We are seeing yet again the bobbing and feinting, complex maneuvers, and pursuit of partial treatment for problems that have no solution.

 
We find it in relations between Israel and Palestine, with different moves toward Palestine West Bank and Palestine Gaza, between Israel and the US, as well as with Britain, Russia, and Iran, and among Israeli political parties toward what may become the Israeli government..
 
It ain't simple, or likely to be understood by simpletons.
 
The latest news from Palestine West Bank is that Israel is turning over the money withheld from taxes collected at its ports, which Israel stopped transferring when the West Bankers said they were going back to the UN and to the International Court of Justice.
 
Details are not all that clear. 
 
By one report, Israel will be withholding part of the money due for utilities and medical care.
 
By another report, those debts will be handled by negotiations.
 
What we see here is the short string that Israel holds over Palestine, but also the Israeli concern that it not pull the string too tight. Security personnel advised the government that further holding off the payments would work its way through Palestinian public servants not getting salaries, and add to the incentives for violence. 
 
Israelis may have to tolerate more Palestinian blather about turning to the "international community," but that can work two ways with respect to the International Court of Justice. Israeli officials are preparing a case against Palestine.
 
The UN ceased frightening us decades ago.
 
We hear that Palestine Gaza has yet to begin serious reconstruction. Lots of people are living in the rubble, much of which has not been cleared and very little construction begun. Very little of the contributions promised for reconstruction have been delivered.
 
Hamas has been hard pressed due more to Egyptian actions than Israeli. 
 
There, too, Israeli officials keep the strings tight, but not to the point of a stranglehold that will add to our problems. Supplies go in, and agricultural produce comes to us. Hamas taxes imports from Israel, which provide the mainstay of Gaza's economy, given Egypt's closing of tunnels used for smuggling, and clearing a significant swath of housing from the Egyptian side of the border.
 
With Britain, Israel has negotiated a program of academic exchanges, to be financed by contributions fro British Jews. Hopefully, that arrangement will counter to some extent the mad leftists--some of them Jews--who insist on an academic boycott.
 
Israel is not happy with Russia's sale of sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, and hints that they may also be going to Syria. Russia has complained about Israeli sale of munitions to Ukraine. Tit for tat? Finding leverage even in the place noted for its heights of historic anti-Semitism, along with Israel's failure to sign on to international condemnations of Russian actions against Ukraine? It's not a simple set of decisions.
 
Bibi's trip to Washington continues to echo. Who knows where anyone is with respect to negotiations with Iran? No one should bet even a small amount that things will be finalized by the June 30th deadline, and perhaps not for a long time after that. And if anyone seriously contemplates that a written agreement will solve the problems associated with Iran, those same people may be interested in buying one of the great bridges of the world.
 
Bibi's efforts to create a government are not all that different from his efforts to assure safety from Iran.
 
He'll probably get there, but currently he's past the first deadline, and has gotten another two weeks. Media personalities are all over the map speculating about which parties will get which ministries, and whether Bibi will reach agreement with the obvious partners or turn to Zionist Union, or maybe offer Yitzhak Herzog enough goodies so that he'll abandon Tsipi Livni and join a Bibi government as the head of Labor.
 
One of the problems in negotiations is associated with Sara's concern for Bibi's political partners. Ayelet Shaked was number #3 on the electoral list of Jewish Home, and wants a ministry. Yet she is an articulate and attractive young woman, who Sara is said to view as a threat.
 

Sara is herself #3 in the list of Bibi's wives, and has a history of guarding her status against those who might--or have--tempted him.
 
The cartoonist for Ha'aretz describes coalition negotiations with Bibi mixing the leaders of several parties in his cooking pot, and Sara keeping Ayelet away from the pot and getting ready to carve her into pieces.
 

 
Still to be heard from are 10 or more Likud MKs, several of whom may be thinking of themselves as Bibi's successor, sooner or later. Each wants something good in this government that will assure a lot of media attention. It'll be Bibi's task to downsize their ambitions, allot to a few what is left after passing out ministries to the minor parties, and perhaps  assure himself that the hottest competitors for his job don't get something good. 
 
Alas, it is the fate of leading politicians to deal with issues that have no solution.
 
There is enough extremism in both parts of Palestine to make it unlikely that we'll see a compromise that settles their issues with Israel. Yet the enthusiasm of leftists for Palestine will make the struggle with BDS and other madness continue as far into the future as we can see. 
 
Russia, Ukraine, Western Europe and the White House seem unlikely to solve what results from large Russian communities in Ukraine, corruption in Kiev, ambitions in Moscow, and lots of misery on the ground. 
 
Israeli politicians are not likely to curb the egos or aspirations that have led them into the game that is currently at the point of greatest excitement.
 
We'll all be living with Shiite ambitions coming out of Iran, as well as deadly competition between various forms of Islam.
 
Sooner or later one or more of those clusters of Muslims may turn against us, or against you wherever you are. Until then, however, the best news is that they are killing one another, weakening and postponing their capacity to become our primary worries.


-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Tel: +972-2-532-2725

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