Analysis: Barak proves man for the moment

By Daniella Peled - Foreign Editor, December 31, 2008

A week is a long time in Israeli politics, too. Labour leader and defence minister Ehud Barak has long been a non-entity, languishing in the polls, his party an irrelevance.

But Barak seems to have pulled off an astonishing reversal. The operation in Gaza positions him as a man to lead in a crisis — and puts him in stark contrast to his predecessor as both Labour leader and Defence Minister Amir Peretz, whose performance in the Second Lebanon War was laughable.


Analysis: Tehran has its own agenda in Gaza

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, December 31, 2008

Beyond the immediate objective of restoring calm to Israel’s south, there are four additional reasons for Israel’s operation.

First, there is the criminal nature of the Hamas government in Gaza, which has done all in its power to harm its own population. Hamas has turned Gazans into human shields, behind whom it hides its military infrastructure. And it has prioritised ‘resistance’ to Israeli ‘occupation’ — presumably of Israel itself — over improving the daily lives of Gazans.


Analysis: Cairo bears a major part of the responsibility for the conflict

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

In all the talk of the siege, blockade and humanitarian disaster of Gaza, one small inconvenient detail almost always goes unmentioned. Gaza has a second border in addition to the one with Israel: a small but potentially useful border with its Arab sister, Egypt.

Three-and-a-half years ago, when the international community was still hopefully predicting a peaceful outcome to Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians were self-importantly promising to play a major role in the security arrangements from the day after the pullout.


Analysis: Plenty of plans but no solution

By Daniella Peled, December 23, 2008

While Israeli officials privately predict an imminent ground operation, there is no pretence that this will solve anything.

Israel has the military capability to re-occupy the Strip, but has no desire to re-assume responsibility for 1.5 million Gazans, quite apart from the vast cost this would entail, both human and financial.

Israel has been limiting itself to striking directly at rocket-launching teams. Now this is likely to be extended to hitting rocket workshops and Hamas leaders — with the inevitable civilian casualties.


Analysis: This may bring a strike closer

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, December 23, 2008

Something went wrong with Russia’s air defence systems on September 6, 2007. Israeli fighter jets penetrated Syrian airspace and destroyed a secret installation, in all likelihood a nuclear reactor. Syria was protected by a Russian-made air defence system, the Pantsir, and Israel’s ability to penetrate Syrian airspace and destroy such a sensitive facility meant that Tehran took notice: reports suggested that 14 of the 50 systems delivered to Damascus were earmarked for shipment to Iran.


Analysis: It affects us, too

By Jenni Frazer, December 18, 2008

The more the news filters through from America as to the extent of the alleged Madoff swindle, the louder the sighs of unashamed relief from this side of the pond.

Phew, goes the thinking; thank heavens we're not affected. Thank goodness we haven’t entrusted our family foundation funds to the wily Mr Madoff, a man of such moral rectitude that even his own sons, poor dupes, refused to counter-sign his conditions of bail.


Analysis: The Bernie Madoff lesson

By Alex Brummer, December 18, 2008

The last year has been appalling for individuals and charities seeking to hang on to their hard-earned savings and precious endowments.
Sharply lower equity prices, collapsing residential and property values, shrinking pension and trust funds and falling interest rates (UK rates could well be down to near zero by spring 2009) have made it all but impossible for investors to keep their money intact.


Analysis: There is no easy solution

By Daniella Peled, December 18, 2008

Sunday’s vast rally in Gaza, with its ghastly Gilad Shalit tableau and tens of thousands of flag-waving Hamas supporters, was a sight intended to strike terror or awe into all who saw it (including the ranks of foreign cameramen).

But as a show of force it was pretty deceptive. The fact they still hold Shalit hostage is pretty much the only achievement Hamas can show off to the beleaguered occupants of the Strip. Things are probably about to get much worse, too.

The six month truce is up and Israel, much as it wants to continue it, fully expects an imminent escalation in the south.


Analysis: Olmert’s air miles have proved costly

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 11, 2008

Ehud Olmert’s wanderlust has been well documented by the Israeli media. In his second term as Jerusalem mayor, which lasted four and a half years, he clocked up no less than 294 days in 55 trips outside Israel. His destinations ranged from Japan to Brazil, but his favourite city was New York, where his good friend, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, awarded him the rare privilege of being allowed to park anywhere in the Big Apple.


Analysis: Palestinian poverty is a strategic threat

By Amotz Asa-el, December 11, 2008

It has been nearly a decade since Israeli authorities found anything worth celebrating in the Palestinian economy. But there seem to be some signs of life, including rising wages and declining unemployment.

But the Palestinian economy is still fundamentally deformed, its labour market excessively dependent on the PA and Israeli employers. With joblessness officially at 16 per cent (higher in reality) and with the average monthly income under £470, there is little consolation in the fact that the recent olive harvest’s revenue, about £87m, was more than twice that of 2008.