Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Netanyahu’s Accepting Lieberman

The “Israeli” internal arena has witnessed dramatic developments that have led to the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Avigdor Lieberman, being introduced into the government, tasking him with managing the military portfolio (Ministry of War).

Netanyahu’s Accepting Lieberman

Meanwhile the head of the Zionist camp and the Labour Party, Yitzhak Herzog, was kept out. These developments prompted the War Minister Moshe Ya’alon to resign from the government and the Knesset. During a press conference he [Ya’alon] expressed his hope of coming back later to compete for the leadership of the country.

Why did Netanyahu decide to expand the government at this stage?

Netanyahu’s determination to expand the government goes back to last year’s elections when the government was formed based on a fragile majority (61 MKs out of 120). This fact has caused many tremors in the government, making it susceptible to blackmail. In order to change this reality and fortify the government from collapsing, Netanyahu had no choice but to include Lieberman and his party, or Herzog and his party; preventing the rest of the Jewish parties from entering the Knesset.

How and why did Netanyahu change from including the “Zionist camp” to including “Yisrael Beiteinu”?

When Herzog’s inclusion in the government seemed imminent, the far right and Lieberman sensed the danger that would keep the latter in the opposition isolated and weak. Lieberman backed down from his unrealistic conditions, which were related to the participation of the Haredi parties and agreements with them. He demanded instead the defense portfolio along with other conditions. Thus, Netanyahu could no longer ignore the offer, because he was taking Lieberman’s unrealistic conditions as an excuse to justify his orientation towards the Zionist camp (center-left). But that was no longer the case. In addition, including Lieberman allowed Netanyahu to preside over a purely right-wing government, where he plays a moderate role and a brake for the extreme right.

However, Netanyahu’s interest in joining the Zionist camp is also to provide a broader base for the government, which allows him to balance between the extremists and the “moderates.”

In any case, it seems that Netanyahu’s goal behind his move is to ensure two additional years for his government. Given a normal course of developments in the “Israeli” internal political scene, it would appear that there would be no serious threat to his government before the year 2018. Netanyahu is aware that any competition for the presidency of the government is solely and only derived from within the right-wing camp, especially after the decline in the Labor Party in the face of a stronger Likud. In this case, Netanyahu is betting on the possibility of being able to tame Lieberman with the latter being less harmful in the government than outside it.

The Letter including Lieberman into the government

Although the steps have so far not been formally completed, it seems clear that Netanyahu wanted to send a series of messages in multiple directions: 

– To the right wing public: Netanyahu has once again stressed to this audience that his orientations are in line with theirs. In addition, for Netanyahu, this audience is the most realistic, especially in that it tops the political and security decision-making institution. Through this step, Netanyahu gains the right-wing arena, where the competition is based on who shows more extremism and radicalism.
– To the army command: Netanyahu deliberately took two steps at the same time, the first is positive and the second is negative. The first is that he removed Moshe Yaalon from the post of War Minister. The second is that he imposed a political figure that has no experience in military and security issues and is famous for ideological extremism and free from the restraints of the regional power equations to lead the army.

As for the negative dimension, Netanyahu achieved a milestone represented in breaking up the coalition that appeared to have been formed in recent times between Ya’alon and the Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and his deputy Yair Golan. This was reflected in Ya’alon’s covering up for any officer that declared opinions contrary to the orientations of the political leadership; an issue that exacerbated tensions between him and Netanyahu. This as Lieberman, who was keen on taking the right-wing audience into account, increased his criticism of the military leadership’s performance in recent weeks and months.

As for the settlement letters, Netanyahu delivered a blow to the Arab “moderates” (more correctly those who have surrendered) when he expressed his preference of Lieberman over Herzog. Herzog’s entry into the government under the pretext that this was the way to move the peace process with the Palestinian Authority forward, played into the demands of Arab regimes, which were looking for a political opportunity to justify their movement towards public closeness with “Israel”.

To sum up, Netanyahu once again confirms his attachment to his right-wing ideological choice, which is designed to essentially impose more [illegal] settlements on the West Bank and retain the current political statuesque preventing – at the very least – the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Ya’alon’s temporary resignation from political life came as a reaction to the humiliation he suffered when Netanyahu decided to replace him with Lieberman. Knowing that, the incident followed rising differences between him and Netanyahu. But Ya’alon declared his clear desire to return to political life as a contender to the post of prime minister, and he expressed his dissatisfaction with the political situation, saying that the state and the Likud Party had been taken over by extremist groups.
Source: al-Ahed News, Translated and edited by website team

24-05-2016 | 12:53
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