Analysis: Looking forward, looking back

"They have sat their shiva," says one MK. "But now is the time when the real opinions come out."

By
August 20, 2006 23:25
2 minute read.
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After a month of near-silence in the Knesset during the war against Hizbullah, politicians appeared to have found their voices again over the weekend, and reporters returned to beepers flooded with their latest proclamations. "They have sat their shiva for the country's losses, they have paid their respects," said a veteran Knesset member. "But now is the time when the real opinions come out." These opinions appear to have taken on three forms: those looking backwards, those looking forwards and those stuck in the middle. The MKs who fell into these lines did so irrespective of party affiliation or background. The smallest of the three groups is the MKs who appeared to be taking a look back at the events of the past month and assuming an active role in the rehabilitation of the North. A slightly larger group of MKs is already looking forward and devising strategy for a possible clash with Syria and Iran. By far the largest group, however, appeared to be those stuck in the middle, too busy flinging mud at each other to do much of either. Which group was most valuable to the State of Israel, however, depended on whom you asked. "It is tempting at this time to just cast blame at each other and vie for headlines," said MK Ami Ayalon (Labor). "But it is most important that we do more than that." Ayalon can be counted among the MKs in the "backward group" and has already taken charge of the Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee for the examination of northern communities and their security situation. "At this time it is most important that we look forward and try to prepare for what lies ahead," said MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud). "We were caught with our pants down and we can't let that happen again." With his experience as former chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Steinitz has already suggested that Israel prepare for "the next battle" with Syria and Iran. "The prime minister needs to establish a framework for a probe to look into the [military operations]," said Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) after the cabinet meeting Sunday. "That framework should present its findings within a short period of time. Along with Culture and Sport Minister Ophir Paz-Pines, Dichter has said that the Israel public deserved to understand the decisions made by the government and military over the past month. The call for an inquiry or probe committee into the events of the past month has been sounded by at least 52 MKs since the war ended. While some have argued for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to head the inquiry, others have called for a separate parliamentary body or an inquiry launched by legal authorities. "There is a reason that the calls for an inquiry make the most headlines," said a veteran MK. "As long as the Knesset finds a scapegoat, the finger won't be pointed their way." With the Knesset nearing the midpoint of its summer recess, few if any of the MKs appeared poised to take a break.•

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