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ISRAEL'S 'GUNS OR BUTTER' ELECTION

Jerusalem Fireworks on Gaza Border...

The jury is still out on whether Hamas instigated the most serious incident since the end of the Gaza war four months ago.

L: Benyamin Netanyahu, R: Yitzhak Herzog

 Eleven o'clock in the morning: A Palestinian sniper fires a single shot at an IDF soldier who was guarding Israeli workers busy repairing the security fence that runs along the frontier. The soldier, an Israeli Bedouin, falls after being hit in the chest. Within minutes an Israeli ambulance races to the scene while IDF forces return fire. (Not only medics but also specially trained doctors are stationed near combat troops wherever possible. According to YNET news, the doctor determined immediately that the soldier was suffering from massive bleeding in his chest cavity and his life was in danger (most fatalities in the IDF are caused by massive bleeding). 

“We will respond every time there is an attempt to violate the quiet that was achieved after the Protective Edge operation (last summer)!”

 Without delay the doctor decided on an emergency procedure while in the line of fire from nearby Palestinian buildings and two Hamas positions. His surgery succeeded in stabilizing the soldier's condition. A rescue helicopter was then called in to evacuate the wounded man to Saroka hospital in Beersheba. The soldier is now expected to recover. An Israeli air strike and tank fire hit the nearby Hamas positions killing the commander of the Hamas observer team in the area and wounding five other Hamas members. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared:

 “We will respond every time there is an attempt to violate the quiet that was achieved after the Protective Edge operation (last summer)!”

 

Chief of General Staff, Benny Gantz

 Several weeks ago, another Palestinian sniper shot out the windshield of an IDF jeep traveling along the Gaza border, but no one was wounded. In that incident, the IDF fired back with one artillery shell at an empty area but apparently that warning was not heeded. Responding to the latest sniper fire, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reckoned:

 'We are prepared for any contingency but instability is a permanent element along all our borders. We have absolutely no intention to let such challenges go unanswered'.

 

 Subsequently, Hamas blamed Israel for the latest incident, charging the Israelis were trying 'to cross the border into Gaza'. At the same time, Hamas denied it was again heating up the border. In any case, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has said Israel continues to work closely with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt on containing Hamas terrorism. Moreover, Israel would not accept Hamas excuses that 'rogue elements' were responsible for the sporadic cease-fire violations from Gaza.

 

 Lieberman's party rocked by corruption charges...

...the unraveling scandal may scuttle Lieberman's chances of emerging from the upcoming election as kingmaker in determining Israel's next prime minister.

 Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Russian immigrants' party has been rocked to its very core by a police investigation that has implicated a former cabinet minister and the current Deputy Minister of Interior, Fainia Kirshenbaum. Over thirty public officials are under arrest or are being questioned in what could be the biggest graft case ever. Although party leader Lieberman denies any knowledge about Kirshenbaum’s complicity, the unraveling scandal may scuttle Lieberman's chances of emerging from the upcoming election as kingmaker in determining Israel's next prime minister.

 

 With the Right wing of Israeli politics now dominated by the Likud and Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party, hard-liner Lieberman has been striving to eke out a place in the Center. Recently he declared he would not rule out the possibility of joining a coalition under the premiership of Labor's Yitzhak Herzog, a dove.

 

 Good morning, Foreign Minister Lieberman!

Avigdor Lieberman

 And now Lieberman has jolted the country by blasting Israel's failed Palestinian policy, laying responsibility at the door of Netanyahu. He charged: 

 'Netanyahu's status quo approach has ended in failure and it is necessary to seek a political solution. Otherwise there will be a further deterioration with Europe, and remember they even imposed sanctions on Russia recently'.

 

 Really! As if the Foreign Minister has suddenly started listening to the news and reading diplomatic dispatches from his own ambassadors! Belatedly, Lieberman has wakened to the fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been winning the diplomatic warfare he has waged against the Jewish state with the aid of those damning Israeli announcements of new housing projects on the West Bank.

 

 Israel's 'Guns Or Butter' Election Campaign...

MK Yitzhak Herzog of the Labor Party

 The news that more than 900,000 children are living in poverty has supplied gallons of fuel to the flames of the current election campaign. It has armed the Center-Left parties with ammunition to hurl at the ruling Likud Party. Labor's Yitzhak Herzog, who has no experience in defense or foreign affairs, is pounding the social welfare tom-toms, charging that Netanyahu has neglected Israel's needy by siphoning public funds to the settlements. This he vows will lead to Netanyahu's downfall in the March 17th ballot. On the other hand, the Likud leader has stressed that he only has the experience to cope with the threats facing the country and warned that if Herzog-Livni form the next government: 'They will partition Jerusalem and Israelis will have to visit the Western Wall in armored personnel carriers (because it will be left as an enclave in Palestinian controlled eastern Jerusalem)'.

 

It stands to reason that if tension mounts with Hamas and Hezbollah or even Islamic State, if it moves closer to Israeli borders, this will bolster the Netanyahu ticket.

 Netanyahu is a skilled campaign copywriter - in the 1996 election he charged that Labor's Shimon Peres 'would partition Jerusalem' and this stuck. Obviously, if Herzog plans on allocating more money for social needs the huge defense budget, which was recently increased by Netanyahu, will have to be slashed. How this 'guns or butter ' debate will play out remains to be seen. March 17th is still a long way off and who knows what could happen on the security front by then. It stands to reason that if tension mounts with Hamas and Hezbollah or even Islamic State, if it moves closer to Israeli borders, this will bolster the Netanyahu ticket. And who knows, if Hamas prefers Netanyahu they could heat up the Gaza border or the West Bank before Israelis go to vote.

 

 (In the Shamir-Peres election campaign of 1988, the two candidates were tied in the opinion polls. On the night before the election, Palestinian terrorists firebombed an Israeli bus near Jericho that burned a mother and her two children to death. The atrocity incensed Israeli voters who voted in Shamir the next day. A similar scenario happened in 1996 when a series of Palestinian suicide bombers again blasted Peres out of office and handed the election to Netanyahu.)

 

Ayala Shapiro, 11-year-old girl fighting for her life from third degree burns caused by fire-bombing

 This breaking news story: On the West Bank, a Palestinian terrorist has just thrown a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli car. An eleven-year-old girl suffered third degree burns to forty percent of her body, mainly to her face and upper body. Her father crashed into the side of the road but managed to rescue her screaming from the vehicle that turned into a blazing fireball. He was also hospitalized with minor burns. The youngster, Ayala Shapiro, has been sedated and is now on life support in the hospital.

 

 QED: Look for Likud to rise in the new opinion polls.

 

 


 David Essing

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