Friday, May 20

Whither the Zionist Camp Party and in with Yisrael Beitenu

After the Israeli General Elections of 15th March 2015, Yitzhak Herzog - the Leader of the Zionist Camp and the Opposition, stated unequivocally that he has no intention of joining the Netanyahu Coalition Government. Many people voted for the Zionist Camp because they wanted change. Yitzchak Herzog lacks the charisma to be very convincing as a Leader of the Opposition. His popularity is slipping in the polls as he began crawling with a squeak or two into the arms of the most right wing coalition government in Israel’s history. He has gone back on his word and is on a path of self-destruction politically.

It is amazing that the Labor Party has always managed to survive, despite all its failures and
Yitzhak "Buji" Herzog Leader of Zionist Camp Party
sell outs to previous Likud-led coalitions in the past. The left of center opposition to the right wing government is on a downhill course and the stalwarts of the Labor movement were kicked in the butt, as in the past by groveling into a right wing coalition. This time there was a twist, after the wily Netanyahu had twisted Yitzchak Herzog round his little finger, offering him nothing - in comes Avigdor Lieberman, Leader of Yisrael Beitenu, and he gets offered the Defense Ministry on a plate, leaving Herzog out in the cold, spitting and screaming, blaming the “ultra-left “in his party, citing Zionist Camp MK, Shelli Yacimovich, as an example. Herzog justifies his failure by attacking his fellow members as attack is the best form of defense.

Avigdor Lieberman - incoming Defense Minister
Yitzchak Herzog has proved to be a weak opposition leader. He is now out in the cold, with egg yolk all over his face. Netanyahu has turned him into a laughing stock. Even members of the Zionist Camp are turning against him. Herzog has proved once again that he is no match for Netanyahu and he has no chance of gaining popularity to replace him as prime minister in the next elections. He should make the correct decision and resign. Instead of admitting his own folly he blamed everybody else and is trying to wipe the egg off his face threatening to lead a fighting opposition which he never did over the past 14 months. He was never consistent and did his best to move to the right by stating that his party is not an Arab-lover’s party.

Netanyahu has become paranoid with power. He has fired Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon

Moshe Ya'alon - outgoing Defense Minister
, who has knowledge of the IDF having been Chief-of-Staff and a career officer. Avigdor Lieberman is a right wing, racist - demagogue with no military experience or understanding even according to Netanyahu’s own description of him as “the man who isn’t qualified to be a military analyst,” as he put it a few weeks ago. Why has Netanyahu made such a bizarre choice? Lieberman is a super-hawk who will lead Israel to disaster and will do much damage to the IDF that will take years to repair. Lieberman has made irresponsible statements in the past such as his desire to blow up the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

This disastrous appointment could not come at a worse time, when General Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, President of Egypt, was making overtures towards Israel about peace and becoming more involved in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Now this stands to be scuttled because of the Lieberman appointment. Windows of opportunity for improving Israel’s relationships with its Arab neighbours do not often occur, but when it does, Netanyahu must share the blame of closing the doors by making disastrous cabinet appointments. Even veteran Likud Member of the Knesset, Benny Begin, stated that Netanyahu’s choice of Lieberman as Defense Minister is a bad alternative to Moshe Ya’alon as well as being bizarre. Moshe Ya’alon also encouraged senior officers to speak their minds over moral issues and educate their soldiers to act in a moral and ethical way even if it goes against the grain of accepted discourse. Ya’alon did not venture into politics in his statements as Netanyahu claimed. However had Ya’alon and the Deputy Chief-of-Staff spoken positively about the morality of the settlements in the West Bank this would have been viewed favorably by Netanyahu and Ya’alon would not have been axed. Democracy in Israel is on the road to being compromised by the self-righteous Netanyahu-Bennett-Shaked, and the latest addition, Lieberman Axis

Netanyahu was angry with his Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon because he supported the deputy Chief-of Staff, Yair Golan, who made a speech comparing developments in Israel with pre-Nazi Germany. Ya’alon also condemned the shooting of a dying Palestinian terrorist by the soldier, Elor Azaria, who had gone against IDF protocol in his actions and committed a crime of murder that had been softened to an indictment of culpable homicide. Most of the right wing, including Avigdor Liberman, the incoming Defense Minister, believed that the soldier should be freed. This was the sounding bell for the axing of Ya’alon from the Defense Portfolio. Netanyahu viewed the IDF leadership as a potential threat to his power. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are no grounds for Netanyahu’s assumption, apart from a hidden paranoia, and fear of losing his grip. The senior officers in the IDF just wished to maintain the reputation of the IDF as being clean and fair. If this is a threat to Netanyahu’s hold on power resulting in the appointment of Liberman as Defense Minister, despite the bad blood between the two of them, then there is a severe problem. This appointment of Avigdor Liberman was the rabbit out of the hat, well concealed from Herzog during the antics of negotiations to bring the Zionist Camp into the Netanyahu Coalition.

Moshe Ya’alon is an honest man; he is in the same league as MK Benny Begin and President Reuven Rivlin, who believe in the importance of ethics and fairness as well as making responsible decisions for the benefit of the country. PM Netanyahu is NOT in that league and the dismissal of Moshe Ya’alon from the defense portfolio is proof of Netanyahu’s political whims and fancies that is negative for Israel. Netanyahu is a scheming politician, who will do anything to placate his extremist right wing flank in power.  He stuck a knife in Moshe Ya’alon’s back and Ya’alon paid the price for his ethical stand and judgment. Talk about the Palestinians not being a partner for peace negotiations - is Netanyahu any different? Is he a potential partner for peace talks? If Netanyahu pulls out dirty tricks from the cupboard against his own cabinet ministers, can he be viewed as being trustworthy and honest?

Moshe Ya’alon has resigned his seat in the Knesset and has decided to leave politics to the wolves for the time being. Israel has lost an excellent Defense Minister and time will expose the folly of Netanyahu’s bad decision. His place in the Knesset will be replaced by Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a strong rabble rouser for the right to pray on the Temple Mount. Glick has had a number of confrontations with the law enforcement authorities on this issue as well as being a victim of an assassination attempt.

Where do all these developments leave the Zionist Camp? Nowhere! As mentioned earlier in this article, the Zionist Camp has taken a bashing as it usually does. Israel needs a strong opposition that can offer a realistic alternative to the present Netanyahu Government. A realignment of the left is essential for this to occur. Many Zionist Camp members feel a sense of betrayal by their leader, Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog. The opposition should be all encompassing of left wing political parties wishing to bring an end to the Netanyahu Coalition rule and sharing a common platform in this effort. No party should be ruled out in this effort, including the Joint List. In fact, Ayman Odeh, is the leader of the largest opposition party in the Knesset. He should be the future opposition leader replacing Herzog, whose Zionist Camp is losing support as a result of Herzog’s attempt to enter the right wing government with the lame excuse that Netanyahu will change direction. Netanyahu, during his eight years of being prime minister, has not changed and will not change in the future. He pays lip service to a two-state solution but he does not support it under any circumstances in reality.

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