Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is Isreal Hitting Pause?

Cracks widen in Netanyahu’s coalition.

Peter Beaumont

Israel’s coalition government, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, appears to be in danger of fracturing over the gridlocked peace process and a controversial “loyalty law”.
As Israel announced the building of 238 more housing units in annexed East Jerusalem, further complicating US efforts to revive stalled peace negotiations, it emerged that Ehud Barak, the Labour leader, is predicting that the government will collapse.

The party’s social affairs minister, Isaac Herzog, has also been threatening to quit unless direct talks with the Palestinians are reopened by the end of this month.

Although the two areas where new building has been announced were not part of the 10-month freeze on building in the West Bank, which recently expired, Israeli building in neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem – which Palestinians want to be the capital of a future state – is deeply controversial.
The stability of Netanyahu’s government is being threatened on two fronts. Its right opposes any extension to the building moratorium. And Labour may pull out unless there is progress in the peace talks – unlikely if the moratorium is broken.


Talk about the glass being half full or empty. A Labour pull out would put an end to Netanyahu’s bad faith “negotiations,” opening up the possibility that a more flexible Israeli government may be formed. On the other hand if Netanyahu’s government gets tossed into the dust bin of history, everything will be on hold until the chaos of Israeli politics works its way out.

Israel may be saddled yet again with a (dis)unity government that joins Likud with one of its political mortal enemies. The Peace Process will drift rudderless because there will be no Israeli government with the chops to negotiate.

The only winner in such a scenario would be the Obama Administration; it will then have lots of cover for its incompetent handling of Middle East diplomacy. They can do absolutely nothing and have a great excuse for being indolent.
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