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A tiny National Union faction demands the authorization of several outposts, extending settlements in Judea and Samaria, as the price for its joining Netanyahu’s coalition. While every other party wants money and portfolios, the National Union exhibits a refreshing honesty to its constituency. The NU’s demands are largely symbolic, as they seek to lock Netanyahu into a confrontation with peacenik defeatists.

Without the National Union, Netanyahu’s coalition would be the narrowest possible: 61:59.

The Israeli media has become hysterical in calling on Admiral Eli Marom to step down from the Navy’s helm. Marom’s sins are unbearable: he frequented a Tel Aviv strip bar.

The admiral’s behavior fell short of the Pirates of the Caribbean or, for that matter, of US Navy sailors, whom the mayor of Haifa welcomed back enthusiastically after local prostitutes and drink-houses suffered their absence for some years.

Admiral Marom greatly improved the Israeli Navy and restructured the little-used branch into a powerful support for ground operations, such as in the Cast Lead.

BOI head Stanley Fischer lashed out against Netanyahu’s plan to lower income tax from the staggering level of 46 percent. Fischer’s argument that lower taxes would create budget deficits is misplaced.

The proper way to cut deficits is to eliminate the mammoth pork-barrel spending that plagues Israeli bureaucracy.
Without the lowering of income taxes, many Israeli companies will not weather the crisis, and the budget will suffer anyway. If anything, Netanyahu’s 9 percent tax cut is insufficient.

Bank of Israel has exhausted its arsenal of anti-crisis measures, and the Israeli banking system is heading into free fall.

Netanyahu, allegedly a staunch free marketeer, has vowed to prevent companies from laying off workers who became unnecessary during the crisis.

Hamas again arrested Hezbollah’s man in Gaza, Ahmad Salah, for launching rockets at Israel without Hamas’ permission.

Hamas’ policy on permissions is inconsistent. Sometimes, the terrorist group genuinely seeks to maintain ceasefire, and bans rocket launches. Other times, it only seeks to establish its military monopoly by demanding compliance from other terrorist organizations.

Salah was released soon afterward.

Earlier, Olmert had promised retaliation against Lebanon for Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel. Meanwhile, Hezbollah attacks from Gaza, rather than Lebanon.
Britain has established a political dialogue with Hezbollah.

PIJ has resumed rocket attacks in response to Israel’s assassination of its commander and a couple of others, its spokesman announced. There was no ceasefire to begin with, as PIJ has shelled Israel continuously.

The intensified confrontation in Gaza has shelved the 1,400:1 prisoner exchange for good, and offers Netanyahu a chance to make good on his election-time commitment to do away with Hamas. The problem is, Hamas has nothing to do with the PIJ attacks.

The Israeli Defense Ministry has many tasks: squandering American aid on super-expensive unnecessary weapons, limiting the war in Gaza to prove to Israelis that no alternative exists to a diplomatic solution with Palestinian terrorists, and pleasing the US Administration. Defense, per se, is lost among these objectives.

After Clinton’s visit, undoubtedly as a gesture to her, Ehud Barak proceeded to dismantle checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, which had proved irritatingly effective in intercepting Arab terrorists. A few dozen settlers currently demonstrate against his decisions near Tarkumia checkpoint, close to Hebron.

Still, the vast majority of Israelis want Barak to continue as defense minister.

Lieberman’s negotiator has announced that Friedman’s re-appointment is not critical to his party.

The leftist establishment and courts exert immense pressure on the coalition to remove Friedman because he tries to curtail extreme activism and judicial excesses, such as appointment of its own members.

Rabbis have again proved they are more ingenuous than politicians. While the coalition parties squabbled over civil marriages, the Israeli Rabbinical Court solved the problem by allowing rabbis to register non-Jewish marriages.

The rabbinical decision won’t make Lieberman happy. Civil marriages were never a problem in Israel: non-Jews could always marry, with the only restriction being that their marriage was called a “union.” The real issue with civil marriages is to deprive Israel of a major attribute of Jewishness, obligatory hupa marriage, and to provide a vehicle for intermarriage. Civil authorities, unlike rabbis, don’t verify the applicants’ Jewishness and would allow eight hundred thousand non-Jews to marry Jews without conversion.

In our political wilderness, even Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger suddenly looks sensible.

Rabbi Metzger and his entourage visited IDF yeshivas in the West Bank, where he remarked that “Settlers are the best answer to Amalek.” Religious students got the hint: since Palestinians are Amalek, they presumably must be swept away.

Mauritania was the only Arab state that maintained diplomatic relations with Israel despite the absence of a peace agreement. Technically, Israel needed no peace agreement with Mauritania because we were never at war.

After the Gaza war, Mauritania suspended relations with Israel and today expelled Israel’s ambassador.

The trouble is, how do we find Mauritania on the map?

As usual on Fridays, Arabs hurled stones at police and Jewish villagers near Modiin and Har Braha. The Israeli Supreme Court traditionally incites local Arabs with provocative orders to reroute the separation wall.

Modiin, the place where the Maccabean revolt started, is claimed by Arabs for a Palestinian state.

The Israeli media are furious over religious parties’ coalition demands. They ask—o, horror—for an $80 increase in monthly stipends to married Torah students.

One may criticize religious socialism on many grounds: Jews are obligated to take any job rather than charity, eminent Torah scholars work hard, and stipends are the rabbis’ stick to control their flock. But this fact is more important: haredim are Israel’s demographic backbone. They live in extreme poverty, but produce large numbers of Jewish children. At $270 per month, they are a bargain compared to wasteful aliyah programs and the Jewish Agency’s pork-barrel budget.

A single Arab security prisoner—and there are 11,000 of them—costs Israel per day about the same amount a haredi family’s head receives per month.