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Week in review: Israel turns far right

Posted by Folco Zaffalon su 3 aprile, 2009

The National

Paul Woodward, Online Correspondent

  • Last Updated: April 03. 2009 10:08AM UAE / April 3. 2009 6:08AM GMT

“Those who want peace should prepare for war,” said Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, confirming the fears of those who anticipate that Israel’s new government is going to assume a belligerent and aggressive posture.

The ultra-nationalist minister’s remarks came just a day after Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was reported to have said that if President Obama does not halt Iran’s nuclear programme then Israel will.

“Those who think that through concessions they will gain respect and peace are wrong,” the new minister said during a changing of the guard ceremony at the foreign ministry. “It’s the other way around; it will lead to more wars.”

Following his speech, the outgoing foreign minister Tzipi Livni who had rejected Mr Netanyahu’s overtures to join the Likud coalition whispered in Mr Lieberman’s ear: “I became convinced that I was wise not to join the government.”

Mr Lieberman also rejected the 2007 Annapolis agreement, viewed by many as a faltering effort by the Bush administration to revive a neglected peace process.

“There is one document that obligates us – and that’s not the Annapolis conference, it has no validity,” Mr Lieberman said. “The Israeli government never ratified Annapolis, nor did Knesset.”

The Wall Street Journal said: “An Israeli foreign ministry official said he believed the Obama administration was uninterested in reviving the Annapolis agreement, which is closely associated with the Bush administration’s failed peace efforts.

“Neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have raised Annapolis in conversations with the Israelis, the official said.

” ‘Lieberman put it in a very brutal manner so Obama may not like it,’ said the official. ‘But I think basically Annapolis is not their baby and they are looking to create another framework for negotiations.’

“Annapolis’s chief legacy has been to enshrine the two state solution as the mutually agreed upon desired outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also marked a reversal of the policy laid out in the Road Map, by no longer requiring Palestinians to meet conditions before entering final status negotiations to create a Palestinian state. Mr Lieberman’s statement has been interpreted as an early rejection of those two ideas.”

While Mr Netanyahu’s coalition won Knesset approval with an impressive 69 votes in favour and 45 opposed, that level of support is not matched in public opinion. A Haaretz poll indicated the 54 per cent of Israelis were already unhappy with their new government and in particular its bloated cabinet. But with too many cabinet members to be seated around the existing cabinet table, Mr Lieberman is making sure that his own power avoids being diluted.

In coalition talks, at the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman’s insistence, Mr Netanyahu agreed that his inner security cabinet would be limited to four members: Mr Lieberman, defence minister Ehud Barak and two others chosen by the prime minister. A later effort to resolve power struggles within his own party led Mr Netanyahu to expand his kitchen cabinet but Mr Lieberman held fast to the original agreement.

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic, Mr Netanyahu challenged President Obama. “The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – and quickly – or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.

” ‘The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,’ Netanyahu told me. He said the Iranian nuclear challenge represents a ‘hinge of history’ and added that ‘Western civilization’ will have failed if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.”

As for Mr Netanyahu, he would appear to have only one great mission: preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. This fixation appears to be reflected in his choice for finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, a close ally with little economic experience.

“Steinitz, a 51-year-old former philosophy professor, has made a name for himself as an expert in security and defense issues since entering the political arena a decade ago. But he lacks deep experience in economics and business at a time when Israel is facing the worst economic downturn in its history,” BusinessWeek reports.

” ‘One of the greatest challenges facing us is dealing with the economic crisis, and we will do so with intelligence and perseverance,’ Steinitz said after his appointment was officially announced early on Mar 31. The new finance minister stressed that he would be working very closely with Netanyahu.

“Few doubt, though, that the prime minister will be calling the shots when it comes to the economy. ‘Netanyahu will be running the show, at least at the outset, as it will take Steinitz time to grow into the job,’ says a businessman and close adviser to the new prime minister who spoke on condition of anonymity. The adviser notes that some of the country’s most successful previous finance ministers also have had little experience in economics, citing the likes of President Shimon Peres and former finance minister Moshe Nissim.

“But the severity of the global financial crisis and its devastating impact on the local economy have led to sharp criticism of the appointment. ‘Is this the kind of person we need as our finance minister at a time of such an unprecedented economic crisis?’ asked former finance minister Avraham Shohat, who served under former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Peres.”

How high economic worries figure in the minds of most Israelis may depend on how close another war looms.

In Haaretz, Aluf Benn writes: ” ‘I promise that if I am elected, Iran will not acquire nuclear arms, and this implies everything necessary to carry this out,’ Benjamin Netanyahu said before the elections. In other speeches Netanyahu described Iran’s nuclear programme as ‘an existential threat for Israel,’ and warned that it risked a second Holocaust. Does his return as prime minister necessarily bring Israel nearer to war with Iran?

“In political circles the view is that yes, Netanyahu as prime minister brings Israel closer to war with Iran. Politicians in touch with Netanyahu say he has already made up his mind to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations. People close to him wonder how the public would receive a joint decision by Netanyahu and Ehud Barak to attack Iran, and whether the move would boost the two men’s popularity. The basic assumption is that diplomacy and sanctions will not gain a thing, and the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear program will be by force, which only Israel is motivated to apply.

“This is also the assessment of the international media, who consider an Israeli strike against Iran a near certainty. European governments are practicing evacuating their citizens from Iran in case a ‘third party’ strikes the nuclear installations. Israel’s veiled threats ‘that no option should be lifted from the table,’ which were meant to push the international community to intensify pressure and sanctions on Iran to prevent war, have had the opposite effect. The international community has become convinced that Israel will act on its own, so it does not need to do a thing.”

pwoodward@thenational.ae

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090403/GLOBALBRIEFING/904702244/1011

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Una Risposta to “Week in review: Israel turns far right”

  1. Folco Zaffalon said

    utile carrellata di alcuni giornali internazionali sulle dichiarazioni della settimana

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