Dalia Itzik, who has served as Israel’s environmental minister for nearly one year, is also a member of the Knesset who has served as deputy mayor of Jerusalem and a member of the Labor Party’s central committee. She was first elected to the Knesset in 1992, where she has served on the Committees for Finance, Education and Culture, as well as the Status of Women. Itzik was interviewed during a recent visit to New York.
Jewish Week: I understand you want to hire special environmental police to enforce environmental laws in Israel.
A still-stunned Sharbel Barakat, former deputy commander of the South Lebanon Army, admitted here last week that he felt “betrayed” by the sudden withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon a month ago.
“We’re confused [about the retreat],” he said softly. “For 23 years we had an alliance with Israel. We had more families in Israel than in Lebanon.”
With Secretary of State Madeleine Albright slated to arrive next week in a bid to arrange a crucial retreat-style summit meeting involving Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s attention was focused instead on the Shas party and its threat to bring down his broad-based coalition government.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s hope of placating rebellious coalition partners who last week voted for early elections was dealt a blow Tuesday when the spiritual leaders of Shas ordered the party to leave the government.
As the last of the Israeli troops in southern Lebanon hurriedly completed their withdrawal Tuesday night — just 48 hours after they began — Baruch Peretz and his four young daughters slept in their bomb shelter in Kiryat Shemona while their mother in Manhattan worried whether they were right to move to the northern Israeli town four months ago.
“I have horrible thoughts,” said Tami Peretz. “Is it correct to raise kids there? Just 10 minutes away from Kiryat Shemona kids are not suffering.”
As Ehud Barak flies to the U.S. this weekend for meetings with President Clinton and American Jewish leaders, the Israeli prime minister leaves behind a tumultuous series of events that underscore the surreal quality of the peace process.
As Israelis honored their war dead Tuesday and celebrated their independence the next day, the bitter divisions that have pitted Israelis against Arabs, and Israelis against each other, continued to surface.
As preparations were made for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks beginning Sunday in the Israeli southern port city of Eilat, upbeat statements from both sides did little to mask an undertone of pessimism.
“There is absolutely no delay in the deadlines,” Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat said Sunday, referring to the May deadline to hammer out a framework of a permanent peace treaty in September.
Northern Israel came under attack Wednesday from Hezbollah terrorists who fired several Katyusha rockets over the border from positions in southern Lebanon. It was an apparent attempt to avenge the deaths of a Lebanese soldier and civilian killed in three days of massive Israeli air attacks against Hezbollah positions and suspected armed Palestinian camps close to the Syrian border.
In another surprise that has come to symbolize Middle East peace talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat met at midweek and announced another “breakthrough” — the restarting of talks that have been stalled for weeks. The move came after both Barak and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy had expressed doubts about achieving peace with the Palestinians and Syrians this year.