Amir Peretz is no junior official who allowed himself, despite the rules of good governance, to speak to the Palestinian Authority chairman about a cease-fire in Gaza. This is the defense minister of the State of Israel, who is supposed to deal with everything connected to security, including a halt to shooting - if only he had the prime minister's trust. Israel reacted scornfully to Hamas' stated readiness to hold its fire only because that readiness had its roots in a telephone call between Peretz and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), which was mediated by MK Mohammed Barakeh.
The petty power struggle over a success that has yet to take place, and is genuinely intended to save lives, indicates failure in the way burning issues are treated, and an excessive focus on prestige and small-time politics, when cooperative and responsible leadership is what's needed.
It appears that Ehud Olmert's dissatisfaction with Peretz's independent initiative is actually an example of the prime minister's chronic dissatisfaction with all who surround him. These are people whom Olmert himself appointed and with whose assistance he is supposed to be running the country. The prime minister is signaling to the public that he himself does not see his government as suitable. If the defense minister is slated to be replaced, then Olmert must replace him. If the current acting justice minister is not to his liking, then Olmert should have chosen someone else for the job. If Avigdor Lieberman doesn't have authority on strategic affairs, as has been implied, then there was no need for Olmert to hand over these matters to him. The prime minister argues that the cabinet is not an open debating club, and in so doing buries any political initiative that arises - even if the one who suggests it is the foreign minister, a key part of whose role is to set policy.
The Qassam fire targeting Israel has not stopped, and the rockets appear likely to become ever more advanced and reach areas still further north than Sderot and Ashkelon. Talk of a cease-fire, no matter who is doing the talking, is the order of the day. It is impossible to safeguard the entire State of Israel - house by house, classroom by classroom - against threats from the north and the south, nor can citizens' safety be assured by development and acquisition of more and more weapons systems, each of which generally has its answer in some primitive and irritating response.
Since even an extensive military operation in Gaza, like that which the opposition warmly recommends, will not prevent a renewal of hostile activities via new creative means, we must ceaselessly and tirelessly strive for a cease-fire. We cannot stop the use of knives, suicide bombers, Qassams or tunnels through assassinations or tanks, but only through agreements. No weapon has yet been found that is more effective than a mutual cease-fire.
In order to lead the State of Israel, one needs more than the ability to survive. The prime minister must bring together a team of ministers he trusts, and give them status and authority. A year has passed, a war has passed, and it still doesn't feel like the government is governing.
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