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Friday, August 25, 2006


Summer of Discontent in Israel

Ehud Olmert On Shaky Grounds

Less than two weeks after the cease fire agreement, a movement calling for resignation of Prime Minister Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz for mishandling the war is gaining strength. In a report filed from Jerusalem, Rory McCarthy of The Guardian wrote: "A poll in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed 63% want Mr Olmert to go. The defence minister, Amir Peretz, appears even more vulnerable with 74% calling for his resignation, while 54% want the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, to resign as well." And in the mess that is Iraq Shias and Sunnis continue to kill each other in a frenzy. Ellen Knickmeyer in the Post: "These cases do not need to go back to the religious courts," said the commander, who sat elbow to elbow with a fellow fighter in a short-sleeved, striped shirt. Neither displayed weapons. "Our constitution, the Koran, dictates killing for those who kill."

The Guardian

The poll reflects growing disillusionment within Israeli society about the 34-day conflict with Hizbullah and the fact that the country emerged without any clear victory over the Lebanese militia. The two Israeli soldiers whose capture triggered the conflict are still not free. The war claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people in Lebanon, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them waving Israeli flags, gathered at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem to call for Mr Olmert's resignation. Among them were military reservists who have led criticism of the war as well as Moshe and Riva Moskal, whose son Rafael, a 21-year-old staff sergeant, was killed in the fighting.

"We think this country deserves better leadership," said Mrs Moskal. "The north was bombed and they didn't do anything. They failed there, they failed here," she said. "We feel lost. We feel there is no leadership and we feel as parents that we lost the most precious thing we had.

"We believe it was our duty to raise a voice of protest. This beautiful Israeli nation is strong but has values which seem to have been lost in the last few years."

Washington Post

His comments offered a rare acknowledgment of the role of the Mahdi Army in the sectarian bloodletting that has killed more than 10,400 Iraqis in recent months. The Mahdi Army is the militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, now one of the most powerful figures in the country.


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