Beyond the Cusp

October 25, 2014

Election Talk in Israel; Real Desire or Simply Idle Gossip?

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There are polls, editorials, talk show topics and all of the regular chatter and undertones that the current government is losing the support of the people or that the Prime Minister may call for elections while he feels certain his party will take the plurality, as a majority in Israeli politics of a political party of one for each citizen, or at least almost every whim having its own party even if simply to fill the ego of some of the most self-important people. This time the talk has some echoing reverberations which may find sufficient resonance to become amplified and actually have more than its rumored strength to the point of forcing real change, and in Israel change always means a new government, as does expectations of cemented static voter preference of the current Knesset representation. That is what makes following Israeli politics more like a carnival target shoot where each barrel has different warping causing their own spins and diverging paths which may not remain identical for more than two consecutive shots. You pay your monies and you take your chances. The only certain truths of the current situation is that a majority in one poll claims they desire new leadership in the Prime Minister’s office while another poll the same week has its largest plurality finding no one more preferred or qualified to be Prime Minister than the present Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu. So, what is the world to believe if the majority desires a different leader but a plurality of the population claims to desire the same party which would be sufficient for the reappointment of Netanyahu? All of these debates and polls and gossip leads to one critical question; is there anything that Prime Minister Netanyahu could possibly change in order to return faith in Israeli governance or are Israelis doomed to continue stumbling along reelecting the same parties and getting the same limited choices of leaders who change little and continue walking the same worn out paths leading one nowhere.

The truth is actually easy to ascertain as there are demands the majority of the Israeli people now support and if these stands taken by the people would only be reflected in the governance then there would be only a faint echo calling for new elections which would come solely from the somewhat-so-loyal opposition as expected even in the best of times. The problem for any leader tasked with being Prime Minister is that he has to attempt to stride a line so narrow full of twists, and turns forcing any leader to jump through hoops and perform stunning acrobatics in order to mollify all of the demands and interests which demand his acts satisfy their specific demands. The biggest problem is that apparently that many of those influencing or holding sway over the path that Prime Minister Netanyahu has chosen to tread are not Israelis but rather are the many external demands and pressures from such as European Union and individual European governments as well as the United States out of Washington and from New York the United Nations, the Arab and Muslim worlds and the threats and dangers they pose and other pressures from international sources. The average Israeli may believe they understand these forces and the powers behind them and how they might weigh on a Prime Minister’s mind, but until you have led at such a high level, these influences are probably as foreign to you as they are to most of us. There have been some who I have heard who believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu has given far too much weight to satisfying those external influences at the cost of shorting on many of the internal Israeli expectations. So, what might be the steps that Prime Minister Netanyahu might take by which he could once again receive the support he once enjoyed.

Perhaps looking back to the point where Prime Minister Netanyahu had his support take a dive in the polling might provide some insight. After the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens by Hamas terrorists and during the three weeks of searching for them and their abductors and before their deaths had become a certainty, Prime Minister Netanyahu held a steady level in approval in polling, though as nearly the entirety of the Israeli public was holding their breath and praying and hoping, even as such required greater leaps of faith as time passed, made polling somewhat unreliable as it had a definitive reflection to the level of that hope. The following continuing and increasing rocket barrages by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror entities out of Gaza led to apprehensions and a general holding of the Israeli collective breath waiting for the other shoe to fall. After that shoe fell and Israel mobilized and set a date and time for a cessation of the rocket fire came and went triggering the Israeli military operations to disrupt and terminate the rocket fire began. During the periods of open warfare with intermittent ceasefires, most of which Israel agreed to ceasing operations while Hamas and fiends continued their offensives, the Israeli public support for Prime Minister remain high well into the conflict. Eventually the support began to wane but not for the reason many would like for the world to believe. The ire represented was due to timidity being shown by Israel in accepting virtually every offered ceasefire while the rockets continued to target Israeli population centers. Approaching fifty days the conflict approached a crucial point where for Israel to extend their military operations any further would have required a decision of whether the offensive was meant to end the rocket offensive or was it meant to retake Gaza and replace the Hamas government once and for all. The decision made by at the least a plurality of Israeli public, if not an obvious majority, boisterously called for retaking Gaza and split on whether to return it to Palestinian control or retain it retaking complete control over Gaza repealing the disengagement initiated by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a decision which eventually led Benyamin Netanyahu to leave the cabinet and coalition supporting Ariel Sharon. Instead, Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted and bent over deeply to ensure that Hamas would also accept the ceasefire. This resulted in Prime Minister Netanyahu suffering a severe nosedive in his polling and it has yet to rebound completely. This is the challenge facing the Prime Minister and potentially the Israeli public as well.

Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to be leaning to favor the demands for Israelis to disengage from any confrontational activities or military actions and return to negotiations, even with the unity government which includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad, universally recognized terrorist groups, which originate with the Europeans both as individual governments as well as the European Union and the plethora of NGOs directly financed by numerous European governments, both within Israel and within Europe, as well as the administration of United States President Obama who also is insisting that Israel also be prepared to make grand sacrifices and concessions even accepting demands from the Palestinians which cross numerous previously demanded Israeli red lines. Apparently President Obama has a similar disregard for Israeli red lines as he had for his own red lines he timidly refused to enforce when Syrian dictator Bashir Assad used chemical weapons against the Syrian people and rebel forces in an in your face dare proving that the United States under current leadership has no stomach for confrontation. Perhaps some of the gossip concerning new elections in the near future is part of Prime Minister Netanyahu testing the waters to discover how much trouble he might have bought for himself with his lack of boldness during the confrontation with Hamas and his refusal to execute the coup de grâce and put a permanent end to Hamas rule or even their participation in the Unity Government. Whatever the source, Prime Minister Netanyahu should realize that even should the Israeli not see anyone they particularly feel would be prepared and able to take the position of Prime Minister, that does not mean that an election season with the campaigning that nobody could make the case that they would be more responsive to the Israeli people and less so to the Europeans and to President Obama thus propelling their party into controlling the formation of the next government. The one guarantee is that should somebody from the Zionist or right wing of Israeli politics such as Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Liberman or somebody else were to try and form a government, should Benyamin Netanyahu as leader of Likud refuse to join such a government holding out hoping that person fails in making a coalition and then he would be able to swoop in a save the day, such a move could prove very costly in the future as it might be perceived by the public as being a bit pretentious.

Is there another and potentially more productive path that the Prime Minister might consider? The simple answer is, yes. If Prime Minister Netanyahu instead of worrying about what the Europeans or the United States President thinks or desires and instead put the needs and concerns of the Israelis as the first and most important by far influence over his actions he might even do the unthinkable, actually win a majority for Likud in some upcoming election, well, maybe not an actual majority but sufficient votes to have a strong unarguable mandate. It is hear from all corners of the planet that everybody knows exactly what the final terms will be in making an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Really? Is this well-known and unavoidable agreement be anything like what everybody knew would be the end agreement back in September of 1993 when the Oslo Accords were signed and the only consideration was where exactly the demarcation would be in splitting Area B to set the borders between the Palestinian and the Israelis with the Palestinians retaining Area A and the Israelis Area C? Could this known result for an agreement be anything like what was thought when the United Nations decided that Israel should return some part of the lands gained after the Six Day War which then everyone knew that all of the West Bank would remain part of Israel, especially after the Jordanians refused any claim when making their peace with Israel? Where will this well-known agreement be in twenty years when the Palestinians are also demanding the majority Arab Galilee and the Bedouins are demanding their own state in the Negev? Perhaps it might be to the advantage of the Israeli people if the Prime Minister more clearly demanded that which Israel feels would be a fair and acceptable settlement instead of constantly listening obediently to what others demand that Israel agree to. The Prime Minister of Israel should represent that which is to the advantage of Israel and not what will mollify any foreign or international entities. And if the problem is presented that without the friendship of the Europeans and the United States as well as so many others then Israel might find herself defenseless as none of the weapon systems would be able to attain critical and necessary parts then perhaps Israel should not have permitted entire sectors of her defense capabilities to be so critically dependent on foreign suppliers. Israel may have entered into a Faustian deal with the United States because they feared the competition of Israeli weapons manufacturers, especially the competition from the Israeli aircraft industry so they offered a very enticing deal whereby Israel got two top of the line aircraft for the price of not producing one. At the time that must have been irresistible and back then who could have foreseen that someday there would come to be a President of the United States who was potentially antagonistic to Israeli desires and needs. Who would have said back a decade or so that in the middle of a conflict between Israel and terrorist forces backed by Qatar, Iran and who knows who else, that both the British and the United States would threaten or even embargo arms or parts shipments even those items which had already been agreed upon and paid for, but that is what Israel faced during Operation Protective Edge. The lesson might be that Israel needs to make every weapon system within Israel and not depend on others for our parts and resupply. Israel already has made some inroads in the defense market and there would very likely be a well-received response to any future weapons systems including but not limited to aircraft and even naval vessels not to mention the possibilities for dual use systems such as long-range capable bombers which could also be utilized by El Al for passenger transport making everybody happy all around. Surely if Japan feels capable of entering the air carrier market there might very well be room for an Israeli entry. The time is likely ripe for Israel to reconsider some basics and perhaps choose a path of self-reliance and forge forward no longer being dependent on others. The newly found resources off the Israeli coast make such even that much more of a possible direction as Israel will soon be an energy exporter for the foreseeable future granting her a very much stronger influence, especially once Israel becomes an alternative source for natural gas for the Europeans outside of Russian influence. Perhaps Israel requires another strong Israel first Prime Minister who decides to make decisions mainly with Israeli needs in mind and instead of waiting for the world to define the boundaries of Israeli actions and even her actual boundaries the next Prime Minister can do the delineating. Perhaps it is time to end the silent building freeze and address the silent intifada and then take on addressing the not so silent foreign demands. Anyone who would act with such bravado would win the hearts and minds of the majority of Israelis and possibly win a permanent preeminent place for their party as well. The ball is currently in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s court and his to strike, may he choose the direction and spin into a different direction and begin the march to present a strong Israel which sets her own agenda and goes forward with a necessary defiance, if that is what it requires.

Beyond the Cusp

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