Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Other predictions aren't going so well. Specifically, I am obviously out of touch on Israeli politics.
First I predicted that Sharon would not die this year. Well, he's not dead yet, but for all practical purposes that prediction was flat wrong.
Next, I argued that Kadima needed most urgently to legitimize its new leader, whether Olmert or whoever, by means of an election, if it was to hold together, to say nothing of actually winning an election. Looks like I was wrong about that: the party has closed ranks around Olmert and its electoral standing has held, without any electoral process, whether primary or caucus, being established. I keep expecting Israelis to behave as though they want to live under a normally functioning political system, but that's not the way the country works I guess.
Next, I predicted that Sharon's incapacitation might - might, mind you - give Shinui a new lease on life. Well, that was flat wrong, too: not only has Shinui gone from something like 4 to 6 seats in the polls to zero, but the party has now split in half and its founder has quit. I can't believe the religious, economic and political questions that animated Shinui are banished forever from the Israeli political scene, but it seems like their constituency is happy for the moment to vote Kadima to ensure a resolution - one way or the other - of the existential question of setting the border, and let all other questions wait until another day. Which, when I articulate it, I knew would be the case. I just thought that, since Shinui was the most obvious coalition partner for Kadima, and would more narrowly focus on religious disestablishment, economic liberalism and political reform, that enough voters would pick Shinui to keep the party alive. Looks like I was way wrong.
So, I should stop predicting, right? Wrong. Can't stop myself.
Hamas looks like they've done well in their election. They will enter the government of the Palestinian Authority. Israel will continue to speak to the PA and attempt to start negotiations, but will not speak - formally at least - to Hamas ministers. This refusal will be used as an excuse by the PA to justify the failure of these negotiations. Israel will wind up withdrawing from much of Judea and Samaria without an agreement. Hamas will not disarm, and Israel will in short order wind up in a low-level shooting war with the PA and/or Hamas. Israel will unilaterally declare its borders, which will not be recognized by anyone but Micronesia. Not all of this will happen this year, but I expect all of this to happen.