by Roy Tov
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Predicting future news is a risky business; yet, this time I am walking on thick ice: Israel will announce in the next weeks early elections to the Knesset. Israel being a parliamentary regime, means that a new government will probably run the country by the end of this year. The announcement is not official yet, but Reuven Rivlin (the Knesset Speaker, see Rivlin: On a Good Pope, a Bad Politician and an Evil General) said yesterday during the inauguration of the Knesset’s summer 2012 sitting: “It seems this is the Knesset’s last session, since the entire country—coalition and opposition—agree that early elections are good, so that the next Knesset will be able to take harsh decisions for the life of our people,” he said. Almost formalizing this informal statement, Netanyahu added that the issue of early elections “would be clarified soon.”
The regular elections process was scheduled to take place in late 2013, but that timing was not good for Netanyahu’s government. The time slot being considered for the early elections runs from the end of August to the beginning of November, which is when the United States will be holding presidential elections. In the Israeli reality, the best timing would be before the three-week fall holidays, which begins with Rosh Hashanah on September 17, and ends with Simhat Torah on October 8. The holidays will allow extra-time in the coalitional talks that would precede the establishment of the next government. If everything goes as apparently planned, the day of the presidential elections in the USA will be witnessed by a newly installed government in Israel. The correlation with the American presidential elections is not a coincidence; Israel will be in a tough situation after them—no matter who the winner is—and Netanyahu prefers to reach that point with a stable government which is not shadowed by coming elections.
Obama is not popular in Israel. Two main issues contribute to that. One is the controversial American attitude towards the Israeli nuclear program in recent years. Beyond limitations on workers of Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona and the center itself, President Obama has postponed a Middle East conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, while Israel was expecting its complete cancellation (see Hiroshima, Tel Aviv: The December 2012 NPT Conference for a review of the issue). Moreover, President Obama thwarted Israel’s war on Iran, at least until the November 2012 presidential elections. Israel got in exchange generous funding for its Iron Dome offensive anti-missiles system, but that is not good enough. For the Zionists, “no war” means “no money.” Ehud Barak is unlikely to forgive Obama this brutish intervention on his personal profits (see USA Thwarts Israeli Attack on Iran).
This attitude is clear; Obama was never portrayed favorably in the state-backed Hebrew media. The Israeli administration wants the USA to change its position on at least two key issues regarding Israel’s nuclear program. On the other hand, Romney is a personal friend of Israel’s Prime Minister, and has already promised “he would not make any significant policy decisions about Israel without consulting Mr. Netanyahu.” Game is over. Israel supports Romney (see Obama’s End? Israel Supports Romney). Yet, no matter who wins in America, after the elections Israel will be forced to take decisions regarding Iran.
When the main talk in Israel’s media is an imminent aggressive attack on Iran, the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit of December is not a comfortable option for the Zionist regime, especially since its main topic will be Israel’s aggressive nuclear program. The Israeli efforts to defer the conference were opened in the talks with the representative of the Finnish government, and are likely to intensify in the coming months. Israel claims that the conference should not be held until regimes in the region, particularly in Egypt and Syria, stabilize. This is highly ironic, considering Israel had a key role in destabilizing Syria (see Slicing Syria). Israel’s chances to cancel the summit are slim. The decision to proceed with the conference was incorporated in an agreement document issued by the 2010 conference. The U.S. State Department expressed “deep regret” about it, and Israel protested its inclusion; but the document was not repealed. Israel is still repeating its mantra, claiming that it would not sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons until a comprehensive Arab-Israel peace deal is in place.
If an agreement between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain—plus Germany) and Iran is achieved in their Baghdad meeting of May 2012, Israel will be in a tough position with all its policies plummeting into the deepest oceans. All its rhetoric would have been rendered as motivated by its will to begin a war no matter what. Losing legitimacy in the eyes of most of its electorate—as well as the entire world—is the worst thing that can happen to a regime. The Zionists are about to reach such a point, unless something dramatic happens (see West and Iran Step Closer to Agreement; Israel Worried. In this situation, the Knesset’s early elections are a reorganizational step attempting to assure better capabilities to answer what would probably be a harsh period.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu | Peace as an Hoax
A few readers approached me with a similar complaint. According to them, several of my analyses on Israel emphasize inner Jewish Wars, while barely mentioning international players. “What is David Cameron’s position on this,” they would ask, eager to know what the UK is about to do about Israel’s eternal transgressions. Henry Kissinger probably is not among my readers; but if he were, he would agree with me. Many years ago he said that Israeli politics are almost exclusively internal. Everything must be analyzed through the magnifying lenses of the Jewish Wars, other issues are secondary. One of the most dramatic instances of this principle was the Altalena Affair. In the 1940s, Ben Gurion and Begin fought over arms and ammunition smuggled by the Irgun aboard the Altalena. Ben Gurion feared the creation of a Fifth Column within the IDF, loyal to Begin rather than to the chain of command leading to Ben Gurion. Thus, he issued an ultimatum to the ship. The taunt was refused, and the subsequent armed conflict between the two forces led to the Altalena’s sinking and the death of sixteen Irgun and three IDF men. Nothing else mattered to all involved; neither the ongoing war with Arab countries nor the shaky international position of Ben Gurion’s fiefdom. The only thing that counted was the Ben Gurion-Begin war. Even now, mentioning the event in Israeli circles is considered bad taste.
Kissinger was right. Regardless of the international political situation faced by Netanyahu’s government, his concern is mainly internal. After all, he has a government capable of making decisions, especially if he declares an emergency situation and calls for a “unity government” encompassing all Zionist parties. This has been done in the past. Benjamin Netanyahu is a political predator and he smells blood in the air. There is a real opportunity for him to destroy two political enemies and to almost double his party’s strength at once. For the first time since Ariel Sharon founded Kadima—the Knesset’s largest party—the Knesset may feature after the upcoming elections a main party which is large enough to run a stable government.
In Upheaval in Ariel Sharon’s Party I reported on the recent change in the leadership of Kadima. Tzipi Livni’s defeat was so great that today, May 1, she quit the Knesset. Shaul Mofaz—who leads the party—already announced that his party is not ready for the elections. Kadima may lose not only its position as the largest party. Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman—leader of Yisrael Beiteinu—already announced his party will be the second largest after the Likud following the next elections.
Despite the fact that being Minister of Defense transforms him into the second most important politician in Israel, Ehud Barak is fighting for his political life. And he is losing. After winning back the leadership of the Labor party, Barak was sworn in as Minister of Defense in June 2007, as part of Prime Minister Olmert’s cabinet reshuffle. During December 2008 through January 2009, Barak led (as defense minister) Operation Cast Lead, which led to Israel being defined as a terror state. In the 2009 elections, the Labor Party he led won just 13 out of the 120 Knesset seats, making it the fourth largest party. Barak reached an agreement with Netanyahu under which Labor joined the governing coalition. Barak retained his position as Defense Minister. In January 2011, Labor Party leader Barak formed a breakaway party, Atzmaut (Independence), which enabled him to maintain his loyal Labor’s MK faction within Netanyahu’s government after Labor threatened to force Barak to leave the government. After Barak’s move, Netanyahu was able to maintain a majority government.
Barak’s preemptive move against the Labor party was successful on a tactical scale. He stayed in the government and in the same position. However, it was a strategic disaster. As of now, both parties—Labor and Atzmaut—face tragedy. The Labor admitted yesterday not having funds even for conducting polls. The main party of the Zionist movement for many years may become one of the smallish parties in the next Knesset. Ehud Barak’s party is in an ever worsening situation, it may not pass the votes’ threshold needed to enter the Knesset.
Not only the Likud is expected to come out as a winner of the next elections. Avigdor Lieberman may get stronger. So is Shas, a Mizrahi-Haredi party that became a pillar of the Zionist-Haredi alliance enabling the State of Israel (see Netanyahu’s Mule: On an Unholy Alliance). Every time they managed to create controversy, they augmented their strength; these days the return of Aryeh Deri—a former leader of the party—is succeeding to stir the party’s voters. Traditionally, Shas supports right wing extremists, as long as it gets control of the state’s religious institutions; the Likud will gladly pay this price as it has always done. Then, Yair Lapid—a former Chanel 2 anchor—is running as head of a new party and may win enough votes to become a member of the next coalition to govern Israel (see Torch Sets Israel Afire). Israel is turning so strongly rightwards, that—beyond all logic—its right hand may soon be at its left side.
In one sleek move, Netanyahu is about to get rid of his main political opponents. After the elections in Israel and America, he would be able to fulfill his dream of an attack on Iran with no significant opposition at home and with no political rival capable of stealing the show. The winds of war are about to become a tornado.