Just as we managed to adjust to the damages and hardships brought to bear by Hurricane Sandy, so are we adjusting as well to the re-election of Barrack Obama and another four years of his liberal, progressive left wing world view with which he will attempt an American makeover.
But no sooner has one election campaign and process faded into the past; there is another one—this one taking place in Israel on January 22—beating a path in our direction. Conventional wisdom up until very recently said that Prime Minister Netanyahu was a shoe-in to garner a significant and dramatic majority in the Knesset going forward thereby continuing the agenda and promoting policies that have the hallmark of his government over these last few years.
But wait a minute. You may be jumping ahead of yourselves as the mood and direction of the Israel electorate is even more unpredictable and difficult to calculate than the political and electoral system here in the US. As Israel’s Election Day nears in less than two weeks nothing seems assured or definite. In fact the possibilities and combinations of parties to form a ruling coalition in Israel’s parliamentary system seem as endless as the possible arrangements on an old Rubrics cube.
Most likely the new party partners of Netanayhu’s Likud and Yisrael Beytanu’s Avigdor Leiberman will combine for about 38 seats in the new Knesset. They have to therefore attract or draw another 23 seats in order to be able to form a working and successful coalition with the flimsiest one seat majority of 61 in the 120 member Knesset.
The natural allies of Likud-Beytanu to form such a coalition would be Naftali Bennett’s Habayit HaYehudi who is expected to garner somewhere between 11 and 16 Knesset seats and Shass under the co-leadership of Eli Yishai and Aryeh Deri who are anticipated to score between 9 and 11 seats in the new Knesset.
There is, however, a movement afoot from both within and without the Netanyahu-Lieberman camp to position the government more to the political center so that at least from the all-important American purview, the new Israeli government does not generate an image of anti-two state, pro settlement building always at odds with President Obama government for the next four years.
The storyline has Livni (projected at 9 seats) joining with Labors Shelley Yacomovich (projected to win 18) and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid (with 9 seats) for a total of 36. The hope is to those three parties to somehow entice both Shas, UTJ and Habait HaYehudi—with a projected combined 27 seats for a total of 63 seats in this imaginary and seemingly impossible coalition. While hatching this scenario is a formula that can lead to unsettling Benjamin Netanyahu this is a grouping that could not sit together or agree on how to govern the state of Israel for more than a few days.
So what are some of the other possibilities? The most likely scenario is a significantly right leaning government with Netanyahu at the helm along with Leiberman as Deputy Prime Minister once he is able to extricate himself from his current legal difficulties. A strong rightist coalition would consist of Likud-Beytanu (35 seats), Habayit HaYehudi (13 seats), Shas (10), Yesh Atid (9). There is the additional possibility that some of the smaller parties that may achieve some success in the elections like Aryeh Eldad and Michel Ben Ari’s Otsama party (3 seats) and possible Chaim Amsalem’s AmShalem Party (2) seats) could make it an even stronger 72 person governing coalition.
An additional possibility is that United Torah Judaism joins this same coalition with their six Knesset mandates giving Netanyahu a 77 seat mandate. One of the more open and even glaring questions is how the inherent conflicts that exist in the philosophies of Yesh Atid and Shas or UTJ—particularly on the matter of national service for Chareidim— on a variety of issues can be reconciled so they can sit together in one government.
For now Lapid of Yesh Atid or “There Is A Future” says that he will not join a Netanyahu led coalition so long as Livni makes the same commitment thereby conceivably strengthening the opposition if nothing else. Livni so far has not made such a commitment and reports are that she has been conducting talks with Likud representative about her Hatenuah Party joining the ruling coalition.
Tzipi Livini, many political pundits have stated unabashedly is first and foremost for Tzipi Livni. Bear in mind that she was a stalwart rightist member of Likud until former PM Ariel Sharon broke away and formed the once fledgling and now almost non-existent Kadima Party. Pollsters believe the Kadima will not attract enough votes in the election to qualify for any representation in the Knesset.
Livni then became Foreign Minister in the Kadima government led by Ehud Olmert after Sharon took ill. As Foreign Minister she reshaped herself as a pro-peace quasi leftist in order to curry favor with the US and Europe deceiving most into believing that as opposed to Netanyahu she was in favor of or capable of delivering a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Her designs were to position herself as Prime Minister someday.
This delusional approach continues to be offered by both Livni and Labor’s Yachimovich. To take a step back and support a coalition with either Livni or Yachimovich serving as Prime Minister is tempting if for no other reason than to illustrate how their peace rhetoric is really a way to disguise their political deception. Neither one of these personalities is capable of delivering or willing to deliver the type of agreement that the Arab side of the equation believes that Israel can be forced into by international pressure.
Yes, it is true that despite a commitment to the contrary Livni held extensive talks with her Palestinian counterparts about dividing Jerusalem during the damaging an sorrowful Olmert years. But to her credit and while the avowed commitment from Olmert was that Jerusalem was not up for discussion, the then Prime Minister was not exactly known or famous for either telling the truth and being true to a commitment of any sort so long as it did not benefit him personally.
But to her credit in a diplomatic twisted way, Livni entered into those discussions on Jerusalem in order to demonstrate the lack of realism and the intractable position of the Arab side on this very sensitive matter.
Here is the thing about the left in Israel today—they are not really as left as Barrack Obama would like to think. No one is willing or capable of dividing the city of Jerusalem after 45 years of successful and fair Israeli rule. None of these would be leaders is either capable of moving 250,000 Israeli’s out of their homes in the settlement communities so as to hand over additional territory to enemies like Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qada and Iran.
This idea as proclaimed last week by President Shimon Peres that PA President Mohammad Abbas is the only man that Israel can sign a peace deal with stretches the limits of absurd thinking. Since when is peace that is supposed to last years is or generations something that only one unpopular elderly man can agree to while the overwhelming population he purports to represent rejects such a notion? What this amounts to is election year bluster that has no basis or foundation.
What Israel needs following the coming election and on the heels of the Obama victory in the US combined with the administration’s new foreign policy team is something both novel and unique in the Israel-Palestinian process. And that is truth.
If Israeli leaders would stick to reality and honesty about Israel’s place in the world and about the near dead peace process, the international community would not know how to respond. First and foremost Netanyahu has to backtrack on his commitment to two states. It will be a difficult thing to do and he will be subjected to blistering criticism from the left at home as well as from the US and Europe.
But it is true and will be both eye opening and liberating for Israel. Two states is not workable and impossible. Habayot HaYehudi leader Naftali Bennett has clearly said so and his popularity continues to increase. Additionally it has to be stated that Jews are like people anywhere else in the world (its tragic that this is still news, but it is) and that Jews have a right to live anywhere—and this is especially so in the land of Israel.
Netanyahu will be surrounded by the right people in order to make these important and courageous pronouncements going forward. In his own Likud he has Avigdor Lieberman, Uzi Landau (of Yisrael Beytanu) Zev Elkin, Gilad Erdan, Yuli Edelshtein, Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovely and Moshe Feiglin—all right thinking Jews committed to truth and reality.
If Bibi wants to move Israel forward he has to stop flirting with the political deceivers and double talkers who continually set Israel back with their dishonesty. Yes, the Arabs and the Israeli’s have to learn to live together and there are many ways to accomplish these goals. Political deception as an electoral platform is not one of them.