A very small step, such large consequences

In Israel, the latest political facts described by the press have shown the weakness of government training establishment in March by Benjamin Netanyahu. The weak point, however, did not present itself where it was expected, ie between the Likud and the Labor Party, but within the Likud.

This week Obama praised Israel for « the step in the right direction » following Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision on the settlements. The latter said that no new tender would be issued by the Government by 2010, indicating nevertheless that the current tenders and the one issued by the private sector would not be affected by this measure. This step, even small, managed to put the Prime Minister in trouble in his own party. The real blow came from the Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Well known to be close to Netanyahu, the latter attended a political meeting of the extreme right wing of the party and declared that Israel should not take U.S. pressure into account.

The eyes now all turn to the Prime Minister, who had to come back prematurely from holidays to manage this crisis. This statement by his Minister on strategic issues put Netanyahu in a difficult position on the one hand within his own government, on the other on the international scene. Moshe Ya’alon seems to want to join the far right. By these reactions, he hopes maybe to provoke the ire of Ehud Barak, and therefore the Labor party’s withdrawal from the government. The Deputy Prime Minister could then take over the leadership of Defense, or even the function of Prime Minister. An ambitious maneuver, but that may also exacerbate the existing crisis between Israel and its historical ally, the United States.

Six months after the elections, the ruling coalition already appears to be splitting. Netanyahu is between a rock and a hard place because each sign of good faith shown to the United States, however small, seems to deeply undermine the foundations of his government. The argument of lack of a valid Palestinian interlocutor is often used by Israel, but this time it may be returned. It is difficult to imagine that a real peace process can be initiated with this government in power.


Nathalie Janne d’Othée