Israel. Ehud Barak, leader of the newly formed
left-center alliance, One Israel, received 56.1% of the vote
in the May 17 election. He thus defeated incumbent Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the conservative
Likud. In the parliamentary elections (Knesset), held at the
same time, things did not go so well for An Israel. The
alliance took home 26 of Knesset's 120 seats, a decrease of
eight compared to the 1996 election. However, for Likud,
things went even worse - the party lost 15 seats and stayed
on 19 seats. The ultra-Orthodox Shas went ahead with seven
mandates to 17, despite the fact that its then leader Arye
Deri had been sentenced in March to four years in prison.
bribery and fraud.
In early July, Barak succeeded in uniting conflicting
wills in a government supported by 75 seats in the Knesset.
Shas and several other religious parties were included in
the coalition, but its dominant members were considered to
be leading the peace process in port. Among the members of
the government were David Levy, Foreign Minister and Deputy
Prime Minister, Yitzhak Mordechai, Minister of Transport and
Deputy Prime Minister, and Shimon Peres, Minister of
Countryaah official website, Netanyahu resigned from the Knesset after the election,
and a week later he also left his post as leader of Likud.
New Likud leader became veteran politician and General Ariel
Sharon, Foreign Minister in the latest Likud government.
The election brought some progress for the Palestinian
minority. Nawaf Massalha from An Israel became the
Palestinian who reached the highest post so far in Israel when
he was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister.
During the election campaign, Barak promised an Israeli
withdrawal from southern Lebanon within a year of taking
office as head of government. Otherwise, the debate before
and after the elections was characterized less by security
policy and more by the relationship to Orthodox Jewish
doctrine. In February, more than 200,000 Orthodox Jews
outside the Supreme Court of I demonstrated in protest
against what they believed was religious persecution within
the legal system. In August, contradictions arose when a
250-tonne turbine was to be shipped from Tel Aviv to
Ashkelon. In order for other traffic to be disturbed as
little as possible, transport had been planned for a Sabbath
evening. But under Orthodox law, no work is allowed on the
Sabbath, and the plan caused the Orthodox government parties
to threaten to leave the coalition.
Opposition between Christians and Muslims occurred around
a square in the city of Nazareth on the West Bank. The
city's Christians wanted to reserve the square for pilgrims
waiting for the turn of the millennium, while an Islamist
organization wanted to build a mosque there. The government
of I brokered an agreement that meant that the pilgrims got
a smaller place than planned, while the Islamists were
allowed to start building the mosque only after the New
The Supreme Court ruled in September that the security
service Shin Bet must not use physical force during
questioning. "Mild physical pressures" were previously
allowed against persons suspected of terrorist acts.
400,000 public servants strike in March for wage
increases of 8.1%. The strike was canceled when the parties
agreed on wage increases of 4.8%.
Israel was severely affected during the year by the
drought that characterized the Middle East. In November, it
rained in the country for the first time in nine months.
Roadmap for war
On September 11, Israel's security cabinet announced that it would "remove
Arafat from Palestine". Initially, there was uncertainty as to whether the
government simply wanted to deport him or whether he wanted to execute him. That
doubt removed Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when, three days later, in an
interview on Israeli TV, he declared that the government wanted to execute
Arafat. The statement triggered fierce international condemnation - even from
the United States - and the government had to declare the day after the
statement stood for Olmert's own account. However, despite its formal protests,
the United States reiterated Israeli arguments a few hours later: "Arafat was
the main obstacle to peace," and on September 18, the United States, with the
threat of veto, halted a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for
the death threats to Arafat.
On October 4, a 29-year-old Palestinian woman from Jenin conducted a suicide
attack against a Haifa restaurant. The action cost 19 lives and approx. 100
wounded. In July, the woman had her brother and cousin killed by the Israeli
military. Israel immediately responded again by bombing a camp in Syria. Israel
claimed it was a camp where members of Islamic Jihad were trained, but later
admitted that its images of the area were 1 year old. Syria objected to the war
and brought the case to the UN Security Council, where the United States, with
the threat of veto, prevented the adoption of a resolution condemning Israel for
escalating tension in the Middle East.
The air strike in Syria was termed by the Arab League as state terrorism and
was criticized by most countries - including the Europeans. Israel declared that
it would continue to attack "terrorist bases" in its neighboring
countries. Several observers felt that Israel wanted to provoke Syria into
counter-attacks. It would trigger a North American invasion from Iraq. The
United States had already repeatedly threatened to invade Syria. But the real
target of Israel's escalation may also have been Iran. The Israeli government
declared on several occasions that it regarded the Tehran clergy as its main
enemy and threatened to bomb the country's nuclear reactors.
In February 2004, Sharon surprisingly stated that he wanted to remove the
Israeli settlements in Gaza and concentrate the settlements in the West Bank
instead. The proposal had several purposes. First, to show Sharon as moderate to
the outside world, and to turn Gaza into a large concentration camp without
Israeli settlers, and instead to concentrate on settlers in the West Bank, where
the original Palestinian population would be concentrated in mutually isolated
Bantustans. Ultimately, Sharon's plan in June was voted down in his own
party. But the plan had borne fruit anyway. In March, the EU had prevented
Israel from being placed before the International Court of Justice in The Hague
for the construction of the West Bank wall.
After an elongated decision-making process and bitter resistance internally
in Likud, Israeli settlements in Gaza were finally escaped in August 2005.
Sharon's rationale was clear. It was simply too costly to maintain the
settlements in Gaza, and the settlements had to be concentrated in the occupied
Due to the strong internal contradictions in Likud, Sharon broke out in
October and formed a new right-wing party, Kadima. He was joined by his main
allies while his most serious political opponent, Benjamin Netanyahu, remained
in Likud. The scaling-up was the preparation for the implementation of Sharon's
ambitious plans for the occupied West Bank, and specifically a tactical
political action up to the spring 2006 parliamentary elections, in which Sharon
wanted to get rid of his political opponents in Likud. However, Sharon never
managed to unveil his political plans, because in January 2006 he was struck by
a severe hemorrhage that sent him into a deep coma. Ehud Olmert assumed the post
of acting prime minister. Sharon's plan with the West Bank was to abandon some
settlements and in turn annex the rest of the West Bank - across international
law and countless UN resolutions. This plan was now carried on by Olmert, who in
the March elections together with Kadima got 22% of the vote. The Labor Party
got 15% and Likud 9%.
In 2006, Israel continued its efforts to crush Palestinian
self-government. The efforts were reinforced when Hamas won the Palestinian
elections in January 2006 and formed the government in April. Israel again
responded with withholding tax and customs revenue that would otherwise be
transferred to the autonomy. At the same time, a total blockade was imposed
against Gaza. The blockade, after a few months, led to a real famine in Gaza,
where the hospitals had long since run out of medicine.
July 2006. New war against Palestine and Lebanon
Israel's frustration at Palestinian autonomy did not collapse, despite
Israeli economic boycott and international political and economic boycott in
mid-2006 led to the military drawing up new plans for re-occupation of Gaza with
the aim of crushing Hamas and self-government. There was just one pretext for
the invasion. That came when a Palestinian group in late June attacked an
Israeli military post outside Gaza in revenge for Israel's massacre on the Gaza
beach on June 9. 2 Israeli soldiers were killed and a third arrested and taken
to Gaza. Israel is now re-invading Gaza, bombing the refugee camps and Gaza
City, defaming the Palestinian ministries and kidnapping 2/3 of the Palestinian
MPs. But despite Israel's killing of hundreds of civilians and armed
Palestinians, autonomy did not collapse.
On July 12, Israel launched a large-scale attack on Lebanon. The attack had
been under planning for 1-2 years and just needed a pretext to get started. The
attack plans were accelerated due to US plans to attack Iran. Israel and the
United States acknowledged that a North American attack on Iran will trigger
rocket attacks on Israel from Hezbollah's rocket batteries in Lebanon. These
should therefore be put out of play before an attack by the United States on
Therefore, on July 12, Israel sent a unit across the border to
Lebanon. Hezbollah captured 2 of the invading soldiers and killed five Israeli
soldiers who tried to rescue their comrades. Hezbollah declared that the two
arrested soldiers could be exchanged against Lebanese political prisoners in
Israel. Prison exchanges that have occasionally been conducted between the two
parties since the 1990s. However, it was blatantly rejected by Israel, who had a
completely different agenda.
(Seymour Hersh: Annals of National Security. Watching Lebanon (The New Yorker
August 21, 2006))
Israel now had its pretext, and launched its planned attack on Lebanon. It
was launched with massive attacks on southern Lebanon and the capital Beirut.
bombed the country's international airport - for the first time in 10 years. In
the discourse of Israel - and in the Western media - the attack was referred to
as a campaign, not as a war, and the goal as Hezbollah. However, the reality was
quite another. Throughout the 32-day war, Israel used its total dominion in the
air to bomb Lebanon's infrastructure: roads, bridges, power plants, electricity
supplies and large urban areas. Israel was targeted by killing as many civilians
as possible with bombing of neighborhoods and refugees' convoys. Managed. About
1100 Lebanese civilians were killed - in front of 41 civilians killed in
From the beginning of the war, Israel declared openly that the goal was to
crush Hezbollah politically and militarily. To ensure this, Israel should spend
8-10 days. Someone had forgotten that Israel tried the same in vain in
1982-2000, while occupying greater or lesser parts of Lebanon. Throughout the
war, Israel and the United States also reduced this goal and the deadlines
continued to grow. On the last day of the war, Hezbollah fired 250 rockets into
Israel - the highest number in the entire war - and thus clearly indicated that
the organization's attack capability was unimpeded.
While Hezbollah previously rarely sent Katyuasha rockets over Israel, after
Israel's attack, this became a daily occurrence with 50-250 daily attacks
sending 300,000 Israelis on the run. While Hezbollah had not previously sent
rockets deeper into Israel, the organization now sent rockets over the port city
of Haifa and even further south. It fell completely behind the Israeli military
analysts. They also realized that Hezbollah was able to hit and lower several
Israeli naval vessels participating in the blockade of Lebanon.