Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bush: No US Aid for Hamas led PA

"I weep for the Palestinians' suffering," Bush said in a speech. "They've been ruled for years by a disappointing government, but we can't fund a nation that seeks to destroy its neighbor."
Bush apparently isn't the only one.
Earlier Wednesday, Soon after Hamas formally took power, Canada announced it was suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement that Canada had no choice but to suspend assistance to the PA and decline contact with the new Hamas cabinet.
Good thing that Stephen Harper got elected, because I imagine it would have been business as usual with Paul Martin.

____________

In other news, here's the opening gambit in negotiations for the Finance Ministry Portfolio within Israel. Looks like a showy negotiating position:
[Olmert's associates] said the Treasury was off limits in coalition talks, especially with regard to Labor chairman Amir Peretz.

"There is a limit to what the economy can tolerate," an Olmert associate said. "Peretz has a history of paralyzing the economy with strikes, so if he were appointed, the stock market would collapse. He can't be finance minister for the same reason that [Israel Beiteinu head] Avigdor Lieberman cannot be defense minister."

Such insults to Peretz offended Labor Party leaders who insisted they would have to be paid a reasonable price to join the coalition, unlike the national-unity government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, where Labor's top portfolio was the Interior Ministry.

"A party that has run on a socioeconomic platform could not possibly accept anything less than the Finance Ministry," a senior Labor official close to Peretz said. "The basis of any talks would be Peretz heading the Finance Ministry."
Though I shudder to think what could be worse. Finance or Defense. Foreign Affairs is more like the State Department, and that's where Peres always went. So it is at least traditional to give that to a dove.

Ilya Somin, guest blogging at Volokh Conspiracy, agrees that this position looks to be merely a "tough," initial negotiating stance.
At the same time, Olmert says he's leaving open the possibility of allying with the right-wing parties instead. I suspect that he's bluffing. As I noted in my earlier post, these parties categorically oppose Kadima's main policy objective: unilateral Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank.


For more on the negative repercussions of surrendering the Finance Portfolio to Labor:
The election results indicate that the next government will focus on a social agenda, and we hope that the government will be able to maintain a budgetary balance and keep the economic principles of the Sharon government, which the world welcomed and attracted foreign investment. If the government keeps its predecessor's targets, i.e. a budget deficit of 3% of GDP, and 1% growth in spending in real terms, then, so long as there are no distortions in budget allocations, any specific change won’t be perceived as problematic.

"Kadima will inherit the Likud's economic approach of the free market. Therefore, the choice of the next finance minister is critical. It's no secret that foreign investors support a free market, so if Kadima surrenders the finance portfolio, this will have negative repercussions on the market. That said, the Labor Party has been sending more responsible signals recently, and it seems that it will also try to preserve the budget framework. We therefore do not expect foreign investors to make their exit from Israel, even if Labor gets the finance portfolio, and the media will play its role in allaying apprehension over this."
[Hat Tip: Am Echad]

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