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Netanyahu, strongest prime minister since David Ben-Gurion

The new coalition demonstrates the absurdity of “the only democracy in the Middle East” slogan. Ninety percent of the Jewish public is now represented by the government, while most Palestinians under Israeli control have no political representation at all.

With 94 Knesset Members behind him, Benjamin Netanyhu is now the strongest prime minister in Israeli history since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of the country. Netanyahu’s Likud party alone has more seats than all the opposition parties combined. The opposition’s 26 seats are not even enough to call an unscheduled Knesset session – and even this number is misleading, because it includes the far-right Ichud Leumi party, which is not part of the government but so far has supported it.

There have been slightly larger governments in Israeli history – the three national unity coalitions that ruled between ’84 and ’90 – but these governments were the result of a balance of power between Likud and Labor that forced the two sides to cooperate. Today’s mega-coalition is built around one man and one party – an unprecedented situation since the early days of the state. Netanyahu and the Likud are so strong, that Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, himself a Likud member, expressed concern over the power of the executive branch and the lack of sufficient parliamentary supervision from now on.

____________

If one good thing can come out of this government, it’s the end of the myth according to which Israeli peace policy was hijacked by radical settlers. The settlements and the settlers almost never had major bargaining power in the Knesset – they are more the result of the occupation than the reason for it – and now they are weaker than ever. Netanyahu has no more excuses. Neither the settlers nor the left could get in his way. He is stronger than Ariel Sharon was during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, stronger than Rabin was when he signed the Oslo Accord, stronger than Barak when he pulled out from South Lebanon and stronger than Begin was when he signed the peace treaty and handed back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.

Netanyahu can leave the West Bank or annex it. He can bypass the Supreme Court, change the system of government, come up with any voting reform he wants, change relations between the state and the religious establishment, recognize reform and conservative Rabbis or start a war. None of his coalition partners have any power over him, since he could get rid of any party and still keep his Knesset majority.

____________

This huge government is no political accident. It represents the current zeitgeist in Israel. Except for 12 Knesset members from three left wing parties, the entire Jewish public is united in support of the current status quo of occupation and settlements. In the Forward, J.J. Goldberg wrote that the new unity government is a victory for the peace camp, but it’s no more than extreme wishful thinking; a desire to see in Israel something that’s simply not there. In fact, the Palestinian issue is only mentioned briefly in the agreement between Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz and Netanyahu, in a line that even avoids mentioning a Palestinian state. Article 9 to the agreement (Hebrew, PDF) states that:

The government will work to renew the diplomatic process and to resume negotiations with the Palestinian authority. The two parties agree on the need to keep Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and on the need to maintain defensible borders.

(The last sentence is Israeli code for a rejection of the ’67 borders.)

When it comes to the Palestinian issue, democracy in Israel is meaningless. There is no internal debate, no peace process and no peace camp.

Millions of Palestinians are living under Israeli control. Most of them have no voting rights and no say over their future. The million or so who can vote never had their parties take part in the government. The current coalition highlights the absurdity of the status quo: (Almost) the entire Jewish public is represented in the government, and none of the Palestinians have any say in the decision making process. Again and again Israelis make up their mind – with a huge majority – to withhold civil rights from the Palestinians under their control, and call it democracy.

Read more:
Did Mofaz sell himself short, or does he know something we don’t?
The irreparable damage of Netanayahu-Mofaz fiasco
Coalition deal’s bright side: Days numbered for rotten government
Through deal, Bibi buys ‘industrial peace’ for Iran war 

 

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Noam

      While I usually agree with your analysis, this time I have to differ. The “peace camp” has been in a coma for a long time, and the rhetoric WAS hijacked by the far-right, playing on common, legitimate fears, and mostly ignorance.
      HOWEVER, you must keep in mind that the biggest party was Kadima, in a campaign of “Tzipi vs Bibi” focusing mostly on the peace process issue. This issue, alongside respect for democratic institutions and a stronger stance in favor of civil liberties is what separates Livni from him. Socially they aren’t significantly different.

      What happened yesterday was a heist. It does NOT represent the will of the people, Jews and Arabs of Israel alike.

      Kadima got 28 seats S-O-L-E-L-Y for having Livni and not Bibi PM. That was the mandate given to them by the voters. They’re not a real party. Of course their voters can blame nobody but themselves, but they ALL feel cheated out. Kadima under Mofaz would’ve gotten as many votes as Meretz if there were elections (that was last week’s estimate, now he wouldn’t pass the threshold). Mofaz took these votes and twisted them into this nauseating deal with Bibi. He wanted at least 1.5 years in politics, perhaps thinking he could use this time to gain power. Bibi was suddenly threatened by several potential dangers to his rule during summer, namely Ulpana and Migron potentially tearing up Likud, a social protest wave, and the Tal law.

      Mofaz is playing it as ugly as can be. He has no mandate from the public whatsoever. This is also reflected in a poll from this morning.
      http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politi/1.1703572

      About Bibi being strong and having to finally show his true face, you’re right. These will be interesting times. But I think his strength is getting flakier with every spin like this. And I’m certain that this government just became the farthest from a reflection of public opinion in Israel’s history.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Append that the High Court seems to be writing the security apparatus a blank check in administering the occupation.
      .
      An unchecked State apparatus will go bad. But the costs will have to hit home; the West Bank is a black hole of no one cares. This dynamic is a recipe for an explosion. I don’t know what or how, but something will break.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Joel

      I have to agree with Greg. People stay calm as long as thy believe they have even a remote chance of influencing their own lives, either through the parliamentary process or through demonstrations and other channels. But this coalition can be influenced about as much as the next dictator. And that will result in something snapping, Israeli or Palestinian, Religious or not.

      Reply to Comment
    4. XYZ

      I believe the Left has no one but themselves to blame for this. When Sharon betrayed his voters and his promises by going back on his word NOT to destroy Gush Katif, he was applauded as a political genius, a master of intrigue and the second gretest PM since Ben-Gurion. Then when he broke up the Likud and formed KADIMAH, more kudos and he attracted a lot of Left-wing votes for the party becaue they and he thought (wrongly) that Sharon had once and for all destroyed the Likud and the political Right. This in spite of the fact that KADIMAH made it clear they did not share the Labor-MERETZ social and economic policies …again, as Shitrit said it “KADIMAH has no ideology”. Same when Mofaz says one day before he jumps to KADIMAH that “the Likud is my home and I will never leave it” he was cheered by the Left as well.
      Thus, if having politicians base their positions on lies and deceit, then you have to expect that even though THIS TIME, they are doing it FOR YOU, you have now set a precedent so that can do it AGAINST you the next time.
      The problem is the sick political culture of Israel. ALL POLITICAL CAMPS must get together to demand accountability from the nation’s leaders and say doing certain things, even if they are what we want, which are unethical, are rejected by all honest people.

      Reply to Comment
    5. caden

      What’s really disturbing is that if everybody is in the tent who is outside. A democratic country needs an opposition. If only to ask questions. And I say this has a very right wing guy.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Practicing politicians make a habit of aggregating their policy planks into platforms, that is to say, bundling them up together, so that you have to either buy the whole bundle or none at all, but the art of political analysis is to undo this. Now, here you have at least three, possibly four, main ‘left’ policy planks, all bundled up together:
      1. End the occupation;
      2. End social injustice;
      3. End aggressive wars;
      4. End religious tyranny.
      Each of these has different clienteles, which overlap to some extent but need to be examined separately. Strategically there will be an optimal sequence in which to address them: breaking the hold of the religious parties might be the precondition for addressing the social justice issue, which then in turn might make it possible to address the occupation and war issues. If the left is so tiny, it’s because it insists on presenting all four issues in one bundle, and the clientele for all four is obviously smaller than the clientele for any of the individual planks.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      “If one good thing can come out of this government, it’s the end of the myth according to which Israeli peace policy was hijacked by radical settlers.” That myth, the driver’s-seat myth, has always been obviously false. Since the Gaza disengagement its falsity has been blindingly obvious. So anyone who still believed it a few days ago will not be influenced by evidence, even evidence this strong.
       
      “When it comes to the Palestinian issue, democracy in Israel is meaningless.” I think you’re right, but for the wrong reasons. The issue is not how many Arab party members are in the parliament or in the government, or even about civil rights. The issue is that Arab Israelis do not consent to the existence of the state. In other words, in “rule by the demos,” a substantial, stable, politically self-conscious minority of the citizenry does not consent to such rule. For all the universal suffrage and civil rights, the word “democracy” is a hollow lie in this situation, if democracy is meant as universal (all adult citizens).

      Reply to Comment
    8. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Greg writes: “I don’t know what or how, but something will break.” A pretty safe prediction in politics, no? Especially in a topsy-turvy place like Israel? I predict that your prediction will come true no matter what anybody does.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Mikesailor

      ‘Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic’ is perhaps the most apt description of Israeli politics today. Forget Iran, that has been a sideshow only aiming to distract Israelis from the main issue facing Israel. As even the ‘security’ experts within Israel have admitted, Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons and there is no evidence they seek to acquire them. Also, the idea of ‘peace’ with the Palestinians is not on either Netanyahu’s or Mofaz’s agenda. They really don’t care to change the status quo in regard to Palestinian rights or ending the conflict because keeping the Jewish public in fear is the only way governing is possible within the ‘Jewish state’.
      Instead, Israel is facing an existential crisis with the ‘settlers’ and their own right-wing. The Israeli Supreme Court has thrown down the gauntlet deciding that their orders must be followed and setting a deadline of July 1. They are apparently tired of being a rubber stamp for both the executive and legislative branches with their rulings being continually ignored or circumvented. Their policy of appeasement appears to have ended. So, where does Israel go from here? Will the government enforce Court orders? Will they attempt to circumvent the Court by amending the Basic Law? Will the government ignore them completely? If Israel opts for the first option, they risk a civil war because the right-wing has shown that their version of ‘Zionism’ is not dependent on the state and in fact is superior to state dictates. They have shown they are ruthless in exercising violence against those who might disagree, including those they deem ‘leftists’ and the ‘security forces’ of Israel will prove no different if they enforce the law against these ‘Jews’. If Israel follows the second option, they will rightly be seen internationally as a ‘banana republic’ unrestrained by even their own laws and agreements. And the third option will cement that perception even more.
      Therefore, Israel is facing a second ‘Altalena’ moment. Mofaz is desperately seeking a way to keep from Israel imploding and therefore has joined with Netanyahu. Netanyahu will jettison the settlers otherwise the governmental structure will become a total farce, and Israel will quickly self-destruct under his watch. Both men want to exercise power but if Israeli government means nothing, what will they exercise power over? Israel has continually appeased different segments of their society, winking and nodding as such groups routinely bend if not break the ‘rule of law’. It is now at the end of that run and the consequences of governmental and political cowardice and connivance are coming home. The next two months will be interesting.

      Reply to Comment
    10. michael livingston

      Maybe so, but this is something like what people were saying when Yitzhak Rabin was part of the old Shamir Government, and we know what happened next. The reality is that the current system is unsustainable, and one suspects that even Netanyahu knows this. So you can buy stasis for a period but eventually change will come. It always does.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Good luck, Palestinians. Good luck, Iranians. Good luck, world.
      “The one small sliver of light is that what remains of the Israeli left, so long in hibernation or denial, may finally be stirred into a response by the antics of this ugly ruling cabal”, wrote Jonathan Cook. There is no optimism in that statement either.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Cortez

      @Michael: “So you can buy stasis for a period but eventually change will come. It always does.”
      - This is the truth. It didn’t have to be this way…at same many points in history Israeli government and elites could’ve done something…but I think Israel will learn the hard way like South Africa and Liberia did. I just hope people have a positive view of judaism after the system collapses.

      Reply to Comment
    13. sh

      It’s really hard to press the like button on this depressing piece, but I did, because it’s also straight, no illusions.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Rodrigo

      I have no idea what half the commenters here are smoking. A supermajority coalition of elected parliamentarians is some kind of proof of the absence of democracy. As if somebody twisted Mofaz’s arm to join. A consensus on maintaining the status quo is derided when even the author of this piece maintains that it is the most logical position. The Arab parties are excluded because of racism rather than because they consistently reject the consensus of the overwhelming majority. As if the Arab MKs from the major parties are getting chased out with pitchforks. Then there is word of implosion and deckchairs on the titanic. As if the select few on +972mag have developed a sixth sense to see an invisible iceberg approaching from all sides.
      .

      Grow up. The left lost. It is not the end of the world. There are elections in 18 months. Find an ideology and proposals that would sell to the Israeli public.

      Reply to Comment
    15. caden

      Rodrigo, I have to admit that when I see who is commenting about what a terrible thing this is I have to think that it must actually be a good thing. But I still have to think that Israel, more than most countries, has a range of existential issues. And it would help if there was an oppostion asking questions. But yes, if cortez and Mike Sailor think this is bad then it must be good.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Cortez

      Caden:”But I still have to think that Israel, more than most countries, has a range of existential issues. And it would help if there was an oppostion asking questions. But yes, if cortez and Mike Sailor think this is bad then it must be good.”
      .
      First, so the absence of democracy is an adequate response to existential issues that are mostly of Israel’s creation?.
      .
      I think this is bad because it might hurt the future of Judaism in Israel, democracy, the peace process and Israel’s legitimacy but then again I think that has already been happening.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Rodrigo

      Cortez, there is no absence of democracy. The ‘two-state inevitable peace with friendly Palestinians’ left is dead, not democracy in Israel. There is absolutely NOTHING undemocratic about a super-majority coalition. The arguments presented to suggest that are pure and completely illogical babble, and that includes the article that we are posting on. The fact that a position is unpopular doesn’t point to the lack of democracy. It points to either the inability of its proponents to make a compelling argument or to the conventionally accepted falsity of the position.
      .

      The whole premise of arguing that there is an absence of democracy in Israel is complete garbage. It is no wonder that an article and comments that base themselves on this premise are complete nonsense as well.
      .

      Noam, This quote is completely and totally illogical: ‘The new coalition demonstrates the absurdity of “the only democracy in the Middle East” slogan’. There is ABSOLUTELY no contradiction in a huge coalition and democracy. I am disappointed. I expected more than brazen political spin from you.

      Reply to Comment
    18. sh

      Oh, you’re discussing why this is bad? Because never mind the issue of role models for youngsters, voters looking for someone to represent them in the Knesset have indisputable proof that candidates not only don’t do what they tell you they will, they’ll be doing the very opposite all the while, without a twinge of embarrassment. Can negotiations with such people ever be a serious prospect? Forget it!
      .
      I see that those who are not brought up short by it call such conduct politics.

      Reply to Comment
    19. max

      @SH, I assume you presume that the youngsters forgot the volte-face of Begin and then Sharon? Did you then decry it as undemocratic?
      .
      The risk to democracy with the new setup has been voiced first by the Kneset’s chairman, a Likud person. It’s refreshing to see Noam echoing the threat. It’s a risk due to the move, not the move itself
      .
      The rest is rather motivated by ideology, not analysis.
      The people of Israel support the status-quo? It isn’t clear what the cause and effect is (besides the general common view that most people don’t welcome risky change). I think that most people in Israel are afraid of the alternatives proposed to the status-quo, not that they like it per-se.
      .
      As every manager knows, change management is a must for a successful change, and as was noted above by several commentators, the alternatives are perceived as worse than the status quo, even if only because of their bundling.
      So Noam, maybe you know better, but you’ve failed to convince enough people of your direction. And this post is a good example of why you failed.
      .

      Reply to Comment
    20. I’m not going to argue with Larry Derfner about Iran, because he has lots of inside dope, but I don’t mind arguing with Damian Lataan about it. Damian, your articles are pure supposition. There is no evidence that Mofaz has become a supporter of a unilateral Iran attack. It’s arguable that the whole idea of a unilateral attack is just international theatre, as you suggest, but if so, there is no evidence that Obama is part of the act. Rather, all the pressure in the US for an attack is coming from Republicans, and specifically neocons, and Obama is giving a convincing impression of resisting it. Therefore, if Israel did launch an apparently unilateral attack, it would be in connivance with Republicans, neocons, etc., not with the White House, and though the US would still be dragged in, Obama would be able to pose convincingly as a damage limiter, blame the neocons and Likudniks, and generally make mincemeat of Republican prospects in the next US election.

      In the second place, it is necessary to neutralise Hezbollah’s missile potential before, not after, attacking Iran. The main idea behind the Syrian upheaval, in my opinion, is to cut Hezbollah’s supply lines; that has to be effected before any attack on Iran becomes feasible. And it has not been effected yet. In the third place, there’s no particular logic to your idea that an attack on Iran would facilitate further attacks on the populations of the West Bank and Gaza. These are Sunni-aligned and hence, like Saudi Arabia, just as antagonistic to Iran as Israel, if not more so. The results of any attack by anyone on Iran would be to strengthen Sunni forces region-wide.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Cortez

      Rodrigo: Nope in an ethnocracy that has specific discriminatory laws and in a legislative body that didn’t fully represent all citizens and in a country that has occupied most of the south levant for a half of century without giving everyone equal rights, it’s safe to say that witnessing the decline or absence of democracy.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Jack

      1) Crackdown on minorities
      a)Blacks
      b)Palestinians
      -
      2) Crackdown on NGOs
      -
      3) Illegal to boycotte stuff made in the occupied territories
      -
      4) Pseudo reports (Freedom flotilla)
      -
      5) Deception, warmongering. Diverting focus from problems at home. Israel talks about Iran any time they are criticized.
      -
      6) No dissent allowed in Knesset. Turning the government into a 1 party coalition. With the focus to unify israeli politics all against the will of the people.
      -
      7) Rejecting peace with palestinians, instead choosing speedy settlement which have boosted with hundreds of percentage since 2010.
      -
      With such actions israel delegitimize itself and the 1 state solution as wished by many palestinians is coming nearer and nearer.

      Reply to Comment
    23. sh

      “I assume you presume that the youngsters forgot the volte-face of Begin and then Sharon? Did you then decry it as undemocratic?”
      .
      Lying by telling your electorate one thing while doing the very opposite doesn’t qualify as a volte-face, Max. Nor can young people remember political events they weren’t around to witness unless they are taught about them in an unbiased fashion. I decried both Begin and Sharon yes, for reasons make the word undemocratic irrelevant.

      Reply to Comment
    24. max

      @Jack “With such actions israel delegitimize itself and the 1 state solution as wished by many palestinians is coming nearer and nearer.”
      So what’s the problem? Everyone will soon be happy
      .
      @SH, sorry, I’m not sure which parts are irony and which are declarative… but you certainly managed to avoid an answer :)

      Reply to Comment
    25. Jack

      Max,
      Who said it was a problem?

      Reply to Comment
    26. sh

      There’s nothing to answer, Max. A lie is an intentionally false statement, deceit. A volte face is a major change of attitude without intent to deceive. Do I decry lies? Most certainly. Do I decry a volte face on principle? No, a change of mind or policy is not a bad thing in itself. You want to know whether I liked Begin and Sharon? Okay, no. Did I sometimes respect certain facets of Begin? Yes.

      Reply to Comment
    27. max

      @SH, thanks for the clarifications.
      I happen to dislike Sharon – and not because of his volte face – and think that Begin was an ideologist blind to human reality, a sure recipe for failure in politics.
      I also agree with your distinction between volte face and lie, but don’t understand how you know that Mofaz’ was a lie, and don’t see why a volte face is less undemocratic than a lie, when it touches the very principle you were elected for

      Reply to Comment
    28. sh

      You suppose much more than you read, Max. I used neither the word undemocratic nor the words volte face, you did. Nor did I say Mofaz alone lied, I referred to lies. You could say, if you wanted to be generous, that Bibi was keeping his options open, testing the waters when he announced elections and introduced his bill to dissolve the Knesset. But I don’t wish to be generous.
      .
      To move on to something else, what Rowan said about the left’s bundling policy planks is true. There are a few more than he mentioned, but doing it like that whittles down potential support no end. We all know the issue that needs prioritizing above all others.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Hi Rowan Berkeley,
      You’re quite right about the neoconservatives and the Republicans being at the forefront of the push for an attack against Iran. And, of course, one should not forget the Israel lobby in the US and around the world that also back an attack against Iran.
      War is a very serious business and world leaders do not talk of it lightly just for political effect as you infer.
      While any analyst should take note of the words that flow back and forth that are published in the media, they really should be read in conjunction with the reality of certain geo-political circumstances while, at the same time, being aware of the long term aims and goals of the players.
      The civil war being carried on in Syria is because the people are fed up with Assad; simple as that. Yes, Assad supports Hezbollah and Hezbollah would rather Assad stay in power. But if Assad is overthrown, the new regime that replaces him is unlikely to suddenly become all friendly with Israel. Israel still occupies the Golan Heights which most Syrians, no matter which side they’re on, would dearly love to have back.
      There is no big international conspiracy in Syria. Sure, the Israelis and the West want to see Assad gone and for that reason they are supporting the rebels but after the experience in Libya and Egypt, and to a lesser extent in Tunisia, the Israelis and the West also know that what replaces these regimes can be of even greater danger to them than those they’ve helped get rid off. Indeed, you might recall, Netanyahu pleaded with the US and the West to ensure that Mubarak in Egypt stay in control in the early days of that revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood and some of their offshoot organisations tend to bicker among themselves but none of them have any more time for Israel and the US than they do for Assad or Mubarak.
      As for Iran, I can assure you the Mofaz will now support Netanyahu’s call for an attack against Iran; Netanyahu would not have taken him on board without that commitment. Mofaz’s opposition to an attack was simply because he was in opposition. Now he isn’t. It’s just politics.
      Obama has given every indication that he will support Israel when push comes to shove though for the purposes of domestic politics in the run-up to the election, he will not be seen to support war. However, he has ensured that the US military is very much in place to be able to attack Iran at very short notice and, depending on how things are looking politically as the elections draw closer, Obama may be tempted to give the Israelis the green light.
      Both Israel and Obama know that Iran has no nuclear weapon and, despite the rhetoric and the propaganda, there is still no solid evidence to even suggest Iran has a nuclear weapons program. They also know that, even if Iran did have a weapon, it would not be using it against Israel knowing full well what the consequences are likely to be.
      The bottom line is this: This whole business about Iran’s ‘nuclear weapons program’ is just a massive con to provide a casus belli to attack Iran in order to affect regime change and provide an excuse to attack Hamas and Hezbollah in order to expand Israel into the West Bank and into the Gaza Strip and possibly even into south Lebanon up to the Litani River.
      Time will tell.
      By the way, it’s a pleasure to debate this serious stuff with someone who considers the arguments without accompanying it with abuse. Thanks for that.
      Cheers
      Lataan

      Reply to Comment
    30. max

      @SH, you’re right, of course, I assumed too much.
      Specifically, I assumed that your comment back was referring to what I wrote, not a diversion with neither facts nor any reference to the issue I raised.
      In short, I now _know_ that your position is based on preconception, not any examination of events in the context of democracy.
      .
      I think that the real danger to democracy in Israel is the left’s failure to get beyond criticism and come up with a credible solution, leaving it a negligible political entity and forcing it to come up with provocations to prove it’s still alive

      Reply to Comment
    31. Mikesailor

      Iran is merely a sideshow for the Israeli government, it keeps the Israeli public distracted from the real game. Look at the reaction of the government to the impending crisis with the Supreme Court orders concerning Ulpana and Migron to find the real reason for this so-called ‘unity’ government. Will the government ‘pull the fangs’ of the right-wing and the ‘settlers’, or will they appease them once again? That is the crisis, everything else is merely obfuscation.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Damian, what I meant about ‘international theatre’ was specifically the idea that Israel could launch a unilateral attack on Iran and drag the US into it against the latter’s will. I agree with you that if Israel appears to be doing this, it is because that appearance is useful to the US. But as long as Obama and the Democrats are in power, they have good party-political reasons to tacitly encourage an Israeli attack, while publicly arguing against it, then, if and when it happens, turn round and vilify the Republicans, Neocons and the Likudniks for it.

      I suspect that there is a secret deal between Israel and the Sauds, to divide up the region. Otherwise, Israel would be far more alarmed by the region-wide ascendancy of MB-type forces than it is. The fact that the Arab world was divided into quarreling statelets was very much to Israel’s advantage. If it is unified under indirect Saudi control, then unless there is such a secret Saudi deal with Israel, the Sauds would have to be regarded by Israel as deadly enemies, much more dangerous than Iran is.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Kolumn9

      Rowan, your presumption that the MB is aligned with the Saudis is just ignorant. The Saudis have no control over the MB, while the MB deeply despises the Saudi ruling family.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Piotr Berman

      Forced regime change in Iran is not possible because at least two major powers that can stop such a move are in opposition: China and Russia. On top of that, Pakistan seems to have better relations with Iran than with USA (however it may surprise many Americans, drone attacks on pakistan soil are not popular, to put it mildly. India is not supportive either. In another spot on the globe, like Libya, that would not make that much of a difference.

      Importantly, the internal situation in Iran is quite stable. Israeli attack would either be directed narrowly at the nuclear program that has no military and strategic importance, or on other sites, leading to much more wrathful retribution.

      US and NATO forces in Afghanistan can be placed in a desperate siege, cut-off from military supplies other than by airlift, and short of fuel, while the insurgency can get generous supply of missiles that can be directed at vehicles, drones, helicopters and planes on the ground. Also, Hindukush mountains in the center of Afghanistan are home to a Persian speaking Shia population, there is no insurrection thee now, and would one start, Afghanistan controlled by the government and NATO forces would become a necklace of disjoint islands with little communication from one to another.

      A larger destruction in Iran may lead to the closure of Hormuz.

      A larger American attack on Iran may lead to Russian veto, military aid and nuclear threat (as a form of veto on American attacks, Diego Garcia is a dream of a threat target: no civilians and important!).

      I admit that there is a lot of speculation here, but the bottom line is that Israeli attack on Iran has practically no upside and the downside of the size of Mariana Trench.

      Reply to Comment
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