An Event and a Regional Trend

Olmert’s Political Shock Escalates Israel’s confusion

Israel enters the labyrinth of a new political crisis in the light of the investigations with the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the rise of political and press calls for ousting him amid the political forces’ endeavors to push to early parliamentary elections.
The remarkable development yesterday is that the police interrogated Ehud Olmert concerning leaks from his office about the failure of a big security operation, which was decided in Beirut’s southern suburb in cooperation with active Lebanese sides, which are groups from the team of the representative Walid Jumblatt according to the Israeli press, which also said these groups are involved in assassinating the leader Emad Mughniyeh.
The meeting between Olmert and Mahmud Abbas did not lead to any important results. Reports said that the complexes remained the same concerning the refugees, Jerusalem, the borders of the Palestinian state and the timetable in addition to the settlement blocs and the checkpoints and crossings’ measures that Israel refuses to modify.
Meanwhile, the resistance factions continue their confrontation of the occupation forces by attacking colonies with rockets. This enhanced the debate in Israel on the benefit of the determination to invade Gaza.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Al-Siniora Government and the Abyss

The press focused on the decision of Al-Sinora government which puts Lebanon on the edge of political deterioration. Despite the warnings and the condensed phone calls that al-Siniora received and despite telling those who called him that he will avoid confrontation and leave the issue of the airport and the communications network to the judiciary, the minister of information Ghazi al-Aridi announced dangerous decisions after a session which was described as the longest in the history of governments:
- 1. Al-Siniora’s government decided to return head of the airport security to the army and consequently ousting him from his position. Reports said the decision was taken under the threats of Representative Walid Jumblatt.
- 2. Al-Siniora government decided to confront Hezbollah’s communications’ network and deal with it through the security organs and the judiciary and sue the leadership of the resistance and all those who participate in the network. The government also decided to write to the Arab League concerning this network describing it as an aggression on the sovereignty of the state. Analysts deduced that this means announcing war on Hezbollah.
- 3. Political and press circles anticipate the reaction of the opposition’s political leaders against these escalating steps especially after deputy secretary general of Hezbollah announced that the network of communication is important as the resistance weapons and hand which will target it will be dealt with on this basis.
- 4. The house speaker described the condition as dangerous, saying the loyalists dropped the option of dialogue, which is the only outlet from the crisis. For his part, General Michel Aoun stressed that resistance uses its network of communications to defend Lebanon describing the loyalists’ attack as an extension of the foreign decision concerning the hot summer in Lebanon.
- 5. Attention is focused on the process of the strike movement which will start tomorrow in response to the call of the popular and workers syndicates.
- 6. Some analysts expect that the second step of political explosion will be holding the presidential elections with the present representatives in a meeting for the loyal representatives, which will be chaired by deputy house speaker Farid Makkary. The house speaker Nabih Berri warned of this saying it will take the country to the unknown.
Opposition sources said that what happened at the meeting of al-Siniora’s government confirms the existence of a plan behind the escalation which is linked to the Security Council’s session which will take place on May 8. The sources also anticipate the new intervention of the US and France, in coordination with Saudi Arabia, which will coincide with Bush’s tour in the area.

Arab and International Press

The Syrian daily Tichrin said the US message which was conveyed by Condoleezza Rice is clear: the Palestinian people in Gaza should be eliminated while the people in the West Bank should be given an economic chance.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that Rice talks about a possible agreement between Israel and the Palestinian authority and that the five suspended topics can be solved.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij said the results of occupation in Palestine and Iraq are disastrous.
Leonid Alexandrovich said in an article that the Arab states which supported the idea of holding a peace conference are bored of waiting and some say it will be held on June but a lot of doubts surround its results.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said the strike of May 7 will be big and the political events in the country move to the worst.
As-Safir said a team of international investigators started to focus on the file of assassinations and explosions that followed the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri saying that informed sources revealed to as-Safir that the international committee discovered new data related to the assassination of former secretary general of the Lebanese communist party Georges Hawi that may lead the case to a new track.
Al-Akhbar said the cabinet ousted Wafig Shkair and considered Hezbollah’s network of communication as an aggression on the state pointing out that the country entered a dangerous stage in the light the government’s decisions.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said it seems that Walid Jumblatt and his team wants to push the country to an explosion that burns the green and the dry.
The NTV said the cabinet was unable to control its political nerves so it discussed dangerous issues like Hezbollah’s communications network.
The OTV wondered if al-Siniora’s government will complete the equipments of al-Hariri war on Lebanon and the Lebanese.
The LBC said the issue is complicated and the general workers union called fro raising the wages.
The Future said the stand of the workers union increased the fears from possible riots during the strike.

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on in Arabic, English, French, German, and Spanish languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English and Spanish.