Beyond the Cusp

February 6, 2019

Expectations of Next Netanyahu Government

 

As the polls and other indicators currently show that Likud will once again be the party to form the next government, that raises the question as to what we might expect to come from the next government. As this will very likely be Bibi Netanyahu’s last trip in the Prime Minister’s house, we expect that he will be seeking to affix his name to something worthy of being called his legacy. The first thing we need to discuss is where his legacy stands at currently. The greatest claim to fame he could arguably have is he steered Israel safely through the turbulent waters of the Presidency of Barack Obama. He might try to rest his legacy on preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, but that may prove to be a very tenuous claim at best. Netanyahu might claim he prevented Iran from establishing a strong foothold in Syria; again, a tenuous claim as Iran is firmly established in Lebanon and Gaza, and Syria would simply be a small steppingstone which could be hurdled by other means. Probably the signature of the Bibi period, approximately a decade worth of rule, has been promises to build in the Shomron, making tenders to build in the Shomron, almost breaking ground for new structures in the Shomron, but largely all the Shomron has had to show for all the noise and fuss has been a serious number of demolitions, the near erasure of a couple of Jewish communities, large expansion of European Union backed illegal buildings reserved for the Arab Palestinians attempting to cut the Shomron off from Jerusalem and Israel, and backing off all plans for Jewish building to mollify the never satisfied United Nations, European Union and the rest of the screaming masses which make up the world as we know it. Some might even go so far as to say that the decade of Bibi Netanyahu had a mere placeholder in the Prime Minister’s house.

 

There is one thing which can be said to the favor of Bibi Netanyahu, he brought a halt to the disastrous two decades which preceded him. The first of which, the 1990’s, brought Israel one of the most disastrous ideas ever conceived, the Oslo Accords. This disaster was the natural follow-on to the concept which presumably allowed for peace with Egypt and then Jordan, the concept of land for peace. With Egypt, Israel surrendered the entirety of the Sinai Peninsula, an area approximately three times the size of Israel and containing the Egyptian oil fields as well as bordering the Suez Canal. For this sacrifice, Israel had a cold peace with Egypt until President Morsi claimed that he never signed onto peace with Israel only to have President Sisi replace him and state that Egypt would honor the peace treaty with Israel. Apparently, Peace with Egypt will be relative to who is the President of Egypt and their designs for Israel. With Jordan, there was no land for peace, Jordan simply accepted they had lost the region they had illegally occupied for nineteen years, and they surrendered them back to Israel. Of course, Jordan refused to allow their citizens to return into Jordan leaving them to become the bane of Israeli existence, well, another bane to Israeli existence, as if we needed another. So, despite the fact that land for peace sort of worked with Egypt and was not even applicable to Jordan, the Oslo Accords were based on these treaties and were supposed to lead to a lasting peace with the Palestinian Arabs within five years. The problem is that a full twenty-five years later and we are actually further from peace by all measurements than before the agreement. The main problem with both of these treaties, Egypt and Jordan, is that they left their brethren in Gaza (Egypt) and in the Shomron (Jordan’s West Bank) in order to provide an irritant which evolved into two terrorist regimes, the Palestinian Authority in the Shomron and Hamas in Gaza, ruling the Palestinian Arabs and turning their regions into inhospitable disaster areas. Granted, there are areas within both communities which are wealthy, well kept, developed and normal by all appearances. The people residing in these wealthy areas are those favored by the terror groups and those who provide their smuggling mechanisms or otherwise provide them with the tools of their trade, bombs, ammunition, rockets etc.

 

If the 1990’s proved a disaster, the 2000’s doubled down and brought increased tensions and laid the groundwork for the Gaza wars which followed. This was the decade of the deadly Gaza Disengagement which saw almost ten-thousand Jews lost their homes, businesses, communities and everything they had built all in the name of mollifying the insatiable. An American Jewish businessman donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in order that the entirety of the greenhouses and their thriving flower and farming business could be left completely intact so that the Arabs in Gaza would have a solid starting point on which they could build their economy. Surprisingly, that was exactly what they did, in a perverted and nefarious way. The Arabs of Gaza took immediately upon the exit by the Jews to take down everything left behind including the greenhouses. Not to worry, the Arabs of Gaza put the greenhouses to good use, in their own twisted concept of good. They turned the piping into rockets and rocket launchers of various sizes and used these to initiate the First Gaza War. One of the greatest deceptions was the guarantee by the European Union that they would take over the monitoring of the corridor between Egypt and Gaza, the Philadelphia Corridor. Well, their monitoring lasted less than a month and they were back in Tel Aviv quivering and complaining that the Arabs had threatened them. After their retreat, the Arabs tore down the monitoring cameras and they began to bring in by smuggling tunnels or stashed under burkas the makings of ever-larger rockets. This was eventually brought to a halt by Egypt under President Sisi, but even after Egypt destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in conjunction with Iran found other means of getting the weaponry through into Gaza.

 

There was to be another disastrous decision made which was in response to pressures from the left, with assistance of relatives of the troops stationed in Lebanon, which led to the withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The terrorism and the slow drip, drip, drip of injuries and fatalities slowly mounting and the dissent at home and the government caved and in a huge and frantic display of disorder, pulled the IDF out of Lebanon. This was heralded by Hezballah as a great victory and a sign that Israel would soon be destroyed. And of course, a war with Hezballah followed which was equally poorly thought out as Ehud Olmert declared some grand expectations for the Second Lebanon War, almost none of them realized, making Israel appear weak and Israel faced a loss of deterrence emboldening Israel’s enemies on all sides. The Peace Process brought exactly what the Arabs designed for it to perform, Israeli concession after concession with no end in sight. President Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century has hinted at it containing some serious Israeli concessions. Fortunately, the Arabs have refused to even hear the deal before refusing anything calling it dead on arrival, if not before. Since the end of these disastrous ideas, poorly thought out battle plans, reliance on foreign promises and all the other dreadful events and ideas of that twenty-year period, at least that was ended by Bibi Netanyahu. In many ways, we should hope that he takes ending the slide towards oblivion as his legacy and not go for something bold, daring and probably not all that well thought out.

 

So, at the very least, Bibi brought all of this slouching towards disaster to a halt, and for that we will credit him. On the other side of the ledger, it was also during his time that Hezballah has built an arsenal of around one-hundred-fifty-thousand rockets and missiles with many able to reach anyplace in Israel and even beyond. Iran was the presenter of these weapons and has been trying as best they are able to provide and affix guidance systems to the larger rockets upgrading them into missiles capable of striking within a few meters of their intended target instead of fire and hope, as is the case with unguided rockets. Iran has also been managing to provide Hamas and Islamic Jihad with larger and more powerful rocket motors such that they can now easily strike Tel Aviv and are on the verge of striking Jerusalem and Haifa, possibly Akko. The main and probably debilitating problem which appears to have hampered Bibi has been his appearing to care far too deeply what the rest of the world thinks of Israel, specifically the Europeans. Where his great care not to make large waves and defer to outside pressures may have gained Israel a few friends here and there, for the most part this tactic has garnered little. The United Nations General Assembly continues to condemn Israel almost monthly, or so it seems, and by large majorities usually one-hundred-plus with ten to twenty voting with Israel and the United States and most of Europe either voting to condemn, abstaining or heading for the water-cooler and being counted as not present. Further, despite Israeli airstrikes attempting to prevent an Iranian presence in Syria on the Israeli border, Iran has been making inroads in Syria, has IRGC and al-Quds force units stationed in Syria around Damascus which is not that far from the Golan Heights and the Israeli border (see map below). There have been numerous incidents where sniper rounds have struck IDF equipment including vehicles in use, anti-tank rockets and artillery fired onto the Golan Heights, rockets launched into Israel targeting the Galilee fortunately intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome systems, drones flown into Israel both armed and unarmed surveillance as well as other breechings of the border by IRGC and other Iranian units. The tensions along the border have been mounting but have yet to reach a boiling point. This is largely due to Iran not desiring to have any escalations which they do not initiate, as they desire building up their strength and their consistent attempts to stock the region with more missiles and rockets before launching any serious threats to Israel. Iran may also fear what reprisals could come from Israel against the Iranian homeland should they push Israel to a breaking point demanding such a response.

 

Israel Syrian Border with Golan Heights and Damascus

Israel Syrian Border with Golan Heights and Damascus

 

So, with Bibi’s Likud Party perched to be reelected to lead the next coalition government, the only surprises left are of a limited nature. The most expected challenge could be the indictment of Bibi over any of the myriad of investigations claiming improper behavior such as trading preferential treatment in exchange for more positive media coverage, bribery of media owners, receipt of “expensive” gifts from visiting multi-millionaires or billionaires, kickbacks from military contracts and other lesser charges. The media coverage investigations ran into a small problem, the media under investigation never changed their negative coverage of Bibi thus there could not have been any quid pro quo. The investigation into the kickback scheme did catch a few Bibi associates including a lawyer and others but Bibi was found to be free and clear of any gain or knowledge of these criminal undertakings. The receipt of expensive gifts we already covered in our article Israeli and American Fighting Leftist Wars where we asked exactly what is a person of extreme wealth supposed to give the Prime Minister when invited to dine at the Prime Minister’s official residence, a Ronco Veg-O-Matic and Pocket Fisherman? This particular “scandal” was over expensive cigars, champagne and jewelry for Sarah Netanyahu which was not costume jewelry but the real thing. In every other developed nation, such presents would be considered simply good manners, only in Israel is it fodder for scandal. Even were Bibi indicted on any of the investigations, such would not prevent Likud from wining a plurality of the vote and only were the Supreme Court to rule that Bibi could not serve as Prime Minister while under indictment would it change who would serve as Prime Minister, but Likud would still be the party deciding such. The only problem in such an instance would be whom Likud would choose instead of Bibi as he has not exactly nurtured an heir apparent as of yet.

 

As we expect that Bibi will be Prime Minister, no matter the rest of what are mostly irrelevant distractions, this raises what he will actually do should he seek to leave office with a more substantial legacy. If the past is any reference, then there is much to be feared. The Gaza Disengagement occurred under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Prime Minister Sharon was originally elected as the leader of the Likud Party. When he ran into strong opposition in his government coalition to the Gaza Disengagement, he formed Kadima with s smattering of politicians from the entire spectrum including many who were formally in the opposition and did so without bringing new elections. This was quite unusual but the Supreme Court was in favor of the idea of the Gaza Disengagement and, as good leftist that they were, sat silent allowing for the new government to be formed without having elections. Kadima was quite temporary as a viable party not lasting the next two elections without everybody either returning from whence they came, retiring from politics thus far or forming their own new party with hopes and visions of grandeur, as Tzipi Livni did with the Hatnuah Party which merged with Labor Party to form the Zionist Union, which recently separated from Livni sending her in search of another party with which to merge so as to break threshold and remain in the Knesset. To Bibi Netanyahu’s credit, he refused to join Kadima and eventually came out against the Gaza Disengagement, something which probably was difficult as Ariel Sharon was one of his mentors. But past performance of Prime Minister seeking a legacy were what brought about many of the worst disasters politically and otherwise which include the Oslo Accords and the Gaza Disengagement as the two most obvious. These legacies were to be built around the lasting peace they were to bring for Israel and died after bringing the worst of the terror wars Israel has faced. These include the Gaza Wars with Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are backed by Iran, the Second Lebanon War against Hezballah who is backed by Iran and the series of Intifadas declared and launched by the PLO which was renamed the Palestinian Authority to hide its terrorist past and which then turned and declared some of the worst terrorist streaks such as the Second Intifada which lasted from 2000 into 2005 before the IDF was launched into the Shomron and they cleared out much of the weapons stores and engaged terrorists which depleted the ranks in the terror brigades populating the Shomron. One of the hardest fought engagements was the battle in the Jenin refugee camp where the media played it up as destroying most of Jenin and used well-chosen angles for their photography and the claim of innocents being killed went through an ever escalating body count which began as tens and then hundreds with some of the final claims reaching into the thousands. The United Nations performed an investigation into the events as they refused to accept the IDF appraisals and once finished only served to validate exactly the claims made by the IDF and Israel, that almost all the casualties were indeed combatants. Our article What is Said About the IDF? covered this well and included a typical media shot as well as an aerial photograph which showed the actual area in which the fighting took place and the complete range of damage. The media shot and map at the least are well worth a look. They give a real example of the lengths media hype will go to tarnish Israel and the IDF, the military that the American military leaders decried that they could not live up to the actual performance of the IDF and feared that their actions in future wars would be judged by the standards set by the IDF.

 

Should Bibi decide that his legacy could be defined by making peace with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud, I never met an offer I could not refuse, Abbas, then Israel should brace for the ensuing aftermath. Mahmoud Abbas has sworn to uphold the spirit of the Khartoum Resolution issued by the Arab League in September of 1967 in response to the Six Day War and their defeat which included the “Three No’s”; “No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.” The Palestinian Authority has promised they would never accept any peace treaty with Israel in which the Jewish State would continue to exist. They will only accept a peace where even if there are two states, both would be ruled by Arabs and under Islamic rule only. So, how could Bibi make peace with an intransigent Abbas? Well, there has at times been the idea that Israel declares they are willing to return largely to the pre Six Day War borders, the Green Line which is the 1949 Armistice Line and nothing more and declare the parts east of the set border to be the Palestinian State, pull ever Jew out from the region, remove the IDF from the region and make a big deal about the entire fiasco at the United Nations expecting accolades which would never materialize. No matter how the border is adjusted, exchanging parts of Israel such as the Arab Triangle, better known as the Lieberman Plan where Israel retains some of the major settlement communities, actually cities, and the Arab Triangle is ceded to make Palestine as a land swap, a variation of land for peace. The supposed beauty of this plan is that it does not require anyone else to do anything for it to be executed. The expectation is that the United Nations will applaud and approve, the European Union will applaud and approve, the United States will provide a standing ovation and a couple of Atta-boys and the entire world will love Israel for their benevolence and grand sacrifice for peace. Unfortunately, other than possibly the United States, the remainder of the above is a pipe-dream. The reality is that once Israel has pulled the IDF out of the surrendered regions, and after there has been some minor adjustments all of which will be Israel giving up more land including the Jordan Valley Rift, a key defensive position, as well as likely some of the heights overlooking central Israel and the Tel Aviv metropolitan region, then within a year or two, if even that long, Hamas will move in and take over the newly minted Palestine. They would do so at the first election if such is forced upon Abbas, who, if he was smart, would flee as soon as the word election was uttered taking his ill-gotten-wealth with him, or they would take it just as they took Gaza and they would purge the entire region of all the PLO and Palestinian Authority leadership and faithful, just as they did in Gaza. Once Hamas has assumed control, within a short period, however long it would take Iran to fully arm Palestine, an easy task if Israel were forced to surrender the Jordan Valley Rift, simply by transferring arms across the Jordan River from within Jordan. If the Jordanians refused to permit such a transfer, the world can expect Iran to simply instigate a revolt within Jordan using the IRGC, that is what it was founded to perform, initiate terrorist attacks and overthrow regimes by instigating from within, Hamas would unleash a barrage of missiles and rockets upon central Tel Aviv and the surrounding regions where three-quarters of Israeli infrastructure, industry, population and international and military airports are located. This would lead to an end of the hopes of Palestine as the Israeli response could very well become Biblical in scope. Hopefully, Bibi will find a better solution to his founding a strong legacy as Israel can ill afford another Likud turned to the dark side, as did Ariel Sharon. Israel has suffered sufficiently from people doing the absolutely wrong thing for what they thought were the right reasons.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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