Analysis: Obama knows Likud’s power

By Shmuel Rosner, February 12, 2009

The Obama administration wanted a decisive Kadima victory, putting Tzipi Livni at the helm of Israel’s next coalition. But just as Israelis want the next government to be a unity one, so the nascent US administration, patiently waiting for its Israeli partner, feels that such an outcome would be tolerable.


Analysis: Arab view bleaker than ever

By Ben Lynfield, February 12, 2009

Whatever coalition emerges from this week’s election, the new government’s tenure promises to be a bleak period with scant progress towards a negotiated solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to analysts on both sides of the divide.

The election is part of a process under way since the breakdown of the Camp David talks in 2000 in which hard-liners on both sides are fuelling each other. The intifada brought Ariel Sharon to power, while Sharon’s policies contributed to the victory of Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian elections.


Analysis: Time to overhaul the voting system

By Jeff Barak, February 12, 2009

Although he is likely to become Israel’s next prime minister, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu in essence lost this week’s elections. A month ago, Likud enjoyed a double-digit lead over Kadima and it seemed as if the only problem Netanyahu would face would be who to not include in his coalition. Now, if Netanyahu is to return to the Prime Minister’s Office, he has no choice but to form, at least initially, the most right-wing government in Israel’s history — regardless of his own preference for a more centrist coalition based on a national unity government.


Analysis: The world is willfully blind to these crimes

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, February 12, 2009

For a brief time last week, UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, had a “man bites dog” moment. UNRWA’s protest against Hamas’ looting of its warehouses — to supply Hamas’ own supporters or profiteer on the black market — was unprecedented, especially coming on the heels of another admission: that the terrible incident at the Al-Fakhura school near Jabaliya, on 6 January, had been misrepresented.


Analysis: Should Israel swap one man for many?

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 12, 2009

The impending deal over the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners — many serving life sentences for terror — to secure the return of Gilad Shilat, touches upon one of the most sensitive points in the collective Israeli psyche.

It also an issue with immense political, security and social ramifications, whether in terms of the price being paid for his release, or the implications of allowing him to continue languishing in captivity.

Rami Igra, the former head of Mossad’s Prisoners and MIAs department, opposes such deals.


Analysis: EU wants to talk to Hamas

By Daniella Peled, February 5, 2009

So there is “no ambiguity” in US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s position toward Hamas. The same, however, cannot be said for other international players, whose attitude to the militant group is getting ever more creative. And European equivocation, according to Israeli officials, is reaching an extremely concerning point.

An indication can be found in the monthly statements of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, where EU Foreign Ministers discuss topical issues and produce a declaration on Israel-Palestine.


Seeds sown for a Green surprise

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 5, 2009

Every Israeli election throws up a host of unlikely political mutations — the result of attempts to cross the electoral threshold and gain a seat in the Knesset. Next week’s polls will be no exception.


Analysis: The problem with this poll? Israelis don’t care

By Uri Dromi, February 5, 2009

If you arrive in Israel today, you wouldn’t know that in few days people here are going to vote to decide the nation’s future. Except for the huge billboards with portraits of the candidates promising the moon, and the commercials — a royal waste of money, which few people will watch — there is nothing but indifference.

Why this apathy in a country so politicised, with historically high levels of voting? How come 25 per cent of Israelis are undecided, and maybe more will not vote?


Analysis: An astonishing act by this German Pope

By Ed Kessler, January 29, 2009

The extraordinary decision of Pope Benedict XVI to lift the excommunication of four traditionalist Catholic bishops who head the Fraternity of St Pius X, one of whom is Holocaust denier Richard Williamson, has now been answered by the decision of the Israeli Chief Rabbis to break off official ties with the Vatican.

While the Chief Rabbis’ reaction is understandable, it won’t help. The Vatican’s action, for close watchers of Pope Benedict XVI’s approach to Catholic-Jewish relations, is not wholly surprising.


Analysis: Emanuele Ottolenghi

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, January 29, 2009

There is every reason to doubt the figures given by Hamas for the number of dead and wounded in Gaza. In Jenin in 2002, Palestinian spokesmen gave staggering figures: first 3,000, then 500. A UN inquiry downsized this to 54 and confirmed that most were combatants.