Plans for Arafat's death, while those militant settlers maneuver

Arafat's sudden illness has prompted a flurry of activity all over. The Israeli military is of course concerned about what might happen after he dies, to the extent that rioting Palestinians might overrun settlements and military positions in the territories, or that Jordan, pressed between the West Bank and Iraq, could get violent.

Within the West Bank, occupation policy is tense (via Haaretz):

IDF commanders were instructed, should such a situation arise, to do everything in their power to prevent a flare-up and reduce friction between troops and Palestinian demonstrators in West Bank and Gaza towns. Even so, commanders were also told to make every effort to prevent demonstrations from overrunning IDF roadblocks and settlements in the territories.

In the Ramallah area, IDF troops were put on a raised level of alert, fearing that the gravity of Arafat's condition would spark a wave of Palestinian demonstrations.

Military sources believe that the causes of Arafat's deterioration would have a direct effect on the extent to which Israel is held responsible for his death, even though the IDF is not particularly active in Ramallah recently nor has it strictly maintained the siege on his headquarters.

Still, IDF sources say that should Arafat die, soldiers will be told to respect Palestinian mourning rituals, thereby avoiding a situation in which expressions of joy of Israeli soldiers cause emotions to ignite.

Early IDF discussions on the matter included the question of where Arafat would be buried. The PA chairman had in the past stated that he wished to be buried on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, although it is unlikely that Israel would ever agree to this.

"Divvying Up Arafat's Powers." At least the Palestinians are already planning a round of elections in a couple months.

Inside Israel, we now see the emergence of a messianic, pro-settler faction within Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu. We need to fear this man:

Netanyahu revolted against Sharon on live television. For three years he has been repeating to his people that he would not depose the prime minister because he is not willing to sit on a chair that is bleeding. This week he did, although in an embarrassing way, but there is no need to worry. He will recover. The person who managed to recover after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and go on to win the elections will ultimately succeed in defeating the elderly leader who is now clinging to the tattered remnants of his party.

Henceforth it will be like in the period prior to the 1996 elections. Netanyahu is now conducting a campaign for the leadership of the Likud party and in order to do this he is turning to his home camp, the Yesha (settlers' acronym for the territories: Judea, Samaria and Gaza - which also means "salvation" in Hebrew) Council, the courts of the National Religious Party rabbis and Shas leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef. When the moment rolls around he will run a national campaign - he once again will go back to being "moderate" and speak to Shinui voters.

The dumb Shas party is against withdrawal, says the settler news.

"Dismantling Jewish communities in Gush Katif and northern Samaria would endanger Israel," Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Saturday night. "Next, they will chase Jews out of Ashkelon, [West Bank city Hebron] Hevron and Be'er Sheva; there will be no end!"

Speaking in his weekly Saturday night sermon, which drew much more press coverage than usual given its political content and ramifications, Rabbi Yosef ruled that the 11 Shas MKs - and others - must vote against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. The Rabbi's decision stonewalled Sharon’s attempt to win an impressive majority in the Knesset when the disengagement bill comes to a first reading on Tuesday.

The rightwing WorldNetDaily reported it believed that the ailing Mr. Arafat prefers that Kerry wins. This item via the settler news service Arutz Sheva. It's a one-time opportunity for progress, eh? What kinds of shakeups for the Middle East?

A writeup on CounterPunch critical of Thomas Friedman's sudden turn against the Bush Administration because it regards the Israeli-American hegemon issue as something transmitted via TV.

In some random domestic headlines,

Is Bush's website blocking international visitors?

Tom DeLay's corruption may bite him on the ass in the election, before he goes down for certain indictment. Wouldn't that be sweet if Texas voters knocked him out first?

Ralph Nader has a letter from a Minnesota highway. Fuck him and the tarmac he rides on.

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