Meet The New Boss Same As The Old Boss
Vol: 89 Issue: 21 Saturday, February 21, 2009
It was Netanyahu that Israeli President Shimon eres tapped to form the next Israeli government, not Tzipi Livni, despite the fact Livni’s Kadima Party did slightly better than Netanyahu’s Labor Party did in the polls.
Israeli politics can be confusing. Bear with me while I try and sort some of it out before proceeding with the topic at hand.
Israel’s government is a parliamentary system; whichever party holds the most seats under the parliamentary system is the prime minister. If one party can’t claim a clear majority, then it can join with smaller, but like-minded parties within the parliament to form a coalition government.
Israel divides politically along the lines of the French model of “Left” and “Right”. The 1789 French National Assembly situated themselves by position within the Assembly chamber. Members of the “Third Estate” were the liberal revolutionaries. Members of the First Estate were the nobles.
The Third Estate sat to the left of the center of the chamber. The First Estate was seated to the right. From this single meeting of the French Assembly in 1789, confirms Maven’s “Word of the Day”, do we get our modern understanding of Left vs Right.
In Israel, Kadima represents the center-Left. Likud is Far Right. Since there are at least 18 different political parties holding seats in the Knesset, neither party has anything close to a clear majority. However, there are slightly more Knesset members that lean right than there are that lean left.
And on that basis, President Peres had no choice but to tap Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party to form a new government.
To understand Far Left and Far Right in terms of Israeli politics is nigh unto impossible outside of Israel.
In terms of the peace process, the Left is committed to a two-state solution based on the principles of land for peace. Israeli President Shimon Peres was one of the architects of Oslo.
On the Right, Benjamin Netanyahu opposed Oslo, saying it was a smokescreen to cover Yasser Arafat’s ‘Phased Plan for the Destruction of Israel’ — which, as it happens, what precisely what it turned out to be.
Netanyahu governed Israel as Prime Minister during the second Clinton term. By all accounts he remains wedded to the ‘Four Nos’ that resulted in his narrow defeat to Ehud Barak in 1999’s forced elections.
No Palestinian state. No division of Jerusalem. No return of the Golan Heights. No right of return for Palestinian ‘refugees’.
Benjamin Netanyahu is a native-born Israeli, or sabra, born one year after Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence. He served as an Israeli commando and fought in both the 1967 and 1973 Arab Wars.
(His brother, Yonathan, was the only Israeli soldier killed during the 1976 raid on Entebbe, the IDF’s lightning rescue of eighty-three Jewish hostages held at the Entebbe airport in Uganda.)
Bibi’s term ended in early elections in 1999 when Israeli voters decided to return to the land for peace model under Labor PM Ehud Barak for Clinton’s disastrous Wye Plantation Agreement.
Ten years later, Bibi is back.
It is said that a man is defined more by his enemies than he is by his friends. Netanyahu’s elevation to Prime Minister has infuriated the majority of the Arab world.
Hamas announced Israel had picked ‘its most dangerous politician’ to lead it. Egypt’s government reacted with ‘sadness’. Canada’s National Post called him “The Islamic World’s Malevolent Zeitgeist”.
Across the Middle East, the cry went up, “the peace process is dead” — as if there had been a living peace process over which to mourn.
Mahmoud Abbas threatened a complete freeze in relations if Netanyahu abandons the so-called two-state solution.
“We will not deal with the Israeli government unless it accepts a two-state solution and accepts to halt settlements and to respect past accords,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, President Abbas’s spokesman, said, guaranteeing an immediate impasse with the now-center right Israeli majority.
Netanyahu gave an acceptance speech outside the official resident of President Peres during which time he mentioned Iran by name several times but did not once mention the two-state solution or the failed peace talks.
Netanyahu reminded the world that “Iran is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon and constitutes the gravest threat to our existence since the war of independence” while Hezebollah, the “terrorist forces of Iran threaten us from the north. For decades, Israel has not faced such formidable challenges,” he said.
Netanyahu’s comments came the day after the IAEA announced Iran had sufficient nuclear material to assemble a bomb — about a third more nuclear material than the UN had previously believed.
So, let’s take a step back and look at the Big Picture as it is taking shape for 2009.
Iran will in all probability soon declare itself, as did North Korea, the newest member of the nuclear club. And the leader of Iran remains a dedicated Twelver who believes it is his religious duty to start the Islamic global war that will force the Mahdi out into the open to take his place at the head of a marauding Islamic hordes battling to usher in a world-wide period of Islamic peace and prosperity.
The United States has just elected a far left liberal of Islamic-Arabic background who centered his foreign policy around improving ties with the Arab world to the White House for the next four years with a solid far left majority in Congress.
Hamas and Hezbollah have both fought recent wars with Israel — and survived — meaning that both now had reason to believe that victory over the Jewish state is at least possible.
Israel’s new center-right majority Prime Minister campaigned on a promise to destroy both Hamas and Hezbollah as threats to Israeli security. He was elected on a platform promise to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat by whatever means necessary.
“And He spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. ” (Luke 21:29-32)
Tick. . . tick . . . . tick