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The super hawks
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 10 - 2012

IN the deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu, Likud could control more than 40 parliamentary seats, making it roughly twice as large as Labor, its nearest rival. It is so strong that Netanyahu will not only win the election, which is scheduled for Jan. 22, he will do so in style and could bury Labor, perhaps for years to come. Under the ground might also go the moderate camp and the peace process in its entirety.
The very foundation of the Lieberman-Netanyahu ticket screams extremism and opposition to peace. This hybrid bloc will not be known for anything else except never to have made peace with the Palestinians. It's bad enough that Lieberman is in the center of this alliance. He is as strong an opponent as they come when dealing with the Palestinians, and his extremist positions are legendary. He has called for executing Israeli-Arab lawmakers who have met with leaders of Hamas; asked for a law demanding that Israeli-Arabs pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state; attempted to require Israelis to sign a loyalty oath or have their citizenship revoked; expressed skepticism over the chances of reaching peace with the Palestinians; called the Palestinian president an “obstacle to peace,” and urged his removal.
This is Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right extremist who has promoted legislation that targets liberal causes such as human rights groups, and this is the ultranationalist who will in a few months be empowered with a major say in any future peace efforts.
The big question is whether in the new cabinet Lieberman will be defense minister, deputy prime minister or remain foreign minister. Whatever post he holds, the decision to join forces with Lieberman will raise questions about whether Netanyahu is still committed to the peace process. The answer is plain: the peace process collapsed in 2008 because of illegal Jewish settlements that Netanyahu continues to give a green light to. On Netanyahu's watch, that light never turns red.
The new year will bring scant good news for Palestinians. Along with Israel's new super hawks are the other parties concerned. The US will have voted in either the incumbent Obama who sometimes looks like he wants to help the Palestinians but does not have the backbone to challenge Netanyahu, or Mitt Romney, who acts more Israeli than an Israeli.
There is a possibility that the Netanyahu-Lieberman alliance could backfire. Opposition parties would be reenergized by this tack toward the Lieberman camp. At the same time, the new alliance which creates an extremist party opposed to peace would alienate many moderate voters.
Still, a merger is in place that could make Netanyahu leader of one of the largest factions the Israeli parliament has seen in decades. Likud currently has 27 seats in the 120-member parliament while Yisrael Beitenu has 15 seats for a hefty total of 42.
Netanyahu appears well on his way to winning a third term as premier, after which he will make sure that his office never gives the Palestinians the time of day.


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