“Sometimes a big shock is needed to cause people to take to the streets… The people cannot take it anymore.” – Tzipi Livni, former Kadima head (via Times of Israel)
ISRAELI POLITICS just exploded with the “atomic bomb” announcement by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who has canceled upcoming elections to form a unity government with Kadima, led by Shaul Mofaz.
From the editor in chief of Haaretz, Aluf Benn:
Now, Netanyahu is at his most comfortable. Instead of been dependant on the mood swings of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Likud’s right-wing representatives, he has a coalition with two wings, between which he can maneuver. At times he’ll break right, at others left, all according to the needs of the moment. He can throw a bone to Lieberman and then to Mofaz; build a settlement and evacuate illegal structures. At times he’ll indicate that war with Iran is near and at others he’ll give U.S. President Barack Obama’s diplomatic overtures a chance. No politician can dream up of a more perfect situation. – Formation of Israeli unity cabinet shows Netanyahu blinked first, again
From the Times of Israel:
People chanted: “The entire nation is the opposition,” “Bibi and Mofaz, go home,” and also, “Overturn the government.”
Others carried signs calling Netanyahu and Mofaz liars. Several people were arrested at the demonstrations in Tel Aviv.
Livni, who resigned from politics last week after Mofaz defeated her for the position of Kadima head, said: “Sometimes a big shock is needed to cause people to take to the streets… The people cannot take it anymore.”
Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni was among those who was asked to speak to the protesters, some of whom were arrested, because the police declared the gatherings illegal.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
“A major shift has happened in Israel’s government this night. Israel’s government is no longer a right-wing government,” says Amit Segal, a political commentator for Channel 2 news. “In the long term, it will enable Mr. Netanyahu to try to reach an agreement with the Palestinians without fearing the reaction of Mr. Lieberman or the right wingers of his party.”
Netanyahu’s big-tent government also gives him more political cover if he chooses to be more aggressive against Iran because of the presence of Mr. Mofaz, a former army chief of staff and former defense minister who has been critical of Israel’s stance on Iran, in the decisionmaking process, say analysts.
“A unity government reduces the likelihood of criticism of the government should an operation go wrong,” wrote Ron Ben Yishai, a military affairs columnist for Ynet.com news website. “It strengthens Israel’s deterrence and enhances its decisionmaking ability of the leaders on foreign policy and security issues, of which Iran is foremost.”
So far, reaction outside Israel is all over the map. But mostly people seem to be trying to figure out what Netanyahu is up to, because he most assuredly didn’t do this for grins. All signs pointed to Netanyahu winning the elections anyway.
Israeli analysts also suggested that Netanyahu backed down from elections now because he fears that the grassroots of his party has been overrun by Jewish settlers. The prime minister denied that suggestion. – Christian Science Monitor