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Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is it with the right-wing government?

During the early 1980s, after Prime Minister Menachem Begin from the Likud Party signed the peace agreement with Egypt and gave up the Sinai Peninsula, a period of political stalemate became the right-wing government motto. The inability to negotiate with the Palestinians led to the First Lebanon War in 1982 and later to the worst economic meltdown in the history of Israel - the 1985 banking crisis and a lost decade of economic growth.

At the beginning of the 1990, the Likud broke away from the National Unity Government (or Alignment) with the Labor and embarked on a policy that rejected any peace initiative with the Palestinians. As a result, Israel experienced cooling in the relations with the Bush I-Baker administration, the first Intifada, and a recession, until Rabin won the elections in1992 and changed direction with the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Between 1996 and 1999, the first Netanyahu government promised to embrace the commitments Israel has made in previous agreements, but three years later the peace process was in shambles and Israel’s diplomatic relations with many countries were again falling apart.

This trend changed once again after Netanyahu’s government collapsed and Barak of the Labor Party won the elections in 1999.

In 2003 Arik Sharon won the elections for the second time in three years. He doubled the size of the Likud Party to 30 seats in the Knesset (out of 120) and established a right wing government. Yet, in spite of his powerful position, he was unable to get a majority inside his own party to accept his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. This plan called for the eviction of a few thousands Jews who were living in the midst of a million and a half Palestinians on one of the most densely populated pieces of land on this planet. Only after Sharon dismantled the Likud Party and took 15 Knesset Members with him to establish his own Party, Kadima, was he able to accomplish a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. As usual, all the right wing parties, including the Likud and Netanyahu, stood and are still standing united against Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza.

Nowadays, Netanyahu’s second government, elected in 2009, is repeating the same patterns. After a year full of promises, declarations, and a temporary freeze on building settlements in the West Bank, the usual feet dragging and new demands and conditions for this or that point have brought upon us another stalemate.

Unfortunately for Israel, this time the Palestinians chose to stay away from violence and play the political field: asking for a UN resolution that will recognize the state of Palestine. But as we have seen in the past, there is no chance that a right-wing government would enter any negotiations that could result in territorial concessions to the Palestinians. It has not happened in the past, and it is not going to happen now. Furthermore, any attempt to make changes in the current coalition by Netanyahu is not realistic, because in order to take this radical step Netanyahu has to be Arik Sharon and this is far beyond his qualifications. Therefore, the future scenario is very clear: deterioration in the relations with the regional players, international isolation, economic siege, and erosion in Israel’s security and ability to respond to provocations.

So why do Israel’s right-wing governments keep repeating the same old pattern over and over again?

Just like the scorpion in the famous fable, who catches a ride on the back of a frog in order to cross the river, but in the middle of the river stings the frog and ends up drowning… because it can’t help it, it is in his “nature,” so do Israeli right-wing governments keep bringing Israel to the edge of the cliff, because, as we say, it is in their “nature.”

To be continued…

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