Saturday, February 28

The Israeli Government Coalition and Peace Prospects

This illustrates an end to the dove of peace and continuation of the occupation while the political right entrenches itself.

As I mentioned in my last article, despite Kadima’s win over the Likud by one mandate, the next government will be formed by the Likud with Benjamin Netanyahu as the next prime minister. The Israeli electorate moved towards the right in their decision even though the split of the right wing vote went to many extremist right wing splinter parties who gave their support to Netanyahu. This was not surprising as the Likud is a right wing party. Kadima is a centre party that has many members embracing Likud ideology who left the Likud because of disagreement over the disengagement from Gaza in August 2005. The Ultra-Orthodox religious parties such as Shas and Torah Judaism are also in the right wing camp. Today religious Zionism is also well entrenched in the right wing camp in the name of Bayit Hayehudi and the National Union Parties which are basic reincarnations of the racist Kach Party of the late Rabbi Meir Kahana. Yisrael Beitenu will also be part of this horrific coalition.

It is a disgrace that the so-called centre to right of centre parties, under the respective leadership of Tzipi Livni of the Kadima Party and Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party, tried their best to woo Yisrael Beitenu Party of Avigdor Lieberman, whose ideology is racist and anti-Arab. Even the so-called left of centre Labour Party was lukewarm to sitting with Yisrael Beitenu in the same coalition. To date, Tzippi Livni and Ehud Barak have stated that they will join the opposition. It remains to be seen whether Labour and Kadima will remain in the opposition for long. The temptation of sitting in the cabinet is great and the attitude of Livni and Barak could change for a whim. According to newspaper reports, Netanyahu does not want to form an extreme right wing coalition as this would be disastrous for Israel and would result in a collision with the US Obama Administration. The right wing is very settler oriented in the occupied West Bank and would maintain the occupation as well as establish new settlements at the expense of the Palestinians. It would put an end to any negotiations towards a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There will be no compromises or return of territory for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

It is a sad day for Israel’s democracy, which is already under threat, when the racist Zionist party, Yisrael Beitenu, will be part of the government coalition. This is bad for Israel and it will further exacerbate the tensions between Israel and its Arab citizens as the threat of transfer and loyalty to the state of Israel is dangled in front of their eyes every time there is an anti-Israel government demonstration and words are said that are not to the liking of the ruling coalition with its strong Lieberman influence.

The defeat of the left wing Zionist camp in these elections is because this camp became soft on its ideology and was not clear in its attitude towards the Gaza war. The left wing camp, including Meretz, was hardly involved in any movement towards peace. They seem to be more involved in gay rights rather than in seeking solutions to serious socio-economic issues that affect the future of Israel’s underprivileged and relationships with its Palestinian neighbours.

Tzippi Livni has stated that she cannot be part of the Likud led coalition for two main reasons:

Netanyahu does not accept the two-state solution and the rotation of prime minister at mid term.

Livni, on the other hand, will be under increasing pressure from the more right wing members of her party such as Shaul Mofaz to join the coalition. This could result in a split in Kadima and its eventual demise. Ehud Barak faces a similar problem in the Labour Party. The idea of sitting in the same coalition with Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party playing a crucial role in policy formulation is less of a problem for both parties.

Avigdor Lieberman has the audacity to even demand that Prof. Daniel Friedman remain the Minister of Justice! What right does Lieberman have to make this demand? Something smells rotten here. Lieberman is under suspicion of money laundering and various corruption practices which are under police investigation. It is unacceptable that a person who is under investigation for criminal practices even though he has not been formally charged can even be considered for any cabinet post despite his electoral success. After all, Olmert was also not formally charged but his criminal investigations resulted in his resignation and brought on these elections. Where is the promise of clean government? Is this the direction of the new Zionism? Right wing, illegal settler oriented which means more land grabs from the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank? Has Zionism become a medium for ethnic cleansing of the Israeli Arab population of Israel? There is a hint of that in Liebermanism in the right wing Likud coalition.

Let Bibi Netanyahu form his right wing coalition bloc with the mix of religious bigots and Zionist racist, right wing extremists who are his natural allies. This is what the voters want – give it to them! Hopefully after a few months the Israeli electorate will come to their senses when the Obama Administration starts tightening the screws on the follies of the incoming right wing government. The Israeli electorate is responsible for creating a right wing political monster that will be detrimental to any movement towards compromises for peace. The electorate also seems to have forgotten what Netanyahu had done for the poorer classes when he was Minister of Finance in the Sharon Government. The increased tax burden and the raising of retirement age from 65 years to 67 years were steps that should never be forgiven. The new government will not be "peace" or "poor socio-economic" friendly.

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