Analysis: Good for Barak, bad for Barack (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 05/09/12)
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Two officers in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal (General Staff
Reconnaissance Unit) engaged in secret negotiations for a week and
shocked their friends when they emerged with an agreement.
The victor in the deal was their former commander, Defense Minister
Neither Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu nor Kadima leader Shaul
Mofaz belong on the list of winners and losers in the surprise
coalition deal they signed in the wee hours of Monday night.
Netanyahu does not belong on the list because he was a strong prime
minister before the deal, he is a strong prime minister after the
deal and he would have remained a strong prime minister had there
been an early election – which polls say he would have won by a
Mofaz does not belong there either – he would have been trounced in
the election had it taken place. The credibility he lost in
zigzagging from Netanyahu critic to partner will be hard to restore
before the next election, no matter when it takes place.
The winners list must start with Barak, who was walking, talking
political carrion with an election on the horizon that would have
left him out of the Knesset. Now he is set to remain defense minister
until after an election scheduled for October 22, 2013.
That means that despite his lack of public support, Barak will be
there when the biggest possible decisions are made on war and peace.
The second big winner is Natan Eshel, Netanyahu’s disgraced former
bureau chief, who was forced out amid harassment allegations, yet
came out of the woodwork to broker his former boss a sweetheart deal.
Kadima MKs who had no chance of getting reelected are also big
winners. The polls predicted that 28 MKs plus former IDF chief of
staff Lt.- Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz would have to run for just 10 seats.
Now the Kadima MKs have been given new life.
The two other winners are less known, but they all have been given
more of a chance of being in the next Knesset.
MK Haim Amsalem broke off from Shas and formed a party called Am
Shalem that now has time to build itself up.
MK Yuval Zellner (Kadima) was sworn into the Knesset Monday for what
appeared to be only one full day of work.
Now he will have the opportunity to be an MK for a year-and- a-half.
Ironically, the losers are also Kadima MKs, specifically the ones who
detest Netanyahu and will now have to defend him from inside his
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich can also be considered a loser in the
deal. She gained the plum title of opposition leader, but with polls
predicting that Labor would become the second-largest party, she
could have been a senior minister had the election taken place now.
Yacimovich could lose her luster over the next year-and-a-half, but
probably not as much as new Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid. Just
as he was seen as entering politics prematurely, he was forced into
forming the party and revealing its name unnecessarily early.
While Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was declared a loser by
television commentators for losing his role as a kingmaker for the
current coalition, he could emerge the ultimate winner if Attorney-
General Yehuda Weinstein clears him on corruption charges ahead of
the next election.
So who is the ultimate loser in the deal whose winner was Barak? The
answer is Barack.
Six months ago, French President Nicolas Sarkozy complained about
having to deal with Netanyahu. Now Sarkozy is free of that burden,
following an election that left him unemployed. US President Barack
Obama replied in that conversation overheard via an inadvertently
open microphone: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him
even more often than you.”
If Obama had any hope that he would be emancipated from Netanyahu due
to an Israeli election surprise, that hope is now gone. There is only
one way for him to avoid dealing with Netanyahu beyond the next
several months: Losing in November.
There is no loophole in American politics that could prevent that
race from taking place. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/09/12)
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