Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why Shamir And Netanyahu Fell--And The Lesson To Be Learned

The consensus is that Yitzchak Shamir fell from power because of the tension between him and the first President Bush. Netanyahu likewise, during his first tenure as Prime Minister, did not get along well with the White House.

Shmuel Rosner agrees that is the consensus:
However, the falls of both Shamir and Netanyahu were not the direct result of their contentious dealings with the U.S. In fact, both prime ministers lost their jobs when they decided to abide by American demands. Shamir went to the Madrid conference and lost the right-wing parties of his coalition, as the official site of Israel’s Knesset describes it:

The Twelfth Knesset officiated for three years and eight months, during which two governments presided, both headed by Yitzhak Shamir. The first of which - the 23rd Government - was forced to resign after a defeat in a no-confidence motion over the negotiations with the Palestinians. The elections to the 13th Knesset were brought forward following the breakdown of the coalition in Shamir’s second government. Three right-wing parties — Tzomet, Tehiya and Moledet — resigned from the Government in protest over the Madrid Conference.

Netanyahu faced similar opposition within his own camp after going to the Wye Plantation summit and signing accords that were unacceptable to members of the Netanyahu coalition: “The normal term of the 14th Knesset should have expired in November 2000. However, the Knesset passed a law for its early dissolution on 4 January 1999, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had difficulty getting the governing coalition members to support his Middle East peace policy, and the state budget for 1999.”It is worth remembering that both Shamir and Netanyahu were ousted by right-wing members of their coalitions. [emphasis added]

That is an interesting point of view--it would certainly alter the issue of whether Netanyahu and Obama are on friendly terms. It is one thing to say that US pressure would strengthen Bibi instead of weakening him; it is another to say that Netanyahu's strength comes from within his own party and coalition regardless of how Netanyahu and Obama get along.

As Rosner concludes:
What this means for Netanyahu today — days before he is slated to speak in response to Barack Obama’s Cairo speech — is that keeping the members on the right of his camp happy is no less important (politically) than keeping the U.S. happy. As the right has proved twice in the past, it does not hesitate when it comes to abandoning what it considers a “disappointing” prime minister.
Of course, if the US decides to apply adversarial pressure as oppoed to 'friendly' pressure--all bets are off.

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