Gaza Aftermath: The Return of Netanyahu?

I was recently interviewed by Javier Méndez Araya, journalist in El Mercurio newspaper in Santiago Chile about the potential for Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to the helm of Israel politics after the tragic and disastrous invasion of Gaza. Here are my answers to his questions.

Q. After the war in Gaza, do you think there is a chance that Netanyahu will be Prime Minister in Israel? Is it possible for Likud to win the next election in Israel?

A. Netanyahu’s chances have improved. Usually a war situation helps those already in power, but Olmert and Livni succeeded in none of the professed objectives of the invasion of Gaza. The electorate, still gripped by the frenzy of fear whipped up to justify the war effort, now seems to be demanding someone with a more hawkish reputation like Netanyahu or Avigdor Lieberman.

Q. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Netanyahu?

A. Netanyahu is a strong campaigner who has successfully used American election tactics to win Israeli elections in the past. However, he is an extremist who, once in power, will only take positions that will continue to jeopardize peace and therefore Israel’s security. His well-known ability to be convincing to American audiences only means that he will be able to effectively put obstacles in the way of President Obama’s professed intentions to seriously address the Palestinian/Israeli dispute.

3) What are platform planks of his Likud Party?

The Likud supports the illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, calls for undermining Palestinian civil society under the cover of security, restricting freedom of expression under cover of halting incitement, weapons collections that would leave an unarmed Palestinian population at the mercy of armed settlers, reducing the size of the Palestinian police, flat rejection of “a Palestinian Arab state West of the Jordan River,” flat rejection of abandonment of illegally occupied East Jerusalem, insistence on Israeli occupation of Palestine up to the Jordan River, and of the Golan. On the plus side Likud is willing to negotiate with Syria without preconditions.

4) Are there possibilities for a Netanyahu’s government to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians?

In their extreme desperation to maintain the grip on authority, the Fatah leadership will negotiate with anyone, even under such terms as Netanyahu might insist; but without including the party elected to lead Palestine, Hamas, any such negotiation would be a sham, without meaning or prospects for a lasting peace.

5) Will Netanyahu have a hard-line policy with Iran and Syria?

Netanyahu has made his hard line position on Iran abundantly and incontrovertibly clear. That he would also take a hard line stance on Syria should be inferred from his behavior after the Israeli air strike against Syria in 2007, when he brazenly flaunted censors to boast of the attack and to claim a role in it.

6) What is Netanyahu’s military history or record?

Like all Jewish citizens of Israel Netanyahu served in the military. He volunteered for service in an elite commando unit of the IDF. In contrast, Netanyahu’s nephew Jonathan Ben-Artzi is a conscientious objector who served over 200 days in a military prison for bravely refusing to enlist for mandatory service in the occupation army.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

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