Obama Displays a Poor Understanding of Israeli Politics
One loudly touted possible result of the Obama administration’s endless assaults on Israel and the Netanyahu government was the possible collapse of said government. The badly kept secret around Washington being that neither Obama, Rahm Emmanuel, nor Mrs. Clinton have much love for Benjamin Netanyahu. For Obama himself things break down succinctly, there is us (Progressives) and there is them, the Likud.
Biden made familiar noises along these lines during the campaign, stating that his Israel support took a backseat to no one, including AIPAC & the Likud (whatever that means in Biden’s signature foreign language of incomprehensibility). They all love Israel, just not the democratically elected Likud one. Instead they love the Jstreet, Meretz, Peace Now incarnation of Israel.. The one in their dreams that acquiesces to every demand. It’s an Israel composed mainly of fantasy and dreams gone by, with names like Rabin tossed around for good measure.
Obama and his crew hold deep illusions
- Firstly that this fantasy Israel they cherish, held differing positions on Jerusalem or security than the prevailing wind these days.
- Secondly, that Kadima or Livni could any more sign-up for the Obama fantasy than Netanyahu himself could.
Even Obama’s friendliest media is doubtful of any regime change strategy having much success these days. The initial plan would have been to pressure Netanyahu’s coalition to such an extent that it would topple, leaving Livni and her Kadima party poised to build a new parliament centered around her, a more pliable Obama target.
Sadly for the Obami, Livni could not build coalitions twice previously nor can she do so now. Her leadership is under serious question within Kadima itself, half the party wants into the Netanyahu government. So clearly, that plan is going nowhere. The fallback may have been squeezing the coalition to such an extend that it buckles forcing Netanyahu to lean toward Livni, thus bringing Kadima into the coalition under some form of power sharing tilting it leftward. But that plan also, would have been a mis-read of Israeli politics.
A well-known dictum talks about a person’s “finest hour”; yet Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni can have her moment of glory in just one minute – all she needs to do is say “yes.” This is what Israel’s political establishment expects her to do these days.
The situation is clear at this time: Israel’s global standing is gradually eroding, and we can already see the de-legitimization of our suffering state within broad camps across the world. In many aspects, this is a dangerous situation. Many things – and in fact, everything – can be done to a de-legitimized state.
Under these circumstances, Kadima Chairwoman Livni is being called to the colors. Examining the situation from a diplomatic point of view, Livni and her fellow Kadima members belong at the government table at this time. [...]
However, examining the issue from every personal, political, and partisan point of view, such move on her part would constitute an almost certain recipe for political suicide. So these days, Tzipi Livni is being torn between two possibilities that are completely the opposite of each other. What will she decide to do?
Jerusalem is the consensus issue.
If Kadima were to enter the coalition it would not be under terms of strength, ie to be more acquiescing to intense pressure from Obama. In fact the opposite, Kadima would have to enter to bolster Israel nationally at a time of national discourse in terms of threats & security. She would be joining to satisfy public hunger to strengthen Israel from the pressure itself. In effect shielding Netanyahu in order to face the common cause;
- America’s apparent embrace of containment for a nuclear Iran.
- The fallout of a hostile world coming to the realization that Israel has a fairweather friend in the Obama White House.
Haber quoted above calls it political suicide for her. She would not be joining to shout from the hilltops of Mt Olives that building in Jerusalem should cease, because that is not the position of her Kadima party. Nor is it the position of the Likud, nor of Israel our Home, nor of even the Labor party. She would be consigned to supporting the government, generals or hawks, when they said it was go time on any range of burning issues sure to flare up shortly. That’s hardly the glowing foreign policy triumph perhaps imagined in the Obama situation room of genius, a even wider coalition support base for Netanyahu to wield the military card from..
Frankly, under no scenario here do any of the Obama moves of late make much sense. No matter the scenario, Netanyahu comes out strengthened. Even worse for Obama, Netanyahu’s positions represent the current Israeli consensus and there’s nothing Obama or even Livni can do about it. Both can either fall in line or play the politically dangerous US game of Israel crisis, that’s a game that inevitably leads to bloodshed & war.
Maybe they should try knocking on the Palestinian’s door instead & asking when they intend to negotiate for peace?
Mofaz tables Disengagement+ in bid to top Livni
The internal battle for the Kadima leadership rolls on. Shaul Mofaz the party #2 seized an opportune moment (all Israeli political heavy weights abroad) to let loose a bombshell as part of his leadership bid, a new peace plan.. To recognize a Palestinian State!
[...] Under the plan, Israel would annex settlement blocs while withdrawing from 60 percent of the West Bank, comprising Areas A and B, where 99.2 of the Palestinians live, and additional land to create territorial contiguity. A Palestinian state would be set up in those areas of the West Bank and in Gaza, while no settlements would be evacuated at that stage.
Israel would then negotiate the fate of the rest of the West Bank and other core issues of the conflict with the leadership of the new Palestinian state, while passing legislation sanctioning compensation for settlers living in outlying settlements that would be evacuated.
“As a candidate to lead the country, I felt I had to present a plan” – Mofaz. [...]
Mofaz’s plan is very different than Livni’s Annapolis process, in which Israel would make no concessions to the Palestinians until a final-status deal would be reached on all issues. Bypassing Livni on the left, Mofaz said he would be willing to negotiate with Hamas under certain conditions to advance the plan.
“If Hamas would be elected and would want to negotiate and accept the quartet’s conditions, from that moment, it is no longer Hamas,” Mofaz said. “Responsible leadership in Israel would sit with those who changed their agenda.” [...]
Please everyone but Israel plan..
Not quite sure what if any benefit would arise from Mofaz’s plan. We already tried the disengagement plan in Gaza with poor results. This time out Mofaz seems convinced the entity leading this proposed Palestinian state may be Hamas from the get go, yet he’s undeterred. Isn’t the objective supposed to be gaining some peace? It seems highly unlikely any deal would result from this disengagement+ plan, we’d be in the same spot we are in now less the land and with 10x the security threat.
Equally, this doesn’t assist us in any way securing a regional peace deal with the Arab world. Sorta looks like a plan full of rewards for all the wrong people (including terrorists) with little payoff for Israel. Mofaz is clearly gambling he can rely on his solid right military credentials.. While leaping way left, poaching at Livni’s support base in the mix of Labor, Kadima, Meretz liberal soup that exists.
Time will tell how solid that keeps his right flank in Kadima & beyond. The center party is comprised of both right & left after all. Is this electable? Olmert certainly tried, but witness the backlash in Israel with the resurgent right as a result.
Not that it matters much – Hamas responds..
Former Palestinian Authority foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas responded that it would never accept the Quartet’s conditions, which include recognizing Israel, disarming terrorists, and accepting diplomatic deals signed by the PA.
“Hamas will not negotiate with Israel,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. “We do not believe in engaging with the occupation, or in talks that would beautify its face in the eyes of the world.” [...]
Mofaz is gunning for Livni
Shaul is sure to get much more headway with his plan internally within Kadima. He upstages Livni who’s leadership qualities are being weekly challenged within the party, he even tosses in the fact Ehud Barak & President Peres support the initiative. All subtle jabs at Tzipi. Her personal relationship with Barak is frosty at best, and her own plan beyond opposing Netanayhu in everything remains obscured. The strategy of undermining her here is already paying off..
Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Tuesday slammed party rival Shaul Mofaz’ plan to open negotiations with Hamas in order to push forth the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying the concept ran contrary to their faction’s political platform.
While Livni would prefer to ignore the initiative of her number 2, however, she will not be able to avoid the issue for very long, as Kadima MKs are demanding a serious discussion. [...]
A number of Kadima MKs, some of whom supported Livni in her primary fight against Mofaz, support discussing his proposal. [...]
Not Ready for Prime Time
All in all it doesn’t look like Mofaz’s plan will gain much traction in the wider Israel arena, it’s too far left for the climate, not too mention dreamy in regards to Hamas. But I’m not sure it was designed for that purpose. With Bibi, Lieberman, Barak, Livni all clamoring at the top for the leadership of Israel stakes, it is a bit crowded up there right now.
Mofaz has other things to worry about, he’s got to knock Livni out of the Kadima leadership perch before he can play on their turf. His plan looks like the latest in a series of ever more forceful branch shakes.
Link Update: Mofaz taking heat & clarifying his Hamas statements (Jpost)
“I was the one who fought Hamas through the crosshairs of an Apache [assault helicopter], I stood behind the assassinations of [Sheikh Ahmed] Yassin and [Abdel Aziz] Rantisi and did everything I could to halt the suicide-bombers’ terror from Judea and Samaria during Operation Defensive Shield, and was in charge of the ongoing hits on top Hamas figures between 2003-2005 in Gaza. Nobody can doubt what I think about Hamas.”
The Knesset is clearly back in session..
Been a while since I did some politics, mostly related to the fact that Israel’s Parliament was on summer recess. But, have no fear – They’re back & raring to go! Kadima’s Livni late last week opened things up pledging to bring ‘relentless opposition’ to counter internal party criticism of her, which has been mounting steadily.
Her first major move was to sharply criticize Defense Minister & Labor leader Ehud Barak for spending a wad-load of money on a recent excursion to a Paris military exhibition (He was representing Israel’s significant weapons export industry).
Will that be cash or credit? $150,000 dollar hotel bill
Barak & his crew certainly spent a pretty penny, staying in one of Paris’ most expensive hotels & burning serious cash. Not exactly a smooth move by Ehud in tough economic times while on public dime.
In response, Livni pulled her typical above the fray gambit taking an opposition position criticizing Barak on ethics.. Laudable, but surely it occurred to someone in the Kadima brain trust that with former Kadima PM Olmert literally on trial for corruption, playing the little angel might not be the wisest of moves or tactics!?
That’s when all hell broke loose..
Until now, most of the heat Livni has felt has been internal from Kadima, but her critique & the fresh Knesset session clearly caused a snap – Get a load of the Labor & Likud responses!
“The double standards and hypocrisy of Livni have reached new heights,” Labor responded in an official message. “She would be better off checking first what is going on in her own party, which is the most corrupt party in the history of Israeli politics [and] which has created, through a number of scandals, reprehensible norms in public, criminal and ethical fields. The entire public remembers the parade of suspects for violation of public trust, theft, false documentation, vice and other offenses.
There are some double entendres in there. Olmert as mentioned, but also the criticism that Kadima corruption resulted in Livni stealing the party leadership, sidelining her rival Shaul Mofaz in last years party leadership race – A key source of the welling of internal resistance Livni is facing within Kadima, a divided house. The statement goes on..
“Livni’s voice was not heard then,” the response continued. “Livni would be better off remaining silent rather than reciting slogans from her public relations advisers, and to act in accordance with the saying that ‘people who have butter smeared on their heads shouldn’t go out in the sun.’”
That’s coming from the Labor Peace Party! Never fear however, Kadima’s rivals in the Likud (her former home) had some choice words for her too. Effectively making this broadcast in stereo..
A senior Likud official also issued a response, blasting “Mrs. Livni’s hypocrisy,” which he said was “breaking records in Israeli politics.”
Everyone is clearly well rested and ready to rock up there in Knesset land.. We’re already in ‘record breaking territory’. Should be a fantastic silly season, nothing could make me happier. I’m going to need to buy more popcorn for the big show : )
Kadima GoldenGirl needs some polish
Things started off well enough this week for Mrs Livni. She was as happy as a peacock eating dinner with Madonna in Tel Aviv this week. This garnered her the most attention she’s been able to muster herself in weeks and she sure does love attention. The international superstar later visited Netanyahu’s home to light Shabbat candles (no, I’m not referring to Livni).
But the fun ended quickly in Kadima faction meetings, replaced by some blistering criticism..
The Kadima faction’s pre-Rosh Hashana gathering at the Knesset on Wednesday turned out to be not very festive, as party head Tzipi Livni endured rare criticism from someone other than her number two in the party, MK Shaul Mofaz.
Mofaz was joined in criticizing Livni’s management of the party by MKs Avi Dichter, Ze’ev Boim, and Gideon Ezra. The main issues of dissent were the handling of the party’s finances and a change to the party’s constitution that was enabled by temporarily removing regional council heads from Kadima’s governing council.
Sixteen MKs came to a meeting of Kadima’s house committee on Thursday during which party spendings were discussed. The MKs demanded greater transparency and complained that the budget for 2009 had still not been passed in September.
“If she doesn’t start considering the others in the party and stop thinking Kadima can be a one-woman show, she is going to have a real problem,” a Kadima MK who supports Livni said Thursday night. [...]
You see while Livni is living it up, Kadima is in debt and facing serious budget concerns. Almost 40 million Shekels worth of it with little winning party results, and even weaker opposition to show for it. Here’s a sample of her latest opposition statements and they show Livni living in a sort of LaLaLand as her colleagues have protested..
“Israel’s leaders, the elected government, in my opinion, still hasn’t made a choice between two different outlooks. One, Jewish existence in every part of Israel, and two, the existence of a Jewish democratic state,” she said in a speech at an IDF pensioners’ event. [...]
“In our time, we built in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, they never liked it, but it was never the core of the debate between Israel and the world,” continued the opposition leader. “That was because they believed us and understood that our way was not one of biding time and trying to survive. With these attempts to survive and please everyone, we won’t preserve Israel’s interests and what is important to us, and we won’t progress at all.”
Huh? What is Livni rambling about here? The reason this has become the ‘core of the debate’ is President Obama and his need to create an artificial crisis with Israel for his own political purposes.. Not too mention his slimy move to totally disregard American / Israeli agreements – Which provided Madame Livni with the ability to see expansion ‘in her time’, and which were negotiated by Ariel Sharon when she was pretty much a nobody.
Nor was there ever any EU, or American celebratory cheering going on for settlement issues either despite these agreements. As usual Livni seems to coast along in a form of dream state above it all. I guess she has already forgotten Condi Rice’s vehement statements & threats to herself & Olmert over Jerusalem construction last year. Convenient. It’s all very slippery & slimy and it is a pattern for Livni. She boasts of clean hands & change, but the only thing she often changes are the facts and history – Usually to suit her megalomaniacle ‘me me me’ needs.
Country fairly united
Netanyahu has done a good job building strong consensus and boxing Livni out of any coherent position of opposition. Kadima is in trouble, so is Livni. It’s time to wake up from the reverie. Apparently many in Kadima feel the same. The Power of Me got Livni nowhere, how’s about she start looking out for the rest of us a bit? Maybe with some responsible, coherent opposition in the form of supporting the will of the People of Israel instead of courting celebrities like Madonna or Obama.
Last Friday, in my domestic analysis of Bibi’s first 100 days I made a prediction regarding Likud strategy & Kadima. You can read the whole post if it is of interest on the hows & whys, but I chased it with bold statements like these..
[...] Bibi is a masterful political operator. He has pulled the rug out from under Livni, and if Mofaz is smart he will make his move to push for coalition. If Netanyahu is equally smart and he is, I expect it in the next 10-12 weeks as posted above.
Resistance is futile..
Should Kadima resist.. We may see it fracture with Mofaz leaving. The challenge for Bibi is mustering some portfolios for the senior defense Kadima man. The best case scenario for Netanyahu is such a fracture, for now he is surely content to allow Livni to wallow in obscurity otherwise, as the coalition play would be a pressure gambit only. Should he succeed in splitting Kadima (no small feat), the ground is clear for an opposition-less path for years ahead & a Likud power reign of the right.
In the wake of the State Budget’s approval Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close associates are setting their sights on the next target: Facilitating a split within the ranks of their main rival, Kadima.
The PM’s associates told Ynet that the so-called “Shaul Mofaz Bill,” which would allow 25% of the members of one Knesset faction to split and join another, is meant to prompt a Kadima split. “Should the Mofaz bill be passed, it will mark a significant strategic victory,” a senior official in Netanyahu’s office said.
The PM’s associates are claiming that at this time already, seven Kadima Knesset members will agree to leave their party and join Netanyahu’s coalition, even if Mofaz himself decides to shun the move for the time being. The prime minister’s associates said that in the near future they will be exerting intense pressure in a bid to approve the Mofaz Bill, in an effort to undermine the opposition. [...]
Approach to Danger
Livni, you are approaching the danger zone. It is no wonder that all of a sudden Livni’s tune is changing. Now we hear gems along the lines of ‘if Israel Beitenu leaves the coalition due to possible investigations of party head Avigdor Lieberman, Kadima would have no problem joining the coalition’.. More comedy gold.
Please don’t tell anyone that this ‘supposed aversion’ to Lieberman’s party is obviously the reason Livni spent the bulk of her own coalition efforts courting him, including such an invitation in her Victory Speech! to the nation on election night.
Oy! It’s not nice to laugh at your former party’s misfortunes, but I can’t help it. For a year+ I was posting post after post on Livni’s political fortunes, her handlers tall tales, and the fact that Bibi would eat her for breakfast. So far in my latest game of pick the political future I have scored big, with the Kadima implosion strategy now tabled as the next target for the Likud. We shall see if 11 weeks is enough time for me to sink a double bogey.. and watch Kadima split open like a melon.
Gil Hoffman at JPOST in a great article about Israel Beitenu’s legal woes and the possible fallout, mentions Mofaz as a dark horse for the Foreign Ministry should Avigdor Lieberman resign. But there’s the rub. Not enough English for Shaul in my opinion to make the position truly effective. What or how does Bibi shuffle the deck to make a tantalizing spot open for Mofaz to entice a full bail & bring a 1/3 of Kadima with him? The way the Kadima party& Livni treated him in the primary, it is difficult but doable as he & Livni seriously dislike each other. Will Mofaz try to oust Livni and take the party? Will he move to Israel Beitenu or more likely Likud?
No matter what there are fun times ahead for us Tea Leave readers everywhere.
Shadow Government: Livni Finally Builds Long Awaited Coalition; May Tap Kerry for Minister of Apologetics? (Video)
Perfectly positioned to the left of both Baraks!!
The road to a successful coalition for now opposition leader Tzipi Livni has been a long and hard one. Initially, with an existing coalition already in place and deposed PM Olmert stepping down, Livni swept into the Kadima leadership role with a strong 1% win over her party rival Shaul Mofaz, securing her shot at being the next PM. Swinging into action last September with Olmert’s coalition majority in place, she deftly blew through the allocated month time frame and requested the extension. Six weeks of hand ringing later Israel was off to elections with no viable Livni led coalition..
On Election night, Livni again pulled out a strong win, 1 seat over rival Benjamin Netanyahu. She declared victory on TV and set out to once again build the coalition to end all coalitions. Unfortunately for Livni over the past 2+ years her views and policies have run so far left that she has out positioned herself in her own center party, as evidenced by her last gasp desperation win over Mofaz. By the same token, she has in fact out positioned herself with the country’s center electorate! The result, an inability to secure yet again a coalition after the 2009 elections, despite having an albeit slim plurality of seats in the Knesset.
Vindication! Presenting the Livni Coalition..
(JPOST) Kadima leader Tzipi Livni finally formed a “government” on Monday, seven months after failing to build a real coalition when she had the opportunity to do so in October.
Most of Kadima’s former ministers will return to the roles that they held in the last government in a shadow capacity. For instance, Ronnie Bar-On will be Kadima’s shadow finance minister, former interior minister Meir Sheetrit will be in charge of matters related to local authorities and Avi Dichter will head the party’s task force on internal security.
The one former minister who will not hold the same “post” is former transportation minister Shaul Mofaz, who will be Kadima’s shadow defense minister. [...]
“We will watch over the ministers in the current government and provide an active alternative to everything they do,” a Kadima spokesman said.
Wonderful! Israeli government is not inept enough as it is, what we really need is ANOTHER inept Israeli government!! This second one will seek to undermine and provide alternatives to every thing the 1st government tries to do. And what pray tell do we have for alternatives today? Let’s start with whole sale surrender of Israeli interests to Barack #1, in the USA by skipping right over Palestinian signed commitments to creating peace, and going directly to the reward segment of final status issues. Woohoo, it’s a party!!
(Haaretz) Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Tuesday called the road map peace plan “bad” for Israel, in the wake of Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman’s repeated statements in support of the United Nations-backed initiative.
She said Israel should rather opt for the Annapolis parameters, launched in 2007, which stipulate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“According to the plan, a final-status agreement will only be reached in its third stage; as such, there will be an excuse not to talk. Refraining from talking will bring us to a situation in which we won’t have a partner for talks,” Livni, the Kadima chairwoman, told Army Radio. [...]
Road Map!? Step by step implementation of Peace!? Dismantling of terror infrastructure & endless hate filled anti Jew incitement!? Holding on to concessions for an ACTUAL peace deal as opposed to just giving them away slice by slice!? What is all this crazy talk and who signed off on this road map nonsense? Must have been Livni’s ‘confidante and political spiritual father’ Ariel Sharon.
Please proceed directly to the ‘Saudi Murder Plan’..
Who cares if the Palestinians can govern, hold up their end of the deal, or that for example Hamas rules Gaza like a terrorist mini state and is closing in on the West Bank as well. Not John Kerry apparently, in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week with UN / Peace Quartet special envoy Tony Blair testifying, Kerry pretty much had this to say..
- We cannot afford to miss this opportunity..
- We must pursue peace now with urgency to avoid radicalization..
Kerry’s description of the Saudi Peace Plan in that hearing..
[...] one particularly promising diplomatic opportunity & opening, King abdullah’s Saudi initiative that many felt did not get the attention it deserved when it was proposed in 2002..
Ahh yes, the poor maligned ‘Saudi Peace Seekers’ ploy, one of my favorites
Senator Kerry called for a new ‘regional roadmap’, in which the key aspect is the empowering of those Palestinians committed to peace, called for the President to be ‘firm’, ensuring that not only economic progress occur, but political progress on a Palestinian state move forward. He made ‘calls for action not words to freeze settlements and show concrete results’. Senator Kerry is an apologist, so we forgive him in advance for his naiveté. But even he is calling for the road map in here somewhere, buried between all the stern ‘tough love’ mumbo jumbo and praise for the ‘peace loving Saudis’.
Our leader of the exciting new Shadow Coalition Government is like Kerry also a big fan of the concession train, but the leader of Israel’s ‘center party’ is seemingly to the left of Ehud Barak, John Kerry, and even Barak Obama himself these days! Her detachment from the electoral realities and mood of Israel is stunning. It is little wonder why she hasn’t been able to form any substantial coalitions of late..