Monday, February 7, 2011

Feb. 7: Israel Must Get Its Own House In Order

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Obviously, Israel can't forget the constantly changing situation in Egypt. But the Jewish state has its own messes to clean up.

Never mind the 11 years of denial that center-right and hard-right governments have been living through with regard to their need to deal properly with the Palestinian issue and their place in the Middle East. If the Likud Party were to have an animal as its symbol the way American parties do, the ostrich wouldn't be inappropriate.

Until the past few years, Israel had never faced the steady stream of political scandals it now can't seem to shake. Since 2006, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former President Moshe Katsav and current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have faced various investigations; Katsav has been found guilty of rape.

Now, when tension over Egypt's future is high, Israel has a political drama that more closely resembles the Three Stooges than "The West Wing." The country has leadership problems in its two most critical entities, the Israel Defense Forces and Mossad, its main intelligence agency.

Both agencies are trying to get new leaders; the IDF has had problems with its previous selection having to withdraw over land zoning issues. The Mossad, known as a crackerjack intelligence agency, is having to deal with criticism for not predicting in advance what was about to happen next door. Meanwhile, Defense Minister and former Prime Minsiter Ehud Barak recently had a divorce with the Labor Party over his continued tenure in the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Not exactly the kind of actions to inspire confidence in Israel at this moment.

Netanyahu has expressed concerns about the leadership crisis in Egypt and the future of the 1979 peace treaty between the two nations. He should turn his attention, instead, to getting Israel's house in order. Whether that happens has just as much of a bearing on the peace process.

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