Friday, November 09, 2007

Knesset Peace Math

I've occasionally played the Knesset peace math game, but Daniel Levy has put together a comprehensive post on where everyone stands. I don't remember exactly when this came down, but I though Avigdor Lieberman had signaled some flexibility on Jerusalem, whereas Levy claims he is an absolute rejectionist on that issue. Perhaps he "clarified" some statements when I was traveling. He also has 67 of the 120 votes in favor of serious peace moves, but that's including the Arab parties and assuming no one bolts from Kadima. It's possible Olmert could work that, especially if he can get some support from Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Where I found Levy's post most interesting is his analysis of intermediate steps:
"Of course much depends on what issue is being brought to a vote. Prisoner releases, checkpoint removal and easing of closures all do not require Knesset approval—they can be challenged by no-confidence motions but coalition allies (Shas, Yisrael Beteinu) have all opposed such measures in the past without threatening to bring down the government and that is unlikely to change.

"A settlement freeze, outpost removal, IDF redeployment and re-opening Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem also need not be taken to a Knesset vote—but these issues have not been tested in the current Knesset and the opposition would seize on any of them in order to push no confidence votes, pressure and embarrass reluctant coalition allies. IDF redeployment is the easiest to do politically but the most difficult to convince the security establishment on. The Knesset traffic can almost certainly bear the token removal of a few outposts—but not implementation of the actual Roadmap commitment of removing all outposts erected since March 2001.

"Declaring a settlement freeze would possibly take PM Olmert into new coalition territory and lead to a coalition re-shuffle. If the US is insistent and Olmert convincingly depicts the settlement freeze as the price for not making concessions elsewhere, for broader Arab participation in the process (i.e. Saudi Arabia) and for maintaining an international front against Iran, then the politics of a freeze can be surmounted with only limited and not fatal coalition damage. The East Jerusalem institutions would be a much more challenging political stretch, although it is worth noting that this is a Roadmap deliverable that the Palestinians rarely mention."

It is extremely frustrating that dismantling settlements which are illegal even under Israeli law is such a tough proposition politically.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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