13/02/2009

Israel, in a deadlock again

This week was marked by Tuesday Israeli elections. These have illustrated the stalemate witnessed by the Israeli political scene today. If Tzipi Livni has arithmetically won this election, she is unable, as a few months ago, to build any coalition. Therefore, all kinds of combinations are being imagined, even the possibility that would get together in the same government Livni, Lieberman, Barak and Netanyahu. That would mean a coalition between a so-called « dove », Minister of Foreign Affairs supported by the international community, who has paradoxically not hesitated to launch an unprecedented offensive on Gaza and a populist tribune, scored on the side of the « hawks » requesting the Israeli Arabs to take an oath of allegiance to get a complete citizenship and opposed to negotiations with Israel’s Arab neighbours. The Israeli political scene seems misleading and transformed not into a political arena where various views are discussed but rather into a contest between securitarian proposals.

Indeed, now that the Israeli left-wing has been buried, it is nothing more than competition between the right-wing and the extreme right, reducing the scope of political ideas. But the Labor Party is at the origin of Israel and brought with itself the founding values of the new State. Created in 1930 by David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, spearhead of the Zionist movement, the party led the country for three decades. Today, it only has 13 seats in the Knesset. How a State based on values and ideals close to socialism can be now a hostage of the right-wing and the extreme right? Have the founding fathers of Israel been betrayed?

More important is the impact this election will have on peace in the Middle East, which has already been given more than a rough ride this year. If Mr Abbas said that whatever the government will be, « pragmatism will dominate », he nevertheless called for a boycott of Likud. For their part, the Europeans have mostly expressed their preference for Tzipi Livni, seen as a « dove » against the « hawk » Netanyahu. However, history has taught us that peace is more likely to be done with hawks. Europe has probably forgotten that a Kadima government, despite its image as a moderate, has launched the offensive on Gaza, ending the current peace process.

The international context is now a token of appeasement in the Middle East thanks to a more nuanced American president. At the regional level, the Iraqi regime seems to recover in a context of successful elections, Syria is diplomatically back while the Iranian president seemed more open to talks. The future of the region is more than ever in the hands of the Israeli leaders.

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