Israel´s election clouds are gathering, forcing Netanyahu to act (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Yossi Verter 04/29/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
Benjamin Netanyahu has been there and done that, yet once again he is
now facing a line-up of challengers with strong defense credentials,
as he did in the 1999 elections.
Thirteen years ago he contended not only against Ehud Barak, who
defeated him, but against his defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, who
had quit his cabinet, outgoing Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and
former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon. They all ganged up against him and
announced at every opportunity they had that Netanyahu was not to be
Thirteen years later none of those men remain in the political arena
except Netanyahu, who is prime minister for the second time around
and Barak, who has shifted from the attacker´s position to the
Yet once again, as Netanyahu asks for the public´s confidence in the
run-up to the elections, he faces a concerted, hostile, relentless
choir of ex-defense officials. These consist of former Mossad, IDF
and Shin Bet chiefs - Meir Dagan, Gabi Ashkenazi and, as of Friday,
Diskin appeared at a meeting of defense establishment pensioners in
Kfar Sava contrived to be spontaneous and impromptu, filmed with an
amateur´s camera. If Diskin´s comments had not been so scathing and
alarming they would have been funny.
He called Netanyahu and Barak "the messianics of Akirov and Assuta,
Caesarea and Gaza Street." That was uncalled for. What has real
estate got to do with performance and policy? One could expect a man
like Diskin to be more businesslike, rational and choose a more
appropriate stage than the "Majdi forum" in Kfar Sava.
Why has Diskin kept quiet for a whole year? Perhaps he sentenced
himself to a voluntary cooling-off period. Or maybe it´s to do with
the impending elections. Diskin´s statements will reverberate in the
Knesset in the next few days, as the three opposition party leaders
raise motions to disperse the Knesset and advance the elections.
Netanyahu will have to make a difficult decision. He must either
support the proposals and begin talks on an agreed election date, or
thwart the proposals, making it clear he wants elections only at the
beginning of 2013.
To carry out the second option Netanyahu will need his coalition
partners. Yesterday he found that the most important one, Yisrael
Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, is already careening gleefully
on a collision course otherwise known as the alternative Tal Law.
"On May 9, after we raise our proposal to enlist everyone, we´ll know
what the election date is," Lieberman asserted yesterday on Channel
2´s "Meet the Press."
He also said his obligation to the coalition was over. In other
words, Lieberman is giving Netanyahu a choice - either support us in
the Knesset and burn the bridges with your ultra-Orthodox partners,
or go against us, and I will bring about early elections.
This is the dilemma Netanyahu is facing this week. On the one hand,
it´s difficult. On the other hand, it is easy. As far as political
matters go, Netanyahu has not been one to take the initiative. He has
been dragged along. This is his chance to take the reins, go to the
Knesset and announce, as Ehud Barak did in the winter of 2000: "Do
you want elections? I´m ready for elections" - and hope the outcome
is different. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/29/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY