Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5765 - April 20, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Iranian Connection

by E. Rauchberger

Ever since the Prime Minister unveiled his disengagement plan people have been asking, What happened to Sharon? What kind of transformation did he undergo? How is it that one of the most right-wing figures on the political scene, the founder and leader of the settlement movement, suddenly changed his stripes, adopting a distinctly left-wing policy?

So far an accurate answer to this question has not come forth. When Sharon tried to explain his turnaround nobody believed a word he said.

Several theories have been offered to explain Sharon's peculiar policy change: he wanted to get into the history books, to win a Nobel Prize, to receive recognition from the left-wing media or perhaps extract the Sharon family from the criminal charges against them. But with Sharon's trip to the US to meet with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other ranking government officials, the possibility of a connection between the disengagement plan and the Iranian nuclear program was raised.

For obvious reasons Israel is demanding that the US do everything it can to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. The coming six months is critical because the Iranians are coming very close to "the point of no return." After that it will be too late to take action.

Last week Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz appeared in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee saying that the time has come for the Americans to demand Europe take the lead in handling the Iranian issue.

The US has launched two military confrontations in recent years. One in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda, and another in Iraq to depose despot Saddam Hussein. To this day the Americans continue to get mired deep in the mud in Iraq, where they have suffered numerous casualties. The US public will invariably be very reluctant to give President Bush the green light to launch a third military operation, especially with Iran on the other side of the battle line.

Iran is a symbol of the Arab world and the US would need more than a good excuse to launch a military action or an action combining diplomacy and military forces. The Arab and Muslim world would find it very hard to accept military US activity or sanctions against Iran, especially since it would associate such a move with a desire to defend Israel.

Recently it was claimed the disengagement plan is essentially a deal the Americans made with Sharon. The State of Israel would withdraw from the Gaza Strip and evacuate the settlements thereby alleviating some of the tension between Israel and the Arab world over the Palestinian issue and in exchange the US would do its part with the Iranians. Thus the engagement plan—and perhaps other plans we have yet to find out about—was born . . .

Kahalon's Promotion

The day after the Knesset adjourned for Pesach, Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin set out for a round of visits in Central and South America. In his absence one of his deputies, Moshe Kahalon (Likud), was appointed to replace him. Since the law states when the president is out of the country the Knesset chairman serves as his replacement, when Katzav traveled abroad a few days after Rivlin's departure Kahalon became acting president as well.

Then Sharon flew to the US and it was discovered for a period of four hours there was nobody left in the country to replace him. His usual replacement, Ehud Olmert, was out of the country and Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres was, as usual, out of the country too. Even Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was out of the country.

Under these circumstances according to law any one of the government ministers can fill the post of Prime Minister and one of the proposals was to appoint . . . Moshe Kahalon. The person behind the suggestion jokingly said in the last week Kahalon had accumulated a wealth of experience in replacing high-ranking figures and therefore nobody was better suited for the job of acting prime minister.

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