Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman has announced he will sit only with a center-right coalition, virtually blowing apart the illusion promoted by the Labor-Livni party and establishment media that it can for a coalition government
Lieberman, who has become Israel’s most widely-known if not bizarre chameleon, previously has not ruled out sitting with a coalition headed by new Labor party, which merged with the party headed by Tzipi Livni and renamed itself the “Zionist Camp.”
All pre-election polls since the start of the campaign have shown that the party, co-headed by Yitzchak Herzog and Livni, has no chance of forming a coalition without the support of Yisrael Beiteinu, based on the false assumption that Lieberman would sit with the Haredi parties.
The concept is totally ridiculous, but even that hallucination came undone with Lieberman’s announcement Sunday that “Yisrael Beiteinu never will be part of a leftist government.”
Two weeks ago, he rejected sitting with a coalition that included the left-wing Meretz party, but he finally has realized that he is not the only one who understands that many of the Herzog-Livni candidates would be very comfortable in the Mertz party.
If the Labor-Livni slate of candidates had been a bit more normal and without the inclusion of potential Knesset Members who unabashedly favor a Palestinian Authority country based on all of its demands, perhaps Lieberman would have held his breath.
One of Labor’s top candidates for the Knesset is Stav Shaffir, who wants to get rid of HaTikvah as Israel’s national anthem because it is too Jewish for Arabs to love.
Another star in the Herzog-Livni camp is Merav Michaeli who has stated that no one should serve in the IDF because of the “occupation.”
Labor Party candidate Zuhair Bahloul maintains that his “Palestinian identity is stronger than [his] Israeli one.”
Lieberman’s party is down to four or five seats in polls, still enough for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to want to make part of the next government if the Likud takes charge after the elections in March.
The United Nations is at fault for failing to carry out its own resolution to disarm Hezbollah, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a phone call Sunday.
Resolution 1701 marked the end of the 34-day Second Lebanon War in 2006 and called on the United Nations to disarm “foreign armies” in Lebanon.
UNIFIL soldiers ignored the resolution from Day One, and Netanyahu raised the issue again Sunday while expressing sorrow for the death of a UNIFIL soldier by artillery fire from the IDF in response to the lethal Hezbollah attack last week that killed two Israeli soldiers.
Netanyahu also took the opportunity to point out that Hezbollah operates with Iran funding and policy direction and that Tehran is trying to escalate violence against Israel.
The Prime Minister’s accusation that UNIFIL is not “reporting on weapons smuggling into southern Lebanon” is nothing new, but the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights and planning attacks against Israel is unprecedented.
Last week’s firing of an anti-tank rocket on IDF vehicles was the most serious attack since the war in 2006. The war ended in a military stalemate, in itself a victory for Hezbollah, which also benefited from Resolution 1701 negotiated on the Israeli side by then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The United and UNIFIL immediately disclaimed any responsibility to disarm “foreign armies,” meaning Hezbollah, and tried to put the onus on Lebanon.
Government spokesman Mark Regev said at the time:
That resolution clearly calls for the creation of a Hezbollah-free zone south of the Litani River, and anything less would mean that the resolution is not being implemented.
Kofi Annan, who was Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2006, insisted, “The understanding was that it would be the Lebanese who would disarm [Hezbollah].”Obviously, if at some stage they need advice or some help from the international community and they were to approach us, we would consider it, but the troops are not going in there to disarm.”
A senior Lebanese official, Mohammed Chatah, said in 2006:
Hezbollah individuals are people who live in the south and they will not leave their homes and villages, but an armed Hezbollah will not be in the south, pursuant to Resolution 1701 that stated there will be “no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state.”
That also did not happen because Hezbollah held the cards in the Lebanese government, which it now dominates.
It was clear that the resolution would not be enforced, just like the cease-fire resolution after Operation Cast Lead in December 2008-January 2009 was not honored.
The same Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, negotiated both so-called cease-fires.
On Sunday, Feb. 1, the Likud party publicly charged that the U.S.-funded and organized political campaign effort known as V15 has inappropriate ties to the Labour-Livni and Meretz parties, as well as provided illicit funding under Israeli law.
They charged Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog with campaign law violations, specifically with accepting campaign funds made by non-Israelis.
The charges were made at a press conference held in Tel Aviv. David Shimron, an Israeli lawyer close to Prime Minister Netanyahu, discussed the petition Likud has filed with the Israeli Elections Committee, in which he is a petitioner.
Israeli law sets limits on donations which can only be made by Israelis, Shimron said.
The lawyer and the Likud members present spoke about V15’s funding from OneVoice, which in turn has received grants from British political parties, the European Commission and the U.S. State Department.
OneVoice’s primary donors are U.S. citizens. This may also be a violation of U.S. law, and certainly violates U.S. Internal Revenue Service guidelines: OneVoice is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
It was also revealed during the press conference that Zionist Union candidates Yoel Hasson and Danny Atar and former Labor MKs Ephraim Sneh, Colette Avital, and Rabbi Michael Melchior were on OneVoice’s advisory board, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“We urgently request the underlying data in order to understand the financial scope” of inappropriate activity, Shimron said.
“This is an attempt by leftist associations to steal power through foreign funds,” claimed Likud member Tzipi Hotoveli, who claimed that the links between V15 and the “Zionist Camp” party was a criminal matter.
“They are making use of radical left-wing organizations, like OneVoice and Molad, which receive millions of dollars from Europe, the U.S. and the New Israel Fund. We call on the chairman of the Central Elections Committee to issue an injunction immediately to prevent the continued activity of V15 and Project 61 and ensure the purity of this election,” a statement issued by Likud said.
Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said that Zionist Camp leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni “are waging a personal campaign of incitement against Netanyahu, at the risk of hurting Israel’s national interests.”
Supporters and members of V15 demonstrated outside of the building where the Likud held its press conference, claiming they have nothing to hide. They told Channel 2 News: “We are a movement founded by Israelis, and Americans.” They said they love Israel and “want to change the government.” They also claimed that their “funding sources are visible, exposed and appear on our site and given to reporters.”
However, the Israeli news site Globes responded to the transparency claim by noting that it had asked V15 for the names of its donors two weeks ago and the organization refused to provide them.
In response to the charges, the “Zionist Camp” members rattled off a list of Netanyahu related “scandals,” such as his association with Sheldon Adelson, Israel HaYom and the recycled bottles refund charge.
The oddest result of a month of polls is that there has been almost absolutely no change in the numbers.
The weekly Rafi Smith poll published Thursday night reveals that all parties are more or less stagnant and that national religious voters favoring the new Yachad party headed by Eli Yishai may be wasting their votes.
The new party has been on the edge of winning the minimum number of votes to enter the Knesset, but the Smith poll leaves Yachad under the radar. If polls in the next two weeks do not clearly show that the party has enough backing to win Knesset representation, voters are likely to abandon the sinking ship in favor of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.
Labor-Livni, running under the banner of the “Zionist Camp” party, would win 25 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today, according to the Smith survey. The number is unchanged from last week’s survey.
Similarly, the Likud party, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, would win 24 seats, followed by Bayit Yehudi with 16, one more than last week.
Next in line are Yesh Atid, whose chairman is Yair Lapid, with nine seats, and Shas, headed by Aryeh Deri with eight Knesset Members. Both parties’ support is unchanged from last week.
Kulanu (All of Us) headed by Moshe Kahlon won enough backing for eight seats, one less than last week.
Yehadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism), the Ashkenazi Haredi party, gained one seat and now has eight projected MKs. Both Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu lost one seat and are down to five,
The joint Arab list of parties won 12 seats, one more than in the previous poll.
The changes of one seat up or down are relatively insignificant given the margin of error in surveys.
Pollsters insist there is a large bloc of undecided voters, but if that is the case, they appear to be decidedly undecided.
No matter how you spin the numbers, the results still show that Labor-Livni, or the Zionist Camp if you prefer the official name, have no chance of forming a government.
One Jewish Press report last week suggested that the Arab parties are “natural partners” for a left-wing coalition and that even if they don’t join the coalition, they would give their support for it in critical votes. Arab parties never have agreed to be part of an Israeli government, and given the fact that several of the Arab MKs are blatantly pro-Palestinian Authority and openly against a Jewish State of Israel, they are not about to change the tradition.
However, it also is unlikely that Kulanu and Yesh Atid would accept demands of the Arab parties if push came to shove and Herzog and Livni were to propose a coalition needing support of Arab MKs.
No party has any momentum. The only likely changes in the strength of the left-wing or right-wing camp will come from lukewarm supporters of Kulanu and Yesh Lapid.
That leaves the undecided voters to make up their minds, and they have a little more than six weeks to do so.
Neither Hezbollah nor Israel will go to war right now. Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah now any more than it could in the war n 2006, which ended in a military stalemate but a strategic victory for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah won’t go to war against Israel because it cannot afford to lose its already questionable prestige in Lebanon due to the terrorist party’s having entered the conflagration in Syria and bringing it inside Lebanon’s borders.
Hezbollah’s attack in Israel yesterday was an eye-for-an-eye retaliation for Israel’s pre-emptive bombing raid in Syria two weeks ago in which a dozen Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers and commanders were wiped out.
Their plan to attack the Israeli side of the Golan Heights bore out fears that Hezbollah wants to be able to strike Israel along the entire northern border, from the Mediterranean Coast of Lebanon to the eastern side of the Golan Heights.
“Hezbollah” does not just mean the terrorist party and army. It also means “Iran,” its financial and military mother.
“Hezbollah” also means “Lebanon,” to a large extent. Hassan Nasrallah’s party dominates the government, but the world recognizes “Lebanon” and not “Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah, diplomatically, is a state within a state. It has one of the largest military arsenals of any army in the world, with 120,000 missiles in Lebanon, and now in Syria, poised to pulverize not only northern Israel but also Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
It is an act of war when a country’s army attacks another nation and kills two soldiers. “Restraint” is not the proper response. The proper response is an all-out retaliation to end the enemy threat.
But officially, neither Lebanon nor Iran attacked Israel yesterday. The provocateur was a terrorist army and party. Israel cannot wipe out the Hezbollah army because, like Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, it operates from within civilian population centers and now also is located in the maze of hell that is called Syria,” which no longer exists as a nation except in name.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said yesterday, “My recommendation to those who challenge us in the north is to take a look at what happened in Gaza.”
Hamas had several thousand rockets, some of them sophisticated, but Israel’s Iron Dome system was able to intercept most of them. In addition, the land mass of Hamas-controlled Gaza is all of 139 square miles (360 square kilometers), surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and an unfriendly Egypt and Israel on the south, west and north.
Lebanon is nearly 30 times larger with 4,015 square miles (10,400 sq km). Besides the Mediterranean Sea on the west and Israel on the south, Lebanon — and Hezbollah — have Syria for a neighbor in the east and north.
Netanyahu said, “The (Israel Defense Forces) is responding now to the incident in the north. The IDF stands ready to act forcefully on all fronts.” In truth, he was only reassuring Israelis and sending shivers down the spines of the West, but he and Hezbollah know very well that Israel is not going to “act forcefully on all fronts.”
Israel does not have an anti-missile system that can protect the country against 120,000 missiles, some of them very long-range rocket and probably with chemical warheads. The IDF indeed could crush Lebanon. It could punish the country for allowing and actively supporting Hezbollah.
Before doing so, who knows how much Hezbollah would cripple Israel with missiles.
But everyone, especially Netanyahu, knows that any large-military operation would leave Israel isolated in the world
The United States stated yesterday its usual wishy-washy position that backs Israel with a big “but”:
We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.
That was the same language used every time Hamas attacks Israel with a missile.
Any Israeli attack would be “disproportionate.” The international community does not apply the rules of war when it comes to Israel, which always must show it is so Christian that it can turn the other cheek and not use force.
As disgusting it sounds, the bitter truth is that Israeli won’t go to war over the deaths of two soldiers. It should but it won’t.
Israeli does not have the self-confidence, spiritually and diplomatically, to attack Hezbollah and Lebanon.
Nine years ago, Hezbollah kidnapped and murdered two soldiers and sparked a five-week war that proved that exposed, once again, Israel’s real weakness.
The Foreign Minister at the time was Tzipi Livni, who now threatens to become the next Prime Minister of Israel on a rotational basis with Labor party chairman Yitzchak Herzog.
Livni signed on the dotted line of United Nations Resolution 1701 that was a cease-fire version of the Oslo Accords. Instead of the Palestinian Authority, it was the United Nations that promised to disarm “foreign armies,” without naming Hezbollah.
The resolution stated:
Pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state.
The resolution called for:
Israel to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanon in parallel with Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers deploying throughout the South…
Disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon (implying but not stating Hezbollah)
No armed forces other than UNIFIL and Lebanese (implying Hezbollah and Israeli forces) will be south of the Litani River
No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government….
The importance of full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon .
Of course, Israel withdrew. Not only did UNIFIL not dis-arm Hezbollah, UNIFIL allowed it to continue to smuggle weapons from Iran, via Syria.
The resolution left Hezbollah ins a stronger than ever position and weakened Israel, which proved again its military may be strong but its backbone Is too weak to support a military victory to safeguard the country.
Below is a video of how Hezbollah terrorists escapes an Israel Air Force bombing of a missile launcher in the war in Lebanon in 2006.
Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni can’t catch a break.
The two thought they were being smart when they decided to change the name of the Labor party to “The Zionist Camp”, but Bayit Yehudi candidate Ronen Shoval filed an appeal on Thursday with the judge of Central Elections Committee claiming the party is misleading the public with false claims, and the evidence he brought were the anti/post-Zionist statements of the former Labor party’s own top candidates.
But that’s minor compared to the internal problems the Zionist Camp faces.
Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be rotating Prime Minister with Yitzchak Herzog after the March elections, said today she doesn’t want Jerusalem to be divided, but as for whether it will happen, she “hops not.”
She made the comment in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, in which said that dividing Jerusalem would be “part of the negotiations” with the Palestinian Authority.
Theoretically, she was being very honest since no one knows what will be tomorrow, let alone two months from now.
But that kind of intellectual honesty is not exactly what voters want to hear when it comes to knowing in whose to deliver the fate of Jerusalem, and of Israel.
“I hope not” is not going to convince anyone on the left or the right of Livni’s ability to stand up for what she thinks is right, unless the correct policy is to blow with the wind out of Ramallah.
Livni and Herzog suffer from an image of lack of strength, especially when it comes to security. That is Netanyahu’s ace in the hole.
But even worse for Herzog-Livni than the “I hope jot” position is the ridiculous notion of talking about “negotiations.”
Either Livni is parroting John Jerry or she really is out of the loop.
Palestinian Authority official “negotiator” said this week that relations with Israel have reached “the point of no return.”