Friday, February 20, 2009

The New Israeli Government: E Pluribus Duo?

Shmuel Rosner writes about the criticism of already being heard of the Netanyahu government, based on the assumption that without the addition of Livni and the inclusion of Lieberman it will be an extreme right-wing coalition. Livni is thus holding back from Netanyahu the ability to create a unity government that will negate that labeling:
If Livni chooses not to join the coalition and Labor remains in the opposition (left-wing Meretz, with its meager three mandates, has little bearing on the viability of a coalition) - who else would there be for Netanyahu to work with? Do these doomsday-prophets want Israel to vote again because they didn’t like the initial outcome? Do they want the interim government to stay in power indefinitely?
Putting aside that the answer is yes--to both of those questions, Paul Mirengoff of Powerline suggests that Netanyahu might yet be able to include Kadima in a coalition, even without Livni:

But I wonder whether the less leftist, more hawkish elements of Kadima might be willing to join a Netanyahu government. After all, Kadima was not founded (only a few years ago) as a party committed to making concessions to the Palestinians in the hope of obtaining promises of peace. To the contrary, Kadima was founded by the hawkish Ariel Sharon on a platform disengagement from the Palestinians. To be sure, this meant giving up land, but the territory was abandoned unilaterally, not pursuant to a peace process but in order to make Israel easier (with the help of a massive fence) to defend.

Those who joined Kadima did so in part, I suspect out of opportunism/loyalty to Sharon and in part because they agreed with Sharon at that moment about withdrawing from certain territory. Today, the opportunistic move might well be to abandon this borderline ersatz party. And Sharon's program, which he carried out in part, no longer defines the debates.

The defining issues now are whether to revisit the "land for peace" dead end and what to do about Iran. It's not hard to imagine that there are elements in Kadima with views on these matters are closer to Netanyahu's than to Livni's.

Even assuming Mirengoff is right, the point Rosner raises still remains: critics of Netanyahu will still claim that Netanyahu's coalition is a unity government in name only, consisting only of right-wingers.

Will the end result be a coaltion with Netanyahu and Livni rotating as leaders of Israel?

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