The American Bear


After Israeli Elections, Palestinians Bracing For Illusion Of Change | Amira Hass

… On a personal level, high-ranking officials of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are pleased with the blow Netanyahu took [in last week’s elections]. But to the Western diplomats who see the elections as a victory for Israel’s center-left, PLO representatives say that while Yesh Atid may be a centrist party in Israel, for the Palestinians it is a right-wing party in every way since it supports keeping the settlements in place and sees East Jerusalem as part of Israel’s capital. “It’s enough that Yair Lapid refused in advance to be part of a bloc with the Arab parties,” a PLO official told Haaretz.

It seems that because of the expectation that nothing would change, the Israeli elections campaign and the elections themselves aroused little interest in Palestinian society. According to Ghassan Khatib, a professor in Bir Zeit University’s Communications Department and the former Government Information Center chief in Salam Fayyad’s government, “These Israeli elections aroused the least amount of interest among us since the 1990s.” The Palestinian public is preoccupied mainly with the non-payment of salaries in November and December, partial and general strikes held by the public sector and fluctuations in the intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks.

As the Palestinians assumed, Khatib says, “The election results prove that as far as the Palestinians are concerned, nothing will change.” He continues, “I don’t believe in miracles. If the international community, with Barack Obama at its head, gives Netanyahu a free hand once again, there will be two casualties. One will be the two-state solution: Netanyahu’s policy will close the window to it completely. The second casualty will be the current moderate Palestinian leadership. This leadership is connected to the peace process and to the two-state solution. A weakening of the process and disintegration of the vision will necessarily lead to a weakening of the leadership until it reaches its natural end, because the policy it supported did not prove itself as a policy that worked.” [++]

Barak preferred to be the master of his own political fate | War in Context

In an analysis on defense minister Ehud Barak’s sudden announcement that he is withdrawing from Israeli politics, Anshel Pfeffer writes:

[I]n recent weeks, Barak has finally realized that his chances of remaining Netanyahu’s defense minister are increasingly slim. Not because Bibi doesn’t want him by his side; it’s simply because the odds are against him.

Barak has long been a hate-figure for the right-wing element in the Likud who blame him for blocking construction in the settlements and occasionally dismantling outposts. For months, while rumors said that Netanyahu might award him a spot on the Likud list – the prime minister had voiced the possibility that as party leader he would be allowed to “parachute” his own candidates into the list, which widely assumed to be for Barak’s benefit – he faced mounting pressure from his own party ranks against the motion. They didn’t really care whether Barak would become a Likud member or not; they just didn’t want to see him in the next cabinet altogether. One reason why former IDF Chief of Staff and Likud minister Moshe Ya’alon was expected to do well in the Likud primaries is that many members want to make it clear to Netanyahu that he is their candidate for defense minister.

Barak realized that even if Atzmaut would succeed in securing him a seat in the next Knesset, an outcome far from assured, Netanyahu would be unable to reappoint him to the only cabinet position he has any interest in. That was the moment he knew he had to resign and become master of his political fate.

Israeli PM calls for early general elections | Al Jazeera English

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has indicated that he would seek a new general election in September, a year ahead of schedule.

In an address to his Likud party in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening, Netanyahu called for the vote to be brought forward from October 2013 but stopped short of declaring an exact date.

“I don’t want there to be a year-and-a-half of political instability accompanied by blackmail and populism. I’d prefer a short electoral campaign of  four months that will ensure political stability,” he said at the meeting.

The decision has ended months of speculation about early polls, and formally confirm the early election date mooted by Israeli officials, including Zeev Elkin, Netanyahu’s coalition chairman .

Observers had long suggested Netanyahu would seek to bolster his standing ahead of major budget cuts expected later this year and the US presidential election in November.

Polls show that the premier could hardly have picked a better time to seek re-election, with surveys showing he easily outstrips his rivals for the office of prime minister.