that the reshuffling of the Israeli government will aggravate the Middle East conflict. The Palestinian leader thinks that when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon relies upon the right-wing powers and religious parties, the situation in the region is highly likely to be aggravated even more. For instance, Yasser Arafat is especially worried about the appointment of former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz to the Defense Minister post. Mofaz’ position toward Palestinians is harsh; he says that the Palestinian leader should be dismissed.
The dependence of Ariel Sharon on far-right political powers, which occurred as a result of the governmental crisis, may mean that there will be practically no chance for the realization of Washington’s Middle East peace plan (the plan calls for an end to the construction of Israeli settlements construction on Palestinian territories), the online Jewish.ru informs.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/1/last_news_3.html
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill