Thursday, February 12, 2009

Likud + Kadima + YB = A government

Thursday -- National Unity


The rocket Hamas fired into the western Negev on Wednesday morning was an
explosive reminder that while Israel is bogged down in post-election
befuddlement, its foreign and security agenda can¹t be put on hold.

The issue of a tolerable Gaza cease-fire deal that would not leave Israel
worse off than it is today, but would free Gilad Schalit, remains
unresolved. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is reportedly trying to make a
surrender to Hamas¹s long-standing demand ­ 1,000 prisoners as ransom for
our soldier ­ less repulsive by excluding four uniquely monstrous terrorists
from the arrangement.

Egypt is mobilizing to reconcile Hamas with Fatah and help them establish a
united front. Jerusalem will need a coherent policy toward a Palestinian
unity government.

Mahmoud Abbas has been diligently working to have the International Court of
Justice in The Hague indict Israel for war crimes over Operation Cast Lead.
In the topsy-turvy world of what nowadays passes for international law, such
PLO lobbying is a real threat. We need a government that can credibly warn
Abbas that his continued demonization of Israel will have consequences.


Over at the UN, where, to paraphrase George Orwell, the clock is always
striking thirteen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has established a committee
to ³investigate² Israel¹s culpability in defending itself against Hamas
violence emanating from the Strip. Israel needs an assertive, eloquent UN
ambassador who can speak truth to inanity.

Israel also needs a no-nonsense defense minister to keep an eye on
Hizbullah-dominated Lebanon ­ where there are now more missiles aimed at our
North than before the Second Lebanon War ­ and on Hassan Nasrallah who,
still in his bunker, threatens a mega-terrorist attack to ³avenge² the
slaying of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh.


Israel¹s biggest challenge is in Teheran, where President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad told an enormous crowd celebrating the 30th anniversary of the
Shah¹s overthrow that he was open to overtures from the new US
administration so long as President Barack Obama had no ulterior motives.
Ahmadinejad¹s party was spoiled by reports suggesting that Iran was short of
³yellow cake² ­ raw uranium for its nuclear weapons program.


The American Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, has taken
the ³pulse² of the relevant parties. Back in 2000, Mitchell wrote that he
does ³not in any way equate Palestinian terrorism with Israeli settlement
activity.²


Now Israel needs a strong government that can relate effectively, and
respond constructively, to the administration¹s efforts to broker a deal
with the Palestinian Arabs.


ISRAEL does not have the luxury of squandering precious time on coalition
bargaining. The existential threat posed by Iran, as well as lesser ­ by
comparison ­ security and foreign policy challenges, combined with the need
to competently address the local impact of the global economic crisis,
demands leadership of the highest caliber.


Tuesday¹s elections gave Kadima 29 mandates and Likud 28 (the balance of
power can still shift once all the ballots are counted). It is clear to us
that the two winners need to join forces in a national unity government.
Together with Israel Beiteinu¹s 15 mandates they can effortlessly and
expeditiously form a ruling coalition and get down to the business of
governing.


As the Likud¹s Bennie Begin argues, the differences between Kadima, Israel
Beiteinu and Likud regarding the endgame of negotiations with the
Palestinians are purely theoretical.


Given that the ³moderate² Mahmoud Abbas could not, or would not, cut a deal
with Ehud Olmert, notwithstanding the latter¹s generosity of spirit (and
desperation to end his tenure on a high note), it is self-evident that, for
now, Jerusalem has no partner for peace.


National unity is essential. Netanyahu could form a short-lived, narrow
right-wing government (with 64 seats), while Livni does not appear to have
an option of heading a government without the Likud. The Jerusalem Post,
consequently, favors Netanyahu for prime minister and Livni in the role of
vice premier and acting prime minister. Avigdor Lieberman could play a
constructive role as minister of the interior and member of the security
cabinet.


Admittedly, such a scenario requires Livni and Lieberman to put country
first. But given the Jewish state¹s need for four years of stable government
under capable stewardship, this is not too much to ask.

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