This article originally appeared at LobeLog.
The new Israeli government features a security braintrust that might be a bit more reasonable on Iran, but is likely to be even more hawkish both in the immediate region
Netanyahu has a new and untested cabinet
and within the country itself. Gone are voices from the Israeli right who favored a more reasoned and diplomatic approach to their right-wing agenda. They have been replaced by figures who want more direct action and refuse even the pretense of a two-state solution.
On Iran, the retirement of Ehud Barak removes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leading supporter in his effort for a strike on Iran sooner rather than later, whether that be carried out by Israel or, preferably, the United States. He is replaced by Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon. Bogey is also an Iran hawk, but is not in favor of Israel launching an attack other than as a last resort. He is far more content than Barak to allow the United States to take the lead and wants Israel to act only if it becomes apparent that the US will not. That puts him pretty well in line with the Israeli military and intelligence leadership in practice, though he sees Iran as more of a threat than they do.
In fact, no one in the current or even the outgoing inner circle came close to matching Barak’s eagerness for military action against Iran. Only Netanyahu himself could match him, and he remains daunted by the lack of support for his position in Israel. The ongoing hawkishness in the US Congress and President Barack Obama’s repeated statements holding firm to a military option and refusing a policy of containment also blunt Netanyahu’s resolve. It would seem that, at least for the time being, the calls for war on Iran will be fueled more in the United States than in Israel.
Ya’alon is a former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, but he did not have a distinguished term of service there, was not well-liked and returns without a great deal of good will among the military and intelligence services’ leadership. In fact, colleagues in Israel tell me there is a good deal of consternation in those services regarding Bogey’s appointment. But for now, they will wait and see how he acts. For a deeper look at Ya’alon, see my recent piece on him here. Continue reading
Israel’s new Defense Minister has quietly assumed his post, but considering his history and personality, we should be paying more attention. I examine Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon this week in Souciant.
Israel may not have a government, but the election settled one thing: both the governing coalition and the opposition will be led by and mostly composed of parties who range from indifference to ending the occupation to outright hostility to the very suggestion. I explore this in Souciant this week.
In this week’s piece at Souciant, I look at the lessons Bill Clinton’s mistakes at Camp David II hold for Barack Obama today. Many of the conditions have changed, of course, but Clinton’s mis-steps, as well as what he did right, hold general lessons that Obama must keep in mind if he ever decides to seriously re-engage in this issue.
Happy New Year, everyone. I begin 2013 by reaffirming my point that the right-wing, one-state forces in Israel are taking leadership to frame the conversation in a post-Oslo world. Now it is Naftali Bennett and his HaBayit HaYehudi party leading the way. Bennett, though a zealous nationalist and an orthodox Jew, presents a much more reasonable face which he puts on his outrageous plan for endless occupation and permanent apartheid. And, while we can critique his ideas, we need also to recognize that this sort of thinking is making its way into the political arena–it’s in Israel now, which means it will soon be in Congress and parts of the European right. An alternative needs to be developed and politicized; peace activists need to stop wasting time in the misguided effort to raise Oslo from the dead.
In this week’s article at Souciant, I examine the lack of political power of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Though they have the right to vote just like any Israeli, as Israel endlessly reminds us, the power of that vote in the real world is negligible, and not just for the reasons many disillusioned voters feel. It’s about the marginalization of Israel’s Arab sector more broadly.
Ok, maybe not forever, but in this week’s piece at Souciant, I examine Bibi’s strategies in his latest political shenanigans. His goal is the same as always, to strengthen his position and hold on to the Prime Minister’s office as long as possible. But it is troubling that so many factors are lining up to enable to do just that for a long time…