Sunday, June 06, 2004

The State of Israel is run by clowns

Prime Minister Sharon fired the National Union ministers, Avigdor Lieberman (no relation to Senator Joe) and Benny Elon. Elon tried to avoid getting his pink slip, since it comes into effect 48 hours after he receives it, so he'd be able to vote against the disengagement plan in today's government meeting. He didn't succeed.

Members of Knesset Elon and Lieberman (it's great not to write Minister before their names) are far right wingers. Other than the fact that their policies don't match with the rest of the government's policies, the facts that Lieberman actively lobbies the idea of transferring Arab Israelis and that Elon was a bad tourism minister are themselves good causes for their dismissal. The government is much better without them.

But the farce didn't end there. All kinds of arm twisting went on till the very last second, when Benjamin Netanyahu (Treasury), Limor Livnat (Education) and Silvan Shalom (Foreign Affairs) stopped the government meeting in the middle. In the end an agreement was achieved. I'm not sure what I think of this compromise disengagement plan. I'm not crazy about it (but neither am I crazy about Sharon's original plan).

So what'll happen now? Political predictions aren't a good idea, especially in Israel, since everything could change. But here's my guess: The National Religious Party (Mafdal) will leave the government, Peres will try to get labor into the coalition, but most other Laborites will rightly bar him from doing so. They don't want to go to elections yet, though, so they'll be fighting oppositionists on most issues but will support the disengagement plan. Some Likud members might try to replace Sharon with Bibi, but Bibi himself doesn't want to be PM yet. I think he'll want to be elected PM with the next Knesset, which he hopes will be more comfortable for him.

So I think there will be a narrow government now, with a minority in the Knesset with just the Likud and Shinui's 55 MKs. There's going to be a long deadlock until either Bibi or Labor decide it's a good time for new elections (for themselves, of course, not for the country).

All this speculation, of course, goes down the drain if Sharon is indicted.

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