Well, first it was the issue of a suspected bribe that Olmert and his wife took — conveyed by way of an apartment sold to them at $500,000 less than market value. And now the State Comptroller is charging in a report he has just released that Olmert, when serving as minister of industry, trade and labor, was guilty of cronyism: making appointments on a political basis — without following proper procedures or giving qualified individuals a chance for the positions.
This has not gone down well with Knesset members either on the left or right. MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union/NRP) has declared his intention to convene the Knesset Lobby for Fighting Corruption in the Public Sector, which he heads, and to summon Olmert to appear before it. We can only hope that Olmert’s days as prime minister are numbered.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a TV interview yesterday in which he said he would not have ordered the capture of the two Israeli soldiers if he had known what the Israeli response would be. This certainly calls into question the perception that he thinks he “won.”
My take is that he is now curtailing his former braggadocio and assuming this more “regretful” stance because of criticism being leveled at him from within Lebanon by factions blaming him for what befell the country during the war. “Who asked you to bring this trouble on us?” is the charge now being made. His response: “I didn’t intend to bring this on the country.”
Discussions are under way with regard to increases in the defense budget, aimed at “improving the army’s preparedness for future challenges.” There is currently a debate as to whether lack of funds was responsible for a certain military lack of preparedness.
It has been pointed out in several quarters that a lack of supplies and equipment for fighting the war (e.g., no bullet proof vests for reserve troops) was the result of the considerable military expenditure made for the “disengagement” a year ago. Quite frankly, this sort of information makes me want to weep.
Interesting. Surprising. Ghazi Hamad, a former newspaper editor and now a (Hamas) spokesperson for the PA, wrote an article yesterday that, according to Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post, appeared on several PA news websites. In it he describes the severe deterioration of life in Gaza and holds armed groups — and not Israel — responsible. “Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs… I remember the day when Israel withdrew… We heard a lot about a promising future in the Gaza Strip.” But, he says, the “culture of life” has been replaced. “Life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden.
“We’re always afraid to talk about our mistakes. We’re used to blaming others.” But, declared Hamad, it’s time for some soul searching.
Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) was in town and made some interesting proposals yesterday. American aid to Lebanon, he said, should be held up until Lebanon agrees to allow international troops to patrol with its forces at the Syrian border. Further, he plans to file legislation for Israel to receive reconstruction aid. “It would be singularly unfair and inequitable in the wake of this disaster to have aid flow to one party… but not to the other victims.” Indeed!
The Ministry of Environment reports that some 12,000 buildings, including public structures were damaged by Hezbollah-launched rockets during the war; some 2,000 buildings were destroyed. With all the pictures of damage in Lebanon, one does not often hear about this. This is information that should be broadcast widely.
Of more than passing interest: Lebanon has demanded that Palestinians in refugee camps near the Litani River disarm in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1701 (which calls for the disarming of all militias). The request was directed to Fatah operative in Lebanon, Abbas Za’aki. The demand was rejected and the resolution was termed “illegal” because it doesn’t provide for the “right of return.”
Armed Palestinians in Lebanon, I have reason to believe, have cooperated with Hezbollah — storing weapons, etc. How Fatah fits into this picture is something I cannot answer at present, but it strikes me that the answer is likely of considerable consequence.
See my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info .