The high price of coalition stability

[In another stellar article by Glick she makes the case that Barak is calling the shots, not Netanyahu. Obama has embraced Barak because he knows Barak is the key to getting Israel to accept his demands.]

By CAROLINE B. GLICK

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues are doing their best to put a pretty face on an ugly situation. After nearly three weeks of deliberations, Netanyahu and his government caved in to massive US pressure to ease, if not end, Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

On Sunday the government announced that all economic sanctions on Gaza will be immediately lifted. Henceforth, Hamas-controlled Gaza will have an effectively open economic border with Israel. Israel will only prohibit the transfer of military material. Even dual-use items, like cement, will be allowed in if international officials claim that they are to be used in their humanitarian projects.

Netanyahu and his colleagues argue that these new concessions have now given Israel the international legitimacy it needs to maintain its naval blockade of the Gaza coast. But this is untrue. Even as he welcomed Netanyahu’s latest capitulation, US President Barack Obama made clear that he expects Israel to continue making unreciprocated concessions to Hamas.

Following the government’s announcement, the White House declared, “We will work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet and other international partners to ensure these arrangements are implemented as quickly and effectively as possible and to explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, including greater freedom of movement and commerce between Gaza and the West Bank.”

In plain English that means that the administration doesn’t trust Israel. It will escalate its pressure on Israel by among other things, pressuring it to provide members of the illegal Hamas regime in Gaza greater access to Judea and Samaria.

AS IF anticipating its next capitulation, government spokesmen told the media that in addition to ending economic sanctions on Gaza, Israel is now considering permitting the EU to station inspectors at its land crossings into Gaza. That is, Israel is considering a move that will constitute a first step towards surrendering its sovereign control over its borders.

The economic sanctions the government is now cancelling were not simply legal, they were required by international law. Binding UN Security Council resolution 1373 requires states and non-state actors to deny support of any kind to terrorist organizations. And here, in a bid to win international “legitimacy” for its lawful blockade of Gaza, Israel has bowed to US pressure to unlawfully facilitate the economic prosperity of an area controlled by an illegal terrorist organization.

There is something pathetic about the Prime Minister’s office’s protestations that by bowing to White House pressure the nations of the world will now accept our right to defend ourselves from an Iranian-controlled terrorist organization committed to the genocide of the Jewish people. After all, we have heard these hollow words many times before.

This notion that unilateral Israeli capitulation to terrorists would bring Israel international “legitimacy” is of course how former prime minister Ariel Sharon justified his strategically indefensible decision to cede Gaza – and the international border between Gaza and Egypt – to Palestinian terrorists.

If they attack us after we leave, he claimed, we’ll have all the international support in the world to really destroy them.

Today, the government argues, all we have to do is sell them spaghetti and cilantro and the international community will suddenly rally to our side.

According to sources close to the cabinet, the main advocate for the latest capitulation was Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Barak is the serial bungler. Ten years ago, he argued that his decision to relinquish Israel’s security zone in south Lebanon to Hizbullah guaranteed that Israel would have international legitimacy to really take it to the Iranian proxy army if it dared to attack us after we left.

Barak is also the deep strategic thinker who brought us the Palestinian terror war.

Barak promised that if Yasser Arafat rejected his offer at Camp David and so demonstrated that his commitment to destroy the Jewish state trumped his interest in establishing a Palestinian state, that the international community would rally around Israel and we’d have all the international legitimacy we needed to defeat the PA.

And in the lead-up to the Mavi Marmara fiasco, it was reportedly Barak who decided it would be a terrific idea to outfit the naval commandos with paintball guns. Doing so, he promised would convince the Obama administration to support Israel against Hamas.

A key question that needs to be considered is what makes policymakers like Barak advance such colossally stupid and dangerous policies time after time. Israel’s history since 1993, when then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres opted to embrace Arafat and the PLO, bring thousands of PLO terrorists to the outskirts of Israel’s major cities and give them weapons and international legitimacy indicates that three factors come into play.

First there is the fact that many of Israel’s leading politicians are simply not that smart.

They are happy to be led by an ideologically radical media that have insisted since the 1980s that Israel must withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.

Not only are they happy to be led by the media, they are loath to dispute its misrepresentation of reality. And so the second cause of serial bungling on the part of politicians like Barak is that they are, in the end, sheep, not leaders.

THE FINAL major cause of Israel’s strategic idiocy is corruption. On Monday morning, the police announced that they recommend indicting Sharon’s sons Omri and Gilad Sharon for soliciting bribes on behalf of their father.

After an eight-year investigation, the police said they believe that Sharon received $3 million in bribes from former Stasi-aligned Austrian banker Martin Schlaff.

Schlaff, whose former attorney Dov Weisglass served as Sharon’s chief of staff, was the majority share owner in the Jericho casino. He also reportedly intended to build another casino on the ruins of the destroyed Israeli community Elei Sinai in the northern Gaza Strip if and when Israel expelled its residents.

There can be no doubt that Sharon’s alleged corruption and his fear of the far-left legal fraternity that investigated his alleged corruption played a significant role in his decision to abandon his campaign pledge to voters, toss strategic sanity to the seven winds, expel ten thousand Israelis from their homes and transfer the Gaza Strip lock, stock and barrel to Hamas and Fatah terrorists.

Like Sharon, Barak has been the subject of several corruption probes. Barak is also known to have had strong indirect connections to Schlaff. For instance, during his tenure as prime minister, Barak sent shock waves through the country when, with no prior warning, he announced that he was ceding Israel’s rights to the natural gas deposits discovered off the Gaza shore. Barak’s move precipitated a deal between the PA and British Gas to develop the gas deposits.

Media reports exposed that Schlaff and Arafat’s economic bag man Muhammed Rashid were major shareholders in British Gas.

During his stint as a private citizen, in 2006 Barak sought to lobby Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin to permit Orascom, the Egyptian telecom provider, to expand its ten percent ownership share in Partner, Israel’s second-largest cellular telephone company.

Israeli law prohibits foreign entities from owning more than a ten percent share in Israeli telecommunications firms. Diskin refused to meet with him and banned the deal. Rashid and other Schlaff associates are reportedly major shareholders in Orascom.

Barak and Sharon are only the tip of the iceberg.

Schlaff’s connections to Israeli politicians run far and wide. Most of the leading founders of Kadima, including Ehud Olmert and Haim Ramon have personal ties to Schlaff. So too does former Shas leader Aryeh Deri. The ongoing criminal probes against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman include, among other things, investigations into his allegedly prolific business ties to Schlaff.

REGARDLESS OF whether these ties to agents of corruption are criminal or not, it is obvious that they have influenced the policy preferences of more than one major politician in Israel. And regardless of what stands behind his poor judgment, the fact is that it is this judgment that is driving Israel’s strategic direction.

It is also apparent, that Barak is being handsomely rewarded by the Obama administration for his actions.

Barak is currently on yet another junket to Washington where he is being given the red carpet treatment. While the premier is forced to conduct international diplomacy with Quartet chairman Tony Blair, Barak is feted by the White House, State Department and Pentagon on a regular basis. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Obama administration agreed to end its public campaign to overthrow the Netanyahu government in exchange for Netanyahu’s effective concession of control over national policy to Barak.

Barak has used this control to force the government to accede to every American demand. So far, he has convinced Netanyahu to take a back seat to Obama on Iran; to end Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria at least until September; to effectively ban Jewish construction in northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem; to embrace the cause of Palestinian statehood; to accept US mediated indirect negotiations with Fatah; and to pretend that the Obama administration is a credible ally to Israel.

Before heading to Washington, Barak reportedly gave Netanyahu an ultimatum: Either make massive concessions to Fatah that will allow Obama to claim victory in the peace process, or Labor will bolt the coalition.

So too, Barak is reportedly behind Netanyahu’s latest bid to bring Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni into his government.

Netanyahu and his spokesmen defend both Barak’s primacy in the government, and their interest in bringing Kadima into the coalition by noting that the Left’s partnership ensures political stability. If Labor were to bolt from the coalition, the government would be less likely to survive until the next scheduled election in 2013.

There is certainly truth to this assertion. With Labor inside the coalition, Kadima has no relevance.

So too, rightist parties are unable to bring down the coalition.

This would be a decisive argument if coalition stability enabled Netanyahu to govern more effectively. But the opposite is true.

Netanyahu knows the folly of his decisions.

He recognizes Obama’s hostility to Israel. He also knows that the US president is not going to do a thing to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Stability should be a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Netanyahu did not seek the premiership to achieve the goal of overseeing a stable government. He sought to lead the country to secure and strengthen it. As his latest concession to Barak makes clear, the price of governing stability is the abandonment of his leadership goals.

caroline@carolineglick.com

June 22, 2010 | 23 Comments »

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  1. Jews pay for Bibi’s ambitions

    After Israel refused to apologize for killing a number of Turkish citizens on the Marmara, Turkey canceled several military and intelligence contracts with Israel and closed its airspace to IAF.

    A government which gives way to the US on every issue cannot claim it maintained Jewish national pride vis-a-vis Turkey. Rather, the relations with Turkey switched from poor to very bad because of the petty ambitions of a few politicos who refused, okay, to issue a formal apology.

  2. Netanyahu procrastinates on Gush Katif evictees

    Netanyahu reviewed the conclusions of the State Commission of Inquiry into the Handling of the
    Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria by the Authorized Authorities: five years after the eviction and 15 months into the most right-wing government in recent history, the evictees are still homeless.

    It would be very easy to resettle them: they only want land plots to build the new settlements for their communities. The Disengagement Authority, however, insists on resettling them throughout the existing villages to eradicate the memory and spirit of Gush Katif.

    BB mirrors Barak Hussein Obama in so many ways. Their political strengths are balanced by their weak and corrupt character flaws and traits.

  3. may I quote the former American secretary of State, Donald Rumsfeld

    Do you remember the one about the sailors diving for your open fly? I could archive all my past references and post them in sequential order.

    Ted promised to filter you and your other personae out of here. Still waiting.

  4. With regard to the question of what is the future for Israel, may I quote the former American secretary of State, Donald Rumsfeld, who quite simply said.

    It’s knowing that there are things you don’t know that you don’t know about the future
    “There are things we know we know. There are things we know we don’t know. And there are things that are unknown unknowns. We don’t know that we don’t know.”

    He got a lot of grief for that. And I thought, “That’s the smartest and most modest thing I’ve heard in years.

  5. Ron, Please quit knocking yourself out by asking Yamit or anybody to accept your appoligies for not understanding Israli politics. Very few people do. You are a very sweet guy who loves your brothers and that, in itself, is enough. I pay as much attention to what you say as much as I do Yamit’s and the other commentators.

  6. SarahSue, this is for you 🙂

    Lieberman wins, again

    According to Maariv, Netanyahu personally negotiates with Livni about Kadima joining the government. If true, as it seems to be, it would represent Netanyahu’s full submission to Obama: on Iran, East Jerusalem, construction in settlements, blockade of Gaza, and now on bringing Kadima into the government.

    Left without FM portfolio, Lieberman would likely leave the government and distance himself from its defeatist policies, which he has embraced so far. Unless he is indicted, in the next elections Lieberman will be the only significant right-wing politician untainted with defeatism.

  7. Said the spider to the fly:

    Obama pleased with the vassal of Mosaic persuasion

    Immediately after the Israeli government approved lifting Gaza blockade, Obama re-invited Netanyahu for a ritual visit to the White House.

  8. Laurale here’s another BB act of treason and perfidy”

    1. Ambassador Oren Contradicts Official Israeli Policy on Pollard
    by Hillel Fendel

    Esther Pollard was shocked and saddened to learn Tuesday morning that Israel’s ambassador to the United States had said that her husband, Jonathan Pollard, was working for a rogue intelligence agency – implying that it was not an official Israeli intelligence operation.

    The official Israeli government position has been, for over 12 years, that Pollard was an official intelligence agent of Israel.Oren’s words are thus a direct contradiction of official Israeli policy.

    Ambassador Michael Oren told a Washington radio station, in response to a query as to whether Israel spies on the U.S., that “Jonathan Pollard occurred in the mid-1980s. Now, we’re talking about an event that was run by a rogue organization in the Israeli intelligence community. That was, what, 25 years ago?”

    On May 11, 1998, the government, then headed by Binyamin Netanyahu in his first term as Prime Minister, issued this statement: “Jonathan Pollard was an Israeli agent who was handled by high-ranking Israeli officials in an Israeli-authorized bureau – LAKAM. In light of this fact, the State of Israel acknowledges its obligation to Mr. Pollard and is ready to accept full responsibility accordingly.”

    Oren’s words are thus a direct contradiction of official Israeli policy.

    Mrs. Pollard said this morning, “I don’t know from where to draw strength to tell my husband that the country he so loves and for which he worked with such self-sacrifice is once again knifing him in the back.”

    Danny Naveh, a former Health Minister and the man who served as Cabinet Secretary when the above declaration was made, responded today to Oren’s words. “Pollard was handled as an official agent of the State of Israel,” said Naveh, who visited Pollard in prison the week the declaration was made to present him with the official decision. “It is hard to believe that after 25 years, he is still rotting in prison. The Prime Minister received, during his previous term in office, a promise from then-President Bill Clinton that Pollard would be freed; this was not a private promise made by a private individual, but a promise from the United States to Israel.”

    MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who has been outspoken on behalf of obtaining Pollard’s release, said, “The remarks by Ambassador Oren regarding Pollard are grave, and he must be taken to task for them. It is especially serious in light of the fact that he refuses to recognize his error and apologize.”

    Another Oren Gaffe

    Oren also added that Israel would “welcome Pollard’s release,” implying that the government was not actively seeking it.

    Pollard received Israeli citizenship more than two years before the “official agent” declaration, in January 1996.

    In October 1998, during the Wye Plantation talks, Clinton promised Netanyahu that he would free Pollard as part of the Wye agreement – but later reneged on his promise.

    The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home called on Netanyahu Tuesday to quickly clarify that Pollard is, in fact, an Israeli agent, and not as Oren mis-stated. “Netanyahu should also clarify that the State of Israel backs the words of American officials and civil rights organizations that have said that Pollard’s punishment is totally disproportionate to the punishments served by others, and that the time has come for his release.”

  9. I’m beyond disgusted. The situation will only change when Israelis elect true Zionists into power instead of selfish, greedy cowards.

    Kinda knocks the concept of pro Israel PR out of the ballpark.

  10. I’m beyond disgusted. The situation will only change when Israelis elect true Zionists into power instead of selfish, greedy cowards.

  11. Show you Yamit? You are laughable. It is impossible to show someone anything they refuse to see.

    Show me Narvey I’ll try real hard to see what you see. Try me!

    You are as willfully blind Yamit as those you and the rest of us take pains to denounce and express our frustrations with. Strange you have not yet begun to exhibit any signs of cognitive dissonance.

    Choose either; I am willfully blind or have cognitive dissonance. One voluntary and the other involuntary? Which will you be satisfied with?

  12. Show you Yamit? You are laughable. It is impossible to show someone anything they refuse to see. You are as willfully blind Yamit as those you and the rest of us take pains to denounce and express our frustrations with. Strange you have not yet begun to exhibit any signs of cognitive dissonance.

  13. Glick has come down hard on Netanyahu in this and many other articles.

    I said “Show me not tell me”

    If however, “coming down hard” means to you that she must agree with you and say that

    That would be a positive step in the right direction.

    No. But I might have missed something I mostly stopped reading her of late. SHOW ME!

    Your perspective however derives from the alternate universe you live in, which is neither shared by me nor the vast majority of others,

    What alternative Universe do you speak of? That it isn’t shared by you is not surprising, most anal retentive people have a difficult time with their sense of balance.

    Re: the vast majority of others show me your poll numbers counselor, you do have such a poll to make such a libelous statement, don’t you?

    including the majority of those who contribute to this blog.

    Ditto my previous statement. this should be easier for you to produce and prove.

    Even if you are correct that the majority don’t agree with my alternative universe opinions it does not make them right and me wrong. Since when is truth a democratic principle> When in all of history has any majority ever been proved right?

    I don’t mind you picking a fight Narvey but at least pick one over a principle you can defend and where I am so obviously wrong.

    You think I’m swayed by what others like you think? I am swayed by people I admire, respect and love all the rest can stuff it.

    You are so shallow Narvey grow up.

  14. It takes two (?seven) to do it:

    1. In Israel’s relationship to Obama, Barak has supplanted both Netanyahu and Lieberman. In addition to Defense Minister, he has also become the acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs at the same time.
    2. But this can happen only with the agreement of Netanyahu’s inner cabinet (the septet), which includes Barak and Lieberman.
    3. Lieberman is under investigation for corruption. He may well be guilty, and is being blackmailed by Netanyahu and Barak to go along with them without protest.
    4. With respect to Obama and Netanyahu, it is “pay attention to what I do, and ignore what I say”. Obama’s actions show him to be a clear Jew-hater determined to destroy Jewish Israel. Netanyahu’s heart appears to lie far more to the left than he is depicted. Just like Barak and Livni, he is always trying to appease Obama at Jewish Israel’s expense. It may well be that he does this because he wants to, not because he has to.

  15. Yamit, your near photographic memory does not seem to help your understanding of what you read and remember.

    Glick has come down hard on Netanyahu in this and many other articles.

    If however, “coming down hard” means to you that she must agree with you and say that

    BB should be put against a wall and shot for treason

    , then from your perspective, she never has come down hard on Netanyahu.

    Your perspective however derives from the alternate universe you live in, which is neither shared by me nor the vast majority of others, including the majority of those who contribute to this blog.

  16. Uncle and I admire all 150,000 and especially you for being vocal.

    Listen in most cases I do get her message. Just maybe I am not swift enough to understand. Everyday I learn something new and each day I find how little I really know about Israel. She believes she is fighting for Israel and I can’t fault her for that.

    What I do know and believe is Israel is our true, trusted friend and ally and I would shout that from the roof tops.

    I just hate to see a good friend being bombarded by world knuckleheads and anti-Semites for not one good reason and I trust God/G-d see that as well. (Just in case I remind Him daily)

  17. ron you confuse the person and her persona and profile with the message. According to you description, there are over 150,000 others here that can fit your idealized description. Me included.

    ron I could have stayed in the States and made a few mil. more than I made here? Who can say? I made my few mil here lost some and made it back, no big deal. I never felt deprived or lacking for anything by moving here. I wouldn’t change a second of my life and I’m sure most other like me feel the same.

    This country rocks on all 10 cylinders 24×7. There is so much energy it takes your breath away. We are the only people who know what her history (future) will be before it happens. We know the end and the end game but it must be played out using different scripts but each at the end finding the same destination.

    I wouldn’t want to say more of a personal nature as some might consider it too selfaggrandizing.

  18. ron you confuse the person and her persona and profile with the message. According to you description, there are over 150,000 others here that can fit your idealized description. Me included.

  19. Yes Sir

    I get the message.

    I still like her. I admire her for making aliyah to Israel, joining the IDF serving Israel. I guess she could have remained in the US and become a voice for Israel here. Having said that, I am sure it was more important to come home and be an Israeli.

  20. There are time when she came down on BB and on occasions have supported him.

    Show me where she ever came down hard on BB.

    I believe she has Israel at heart and cares. Maybe we can at least agree here.

    Who cares what she has at heart. This isn’t personal either her commentary is accurate and tue or it’s not. I say mostly not and I think I explained why not.
    What she is doing with Latma is a 1000 times better and more effective than all of the thousand Op ed’s she has written over the years.

    I have a near photographic memory and remember stuff she wrote ten years ago almost verbatim. Commentators rely on the public short attention span and even shorter memory.

    When I think she is wrong I say so.

  21. Uncle, I do like Caroline Glick and I am quite aware you are not crazy about her, or better still mostly not in agreement with her.

    I am stuck since I don’t understand the workings or politics of Israel.

    There are time when she came down on BB and on occasions have supported him.

    I believe she has Israel at heart and cares. Maybe we can at least agree here.

  22. Everything Glick says here so belatedly I have been saying for years ad-nausea.

    What bothers me is her willingness to absolve BB and place it all on Barak. Even if it were true BB should be put against a wall and shot for treason. He is most unworthy of the position of PM. I can’t be sure BB is not corrupted either. At this Point I assume they are all compromised.

    BB has a coalition option of an all right of center coalition that he doesn’t cave all the way to Obama could last for the duration even without kadima.

    Glick prefers Kadima which shows her true colors: BB at any price and blame everybody else for his weakness of Character and blind ambition for power. Must have been some romance between them.

    If this were happening to any other country I would be laughing. I can’t laugh.