Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Israel-Palestine Watch

I hate to say it, but this is likely why Sharon stroked out.

Laptop data in Sharon Corruption Scandal

The problem, of course, is what is going to happen to the Israel/Palestinian problem. Is there any leader in Israel who can move this forward as distinctly and quickly as Sharon has? Of course, to Palestinians, Sharon was never a good nor legitimate leader of Israel because he is still widely considered to be a "butcher" for "allowing" Christian Lebanese militia to assault and murder Palestinians in settlements in what became the origination of the Lebanese civil war and where, unfortunately, Yassir Arafat was rescued by the US.

That was one major geo-political disaster.

For additional information, read more in the inner sanctum.

Israel Succession

Will this wall continue?

In certain respects, the proposed 450-mile barrier is a model of planning reduced to its most primitive - the desire to divide black from white, us from them. Conceived in 2002 to protect Israel from terrorists, it has been extolled as a necessary tool for self-preservation. It has also been assailed as a formula for ghettoization and a symbol of colonialism.

More on this later as people should be aware of the pros and cons of this wall and the likely effect on Palestinian economy, democracy and possibility for peace. In some respects, I agree with the idea that this will result in the ghettoization of Palestine. It's true, but it is not exactly Israel's fault alone with the poor economy and security of Palestine, the lack of a wall has simply kept Palestine afloat to some degree with easier ability (relatively) to cross, do business and bring back money into the Palestinian economy. When the wall goes up, Palestinian economy crashes, particularly since the wall appears to be putting Jerusalem, the largest tourist money making area, clearly in Israeli territory.

On top of that, Palestine is full of gangs, not freedom fighters. Gangs that: extort money; kidnap people for ransom money; steal aid; sell drugs; kill "collaborators" who are most likely people that simply thwarted the gangs' efforts or cheated them in some respect (though there are likley some in rival gangs that have given members of other parties' up to the Israelis for a take down without dirtying their own hands and causing all out turf war); are only interested in their own political power and access to money, not in the plight of average Palestinians.

The truth is, there is a power vaccuum in Palestine since Arafat died. He might have been an evil, greedy, two faced crime boss who held on to power by balancing his enemies against each other and lavishing money among his cronies and enemies alike, but he did have some apparent ability to keep each of these groups in check to some degree, whether it was through money or general mob boss activities of granting each group their territories and sanctioning hits.

Abbas cannot do it. He hasn't the power, the forces, the money or the charisma. Which means we are likely to see Israel quickly throw up the wall, Palestine will fall into chaos, continue being poor as each gang fights among themselves for power with a possible unfortunate response of Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon getting the backlash.

Palestinians break into Egypt

RAFAH, Gaza Strip - Hundreds of angry Palestinians streamed into Egypt on Wednesday after militants with stolen bulldozers broke through a border wall, and two Egyptian troops were killed and 30 were wounded by gunfire in the rampage.

I predict that this next year is going to be extremely rough in Palestine, though, Sharon stepping down or dying (may God forbid), may actually result in Abbas getting some power by being the only guy with the power and the legitimacy to start negotiations with whoever is Israel's new PM. That may slow down and calm down the violence, but I wouldn't bet on it.

In other news, Turkey pledges $5 million to re-invigorate Gaza industrial complex.

The agreement marked a serious Turkish investment in the region that was meant to help the Palestinians rebuild their economy after five years of violence.

A UN report released last month showed unemployment in Gaza standing at 35 percent. About a third of Gazans subsist on less than $2.20 a day - the sum set as the poverty line, according to the report.

Let's hope it actually makes it to the development of industry since work and money may help stem some of the unrest and violence that may become something really ugly in the next year.

Unfortunately, this investment is a drop in the bucket for Palesine's fiscal problems:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a report on the economic challenges facing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The IMF noted the Palestinian government had a difficult year as continued valance torpedoed financial reform efforts. IMF projected a budget deficit of $940 million in 2006, representing 19 percent of the GDP. The following text is an excerpt of an IMF report on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

With unchanged policies, the fiscal deficit for 2006 is projected at about $940 million or nearly 19 percent of GDP, about 2 percentage points of GDP higher than the expected outcome in 2005. Projected gains in revenue would be more than offset by expenditure increases due to the full year effect of the mid-2005 wage increases for civil servants and security employees, and the impact of integrating security forces. [snip]

There is therefore an urgent need to restore a sustainable fiscal position.

The real problem, of course, is that violence and unrest will keep real investment and development away from the area, thus continuing to reduce viable businesses, increase unemployment and poverty which in turn will increase violence and unrest due to failed government and economy.

It's a vicious circle that the none of the Palestinian groups seem to understand or care about in their quest for power.

In the meantime, Lebanon continues to deal with its own Palestinian problem.

In an interview with the Central News Agency Monday, Makkawi stressed that Palestinians are gearing up for dialogue with the Lebanese authorities and "efforts are exerted at more than one level to cover all its aspects."

He indicated that the ruling against Fatah's commander in Lebanon Brigadier Sultan Abu al-Aynayn is under legal discussion to find a solution.

Abu al-Aynayn was sentenced to death by the Lebanese military judiciary after being charged with the possession and traffiking of weapons and ammunition.

The Palestine Liberation Organization's representative in South Lebanon, Khaled Aref, asserted that regulating the weapons in the camps "is not just a Lebanese but also a Palestinian request."

Speaking to the Central News Agency, Aref said it is in the interest of Lebanon and the Palestinians to preserve arms inside camps to stop settlement projects and therefore these arms have a security, not a political, function.

Of course, the problem is, Israel has backed down from its settlements and are simply trying to build walls to protect what they have so this argument is false, though the PLO in SL is desparately trying to appeal to the "I hate Zionist" feelings in Lebanon as a political cover for maintaining arms and keeping the rightful enforcement of law in Lebanon (mainly the Lebanese government, police and military) from coming into their power domains. If that happened, then all that lovely donation money might actually go out of their pockets and so would their power as arbiters of Palesinian victimhood and the money that goes with it.

Unfortunately, I don't see 2006 as more calm or less violent than 2005. Hopefully, whatever happens, shakes things up for good and not for bad.

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