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August 2000 - Current Index Complete Index This Month     MiddleEast.Org 8/21/00
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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/21/00:

What's happening right now in the "Peace Process" is not really about a Palestinian State.  The decision for a kind of rump and castrated Palestinian Statelet was taken some time ago by Israel and the U.S., Arafat and company going along with it because after so many bad decisions he no longer has any good options, as well as  to get the huge bucks and priviledges that go along with doing what Israel and the U.S. want done.

What's really going on at the moment though are short-term political contests in both Israel and the U.S. that are determining the pace and style of things, with the Palestinians falling into but another trap where so many promises will be made, so few will be kept, and the real long-term fate of the Palestinian people will be worse than before.

Ehud Barak's government and image are in free-fall.  Last week it was the Deputy Head of his Office of Prime Minister who resigned with a scathing indictment.  Today it is the Head of the Prime Minister's Office, Barak's Chief of Staff, who has worked extremely closely with Barak for years.  Barak's only chance for salvation now is to come up with a political deal that will look so good in the short-term that he can get reelected using it...whatever the eventual results.

And in the U.S., Bill Clinton is clearly attempting to bring about some kind of a foreign policy extravangaza on the White House lawn to boost Hilary into the U.S. Senate and Al and Joe in the White House when he departs.  It's the old "October Surprise" approach -- the term going back to 1980 when Jimmy Carter desperately attempted to get the hostages in Iran released before the election (instead they were let go on the day Reagan took office after considerable behind-the-scenes manuevering).  Problem is, this extravaganza will only be one that looks good when unwrapped but will quickly fade and dissolve as it is subjected to realities on the ground in the years to come.

                     BARAK'S CHIEF OF STAFF RESIGNS
JERUSALEM (AP by Laurie Copans, 21 August)) - One of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's top aides resigned Monday, the second confidant to quit in a week amid complaints that
the Israeli leader ignores advice and fails to delegate responsibility.
The resignation of Haim Mendel-Shaked, the chief of staff of the prime
minister's office, is the latest sign that Barak's government is in trouble.
Last month, Barak lost his parliamentary majority, with hawkish parties
quitting the coalition in protest over concessions to the Palestinians in
peace talks. Observers say early elections are likely after parliament
reconvenes in late October.
``Ehud Barak is now driving on the rims of his tires; the air has gone out
of his tires,'' commentator Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yediot Ahronot
newspaper.  ``In war, he says, when they shoot your tires, you drive on
whatever you have.''
Mendel-Shaked had worked closely with Barak for 15 years, serving as his
chief adviser when Barak was army chief of staff in the early 1990s.
Mendel-Shaked offered to resign in early summer, but Barak asked him to stay
on until the fall. His resignation Monday apparently was triggered by an
article in Yediot Ahronot in which he is quoted as saying Barak refused to
delegate responsibility and sidestepped his advisers.
``Barak has stopped functioning as a prime minister and turned into his own
chief of staff,'' read a banner headline in the newspaper Monday, next to a
picture of Mendel-Shaked.
Another friend from Barak's military days, Shimon Batat, who served as
deputy chief of staff in the prime minister's office, resigned last week.
Barak's second military secretary, Gadi Eizenkott, is also considering
stepping down, Yediot Ahronot said.
A lawmaker of the opposition Likud party, Danny Naveh, told Israel radio
Barak should acknowledge his failures at leadership and resign.
Barak's rule has teetered on the edge of collapse since three coalition
parties resigned last month, leaving him with only 42 supporters in the
120-seat parliament.

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