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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Bogeyman?

I was going to ignore this article in today's JPost, which features a slew of (mostly left-leaning) American Jewish leaders saying how Avigdor Lieberman's presence in the government will hurt Israel until I saw this statement about three quarters of the way down the page.
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told The Jerusalem Post last week that Lieberman's "image is so tarnished, it wouldn't be good for Israel" to have him in a prominent leadership position.
Ouch. Mort Klein has pretty solid right wing credentials! The only 'leaders' who were willing to go on record as saying Lieberman wasn't so bad were only willing to do so anonymously:
But one Jewish organizational leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, made the case that Lieberman was actually less "radioactive" than Ariel Sharon, who was held responsible for 1982's Sabra and Shatila massacre, once was in international circles, yet the latter successfully rehabilitated his image.

He also pointed out that Lieberman has served in the government already, joining Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima-led coalition in 2006 before quitting last year over peace talks.


Another American Jewish official, also speaking anonymously, pointed out that there were some positive areas for cooperation between Lieberman and American groups, since Israel Beiteinu staunchly favored civil marriage, which would break the Orthodox monopoly on marriage in Israel and which many Reform and Conservative American Jews support.

"On the positive side, [Shas] Rabbi Ovadia Yosef called him Satan, because he's a supporter of civil marriage," he said, "so there are some church-state issues that many American liberal Jews would find some synergy with."
Read the whole thing (the second screen is actually more interesting than the first).

Here are my bets:

1. The only way Kadima won't be in the coalition is if Tzipi Livni absolutely insists on a 'rotation' (Livni being Prime Minister for the entire term is out of the question) between herself and Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

2. If Bibi can bring Labor into the coalition and stop there, he will do that. Given the rumblings against Ehud Barak from within his own party, however, that may no longer be possible.

3. If Bibi manages to bring in Kadima but not Labor, look for him to try Shas as the third partner in the coalition. Likud (27) plus Kadima (28) plus Shas (11) equals 66. In that case, he may also try to bring in United Torah Judaism (5) and Jewish Home (3) for good measure. Bringing in Shas (and United Torah Judaism) will mean giving up on the civil marriage part of the 'agenda,' but the Likud has a lot of traditional voters who wouldn't be big on that anyway. UTJ and Jewish Home will not have big ministry demands (UTJ never takes ministries - only Knesset committee chairmanships), and Shas will want ministries that don't really interest Likud and Kadima anyway (with the exception of the Education ministry - Shas would probably get a Deputy Minister there who would be in charge of Haredi education).

4. The only way Yisrael Beiteinu will be in the coalition is if Kadima is not in the coalition. That's why Lieberman has been playing his cards so close to the vest about whom he will recommend to the President to form the next government. He knows that both Bibi and Tzipi don't want him in the government. My guess is that he will recommend no one and hope that Bibi and Tzipi can't agree on who will be Prime Minister.


At 2:54 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

My guess is if there is a coalition between Kadima and Likud, Kadima will get Justice and Foreign Affairs. The Likud will control Finance and Defense but may opt to hold the Defense portfolio open to tempt Ehud Barak to stay. The only way a shrunken Labor goes into opposition is if Kadima does. So if the national unity negotiations do go somewhere, expect Labor to join and Israel Beiteinu will probably support the government from the outside on selected issues.

If that doesn't materialize, then it will be a government of the Right and Boogie Yaalon will probably become Defense Minister. Seriously though, the two big factions for different reasons at this point want a shotgun marriage and I wouldn't be surprised if a framework was agreed on over the next few days.

Stay tuned.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Here's my two cents: Livni chooses to sit this one out in the opposition, in the hope that the Right discredits itself.

Coalition will be Likud-Israel Beiteinu-Shas and the smaller nationalist/religious parties, about 65 seats.

Labor is done, unless it gets rid of Barak. Kadima will need to find some real leadership, in place in Livni. We'll see elections in about 3 years, when Netanyahu's gov't breaks up on some trivial vote.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger LB said...

If Livni's smart she'll forgo this whole charade and sit this one out. She'll disappear if backs up Bibi.

Lieberman will probably get stronger no matter what happens. He's been playing the politics far better than anyone else.


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