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Tar Heel Pundits
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Friday, February 25, 2005

Israel and the Palestinians

Charles Krauthammer writes today about the Israeli two-pronged strategy to stop terrorism and reach peace---pulling out of Gaza and the West Bank, and the completion of the fence dividing Palestinian territory from Israeli. He says that the movement of Israelis back behind the fence will take away terrorism as a weapon that the Palestinians can use against Israel. I am not sure that the fence is the ultimate solution, since terrorism comes in many forms, but its effectiveness in preventing the type of suicide bomber attacks that plagued Israel during the Second Intafadia cannot be denied.

Another article containing positive news about the Middle East reports that the Palestinian parliament forced Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia to dump his slate of cabinet ministers that were former Arafat cronies and instead approved a slate of reformers.
With a few exceptions, the 24-member cabinet is made up of men with little experience in elective office, unlike the old cabinet and alternative lists for the new one informally floated this week by Qureia, which were drawn mostly from members of parliament and stalwarts of Arafat's Fatah movement, the dominant organization in the Palestinian Authority.

Qureia, a member of Fatah who was appointed prime minister by Arafat 15 months ago, was forced to accept the wholesale shake-up by a newly independent and assertive Palestinian Legislative Council. Lawmakers, after years of subservience in which they simply rubber-stamped cabinets stacked with Arafat cronies, exercised their oversight powers for the first time and forced real change on the Palestinian Authority's executive branch.

Even members of Fatah, which controls about two-thirds of the legislature's seats, turned against Qureia and his proposals for a limited cabinet shuffle. Seemingly liberated by the death of Arafat three months ago, and with an eye toward parliamentary elections in July, lawmakers across the board demanded a major housecleaning.
This is very good. The Palestinians used to be a one-man state, composed of Arafat. Now they have had an election, and while the winner of the election was never seriously in doubt, the people were able to exercise the franchise for the first time. Then this cabinet shuffle forced by the Palestinian parliament, showing that the parliament really does have power and that the parliamentary elections mean something. This is old-style politics at work---I hope it continues.


posted by John Branch @ 8:11 AM


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