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Is the Gaza Ceasefire the End for Netanyahu?


The resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman over the terms of the ceasefire with Palestinians in Gaza has thrown Israeli politics into real turmoil.

Depending on whose analysis of this situation you read you may be tempted to see this as a good thing or a bad thing.  Bernard at Moon of Alabama sees a weakened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being forced to sue of peace after the upgraded response from Gaza.  From MoA:

The short conflict demonstrated that:

Israel is deterred. It does not want to launch another war on Gaza.

The siege of Gaza, by Israel, Egypt and by the Palestinian authority under Mahmoud Abbas, failed. The reputational cost of the siege became too high after Israel killed some 160 Palestinians during weekly protests along the demarcation fence. It had to allow diesel fuel and money from Qatar to reach Gaza.

The siege failed to prevent that Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other groups acquired a larger number of missiles and other new capabilities.

The Palestinians in Gaza are united. The resistance against the occupation is alive and well.

This leaves Netanyahu scrambling to fend off snap elections and the rise of the even more hard-line Naftali Bennett who has threatened Bibi's coalition outright unless he is made Defense Minister, replacing Lieberman.

MoA sees Netanyahu in a very precarious position, which he is, and will be forced to placate Bennett or risk a snap election that could see his government fall.

And it is on this point that Mintpressnews's Whitney Webb takes another view, namely, that this is not the political victory for Gaza the Palestinians think it is.  Since Bennett will step up the brutality to include all Gazans, including children.

With Lieberman's party already withdrawing from Israel's far-right coalition, Netanyahu will likely capitulate to Bennett's demands in order to stabilize the current government and avoid dissolving the Knesset and subsequent snap elections. Thus, the current instability facing the Likud-led coalition now seems fated to result in a rightward surge, whether it's through snap elections or through Netanyahu-led efforts to placate other right-wing parties and prevent them from defecting.

Other powerful politicians within Jewish Home, such as Uri Ariel, have also pushed for Bennett to be appointed. Ariel told Israeli media outlet Arutz Sheva:

Prime Minister Netanyahu should appoint Minister Bennett as defense minister and this government can continue to function. I think there is an advantage in stability, of course assuming that Bennett will bring security policy to a much better place.

Naturally, there is a desire of more than one person to be defense minister, but the most appropriate one is Minister Bennett, who was promised the portfolio by the prime minister in the past, and the promise was not honored."

Over the past year, Bennett has repeatedly accused Lieberman of showing "restraint and weakness" as defense minister, especially in relation to his approach to Gaza's Great Return March. Accusing Lieberman of "weakness" is particularly shocking given that the Israeli military under Lieberman repeatedly used lethal force to quell protests in Gaza, killing over 200 unarmed Palestinians – including children, medics and journalists – and wounding over 22,000.

As bad as Bibi and Lieberman are/were Bennett makes them look like Quakers.

So, the situation in Israel is similar to that in Russia for U.S. anti-Russian types.  If you think Vladimir Putin is a dictator and a dangerous right-wing fanatic (which he isn't) then you don't understand what stands behind him.

In other words, be careful what you wish for — regime change — because you just might get it … good and hard, to quote Mencken.

In effect, weakening figures like them empowers the hyper-nationalists who are 1) eager to prove the other guy was a wimp and 2) untested in actual confrontation.  So, they are unpredictable and likely to go off half-cocked.

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Attorney For Freedom