While I was away, the dispute over the settler occupation of a house in Hebron between the Kiryat Arba settlement and the Cave of the Patriarchs stopped being about settlers and Palestinians and became about Israeli politics. Amir Peretz, who lags behind rivals Ami Ayalon and Ehud Barak in polls regarding the May 28 Labor leadership primary, wants to evacuate the building immediately, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won't let him
. In fact, Olmert and the Kadima party seem to feel the occupation is necessary for the security of Kiryat Arba in their master plan for the West Bank. I missed whatever information emerged about the circumstances under which the house was purchased, though if a Hebron Palestinian sold it voluntarily I hope he got away safely.
I can't help wondering if these discussions are related to an agreement recently made to begin evacuating 24 other West Bank settlements established since 2001
. I bet Peretz and Labor would yield on Kiryat Arba if they could get action on those. Olmert is citing American pressure, which I suspect is becoming the all-purpose excuse of a weak Prime Minister who has to please everyone from Labor to the YB and Kadima's right to keep his government intact.