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Understanding politics in Israel: The limousine theory


Into the Fray: How is it that, time after time, the electorate ends up with a gov’t adopting precisely the policy it urged voters to reject?

Into the Fray: How is it that, time after time, the electorate ends up with a gov’t adopting precisely the policy it urged voters to reject?
Yuval Steinitz Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post On the one hand, the state invests billions of dollars in building a modern army; purchasing state-of-the-art warplanes and constructing modern airfields; equipping and training reserve battalions; and deploying Arrow missiles. All this is right and proper and necessary. But on the other hand, it has permitted a situation to develop in which these selfsame modern, expensive systems are liable to be rendered irrelevant. On the basis of such wishful thinking, battles, and wars, are lost

    – Yuval Steinitz, “When the Palestinian Army Invades the Heart of Israel,” Commentary, December 1, 1999.

To a dispassionate observer, unfamiliar with the mechanisms – and machinations – of Israeli politics, the events of the past two-and-a-half decades must seem to defy explanation, flying in the face of both logic and common sense, and a gross violation of the rationale of democratic principles.

To the vanquished the spoils?

Political realities in Israel since the early 1990s have shown that electoral victory has little bearing on the policies the resultant governments will pursue. Quite the reverse.

No matter how often the doctrine of political appeasement and territorial concession failed to win approval at the ballot box, it nevertheless continued to dominate the policy-making decisions of governments – even of those elected in express opposition to it.

Astonishingly, time and time again, the prescriptions of the vanquished became the policy of the victors.

Thus, Yitzhak Rabin, elected in 1992 on the basis of a series of hawkish “nays,” including rejection of negotiations with the PLO terrorist organization, radically switched his positions, transforming them all to dovish “yeas.”

The policy he adopted was indistinguishable from that promoted by the radical Left of the time – which failed to win voter support.

More dramatically, Ariel Sharon, elected in 2003 on a platform opposing any notion of unilateral withdrawal, adopted precisely this policy, advocated by his Labor Party rival, which was resoundingly defeated at the polls.

In 2009, shortly after his reelection as prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu’s regrettable volte face in the speech he delivered at Bar-Ilan University, accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea-Samaria, was a repudiation of the positions he presented to voters. Indeed, it was an endorsement of those of his opponents, who failed to win sufficient electoral support to form a government.

True, he did attempt to hedge his acquiescence with various unrealistic reservations and restrictions. However, this was of little avail. He had, for all practical purposes, capitulated intellectually and strategically, and in a stroke, fundamentally transformed the debate from one over whether there should, or should not, be a Palestinian state, to one over what the characteristics of …read more
Source: Israpundit

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Posted by on June 18, 2013. Filed under In This Week's Edition,Israeli News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.