Opinion: The Israeli Vacuum, What Happens Next?
In the recent past there seems to have been a decline in overt aggressive hostility towards Israel. Defense Minister Ehud Barak was even prompted to announce that 2010 had proven to be the “quietest in many years.” Few, however, have serious expectations about the long term sustainability of the status quo, and many are anticipating imminent escalation.
The looming dangers that Israel faces are numerous and complex in their nature, as is the array of individuals who have been tasked with addressing them. As we enter another new calendar year, perhaps an assessment of what some of the key players are currently preoccupied with will grant us a glimpse into what the future holds.
Ehud Barak – heavily engaged with growing discontent within his own party and with strong voices calling for them to boot the veteran of dovish Israeli policies, there seems to be a possibility that Barak will withdraw Labor from the current governing coalition and join the opposition. Netanyahu could save his coalition and secure a narrow Knesset majority that leans even further to the right by bringing the National Union party on board. Either way, while working to survive politically, the good news is that Barak is hardly focused on driving policy.
Barak Obama – after months of relentless pressure on Israel and flurries of heated activity, a deafening silence is emanating from Washington. Almost as if completely stumped, the White House is reevaluating its position and there is speculation that a new plan will soon emerge. One can have no doubt that whatever they come up with will be far from innovative, and many expect the arm-twisting to restart. There is a good chance however, that their expectations from Israel will be less presumptuous.
Benjamin Netanyahu – busy playing the blame game at the moment, he blamed the US for not going through with an extension of the settlement freeze, although it clearly should have been his default position, he slammed the PA for what he termed the ‘new three no’s policy.’ No to recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, no to dropping their demand for a Palestinian refugee “right of return,” and no to agreed-upon security arrangements on the ground. Netanyahu is still operating in the world of reactionary politics and his coalition looks shakier. Whilst still high in the polls, the future is beginning to look a little bleaker for the Prime Minister.
Palestinian Authority – whilst mourning the loss of his brother, Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is struggling to enforce his position as the propped up public figurehead stewarding the Palestinian Arab fantasy narrative. Abbas recently cracked down on a supposed coup attempt said to be orchestrated by Fatah strongman Mahmoud Dahlan. However, his duality will only be sustainable as long as his position is enforced by Western world leaders, as the very Palestinian Arab populace that he has fed anti Israel and Anti-Semitic poison to for years, won’t support his false overtures of reconciliation.
Ahmedinejad and Assad – these two are leopards with unchanging spots, orchestrating a token gesture here and there to keep the West wistful. This week Assad welcomed American Jewish leaders to Syria and Ahmedinejad invited some European leaders to tour Iran’s nuclear facilities ‘as a gesture of goodwill;’ it is however clear that their maniacal ambitions will not be stunted.
Hamas and Hizbullah – these growing terror organizations have recovered exceptionally well from their recent confrontations with the IDF and have restocked their arsenals to frightening capacity with new anti aircraft machinery and state of the art new weaponry from Iran. Whilst publically all but ignored by Western leaders, their street popularity and military prowess leave Israel with much to worry about. With their finger on the trigger, it is only a matter of time before they unleash a barrage on Israeli towns and cities. This time it won’t just be the north and south.
Avigdor Lieberman – shunned by many world leaders and the cause of many sleepless nights for American Jewish leaders, Lieberman is the most prominent Israeli leader with a plan B. Recognizing that the Peace Process is a fallacy, he wants to formally stabilize the current situation. A master strategist, his star is rising and in the event that new elections are forced, he will be ready and waiting to gobble up the scraps.
When weighing in on the factors of the current players, it seems that Lieberman is best poised to gain from the outcome of events; he is proactive, out of the box, and forward thinking, bringing new ideas on how to deal with Israel’s threats. His suggestions, however, are also temporary and cosmetic.
In conclusion, the frustration and stagnation on important issues affecting the security of Israel has opened a gaping vacuum in the world of Israeli leadership. The stage is set for a new leader to emerge with new ideas and solutions, and sweep the country off its feet.