January 08, 2006

Questions Re: a Post-Sharon Israel

1) Will Ehud Olmert have something of a so-called Truman moment, and bolstered by sympathy for the tragic denouement of Sharon's long career, help Kadima prevail in the March 28 elections?

2) If no, and Bibi Netanyahu prevails instead, will he end up tacking to the center (despite his carving out space to Sharon's right), and perhaps end up cutting some disengagement-style deal from large swaths of the West Bank (recall Hebron circa '96)?

3) Related to "2" above, and without mighty Sharon bulldozing ahead on possible Gaza withdrawal follow-through in the West Bank, will Condeleeza Rice and her team be able to effectively fill the void left by Sharon--so as to apply the requisite pressure on the parties post March elections to keep forward momentum in terms of helping along the quite moribund peace process?

4) Does Ehud Barak stand any chance of resucitating his political career, or has he been permanently discredited in the broad center of the Israeli body politic given his presiding over the failures of the much maligned Oslo (and various progeny) process?

5) Oh, and looking beyond this election, more towards the 2010s and beyond, does Tzipi Livni, the very talented Israeli Justice Minister, have the goods to become the next Golda Meir?

Meantime, despite all the questions above, it bears noting Sharon is fighting valiantly for survival. The latest here.


Posted by Gregory at January 8, 2006 07:13 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

How can Condi or anyone in the administration "fill the void"? Isreal is a sovereign country with its own political process. Or is it just some sort of way to assign blame to Bush for "lack of engagement" if things fall apart?

Shit happens; Sharon had a stroke at the most critical time in Isreal's history. What are we going to do? Answer: Improvise.

9/11 happened, and it was determined that Saddam would have to go ASAP. Well it didn't go as planned, but wars rarely do. Answer: Improvise. (That is when you try something and if that doesn't work you try something else.)

Posted by: Chuck Betz at January 9, 2006 12:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The answer to your first question is "No." Ehud Olmert is a competent administrator and politician, but, in this instance, he is out of his depth. Power devolved to Truman, but, in this instance, only the position has devolved to Ehud Olmert, and there is not enough time between now and the March 28th elections for him to change his position. Truman had until the 1948 election to test his power vis-a-vis Thomas E. Dewey.

As to your second question, Bibi will prevail, but he will not track to the center. To the contrary, "The center will not hold."

The answer to your third question is "No", Condeleeza Rice and her team be able to effectively fill the void left by Sharon. Unfortunately, this is a whole new ball game.

As to your fourth question, Ehud Barak, has seen the eternal footman hold his coat and snicker, and his political career is effectively over.

Your fifth question is your best question. It is, however, too soon to hazzard an answer. All that can be stated at this time is that she is going to be an important player in Israeli politics and the future of the middle east, but her future cannot, and should not, be limited as simply being "the next Golda Meir".

In the end, there will still be time for decisions and revisions, which a moment will erase.

Posted by: The Opinionated Pawn at January 9, 2006 02:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I expect Rice will do as she is told by which Israeli rises to the top. She lacks the imaginative acumen to concieve a peace here anyway. That is the way it has always been. The Israelis will finish their wall. The palestinians will move away or die.

Either that or there will be a war.

In either case, the White House has not displayed the kind of quick thinking that would put them in the game.

Posted by: exclab at January 9, 2006 03:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"9/11 happened, and it was determined that Saddam would have to go ASAP. Well it didn't go as planned, but wars rarely do. Answer: Improvise. (That is when you try something and if that doesn't work you try something else.)"

Posted by: Chuck Betz

Not quite correct, but a decent scrub job. A more accurate history would be: "9/11 happened, Bush & Co seized the opportunity to wage a war against a country with 'more good targets', to gain power. For some reason known only to God, the administration screwed it up, almost deliberately. People under the top improvised; Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield continued to lie and BS and let things go to h*ll."

Posted by: Barry at January 9, 2006 01:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even if enough votes shift back from Kadima to Likud to make the Likud the leading party, it still wont be easy for Bibi to form a coalition without Kadima. As it was Sharons coalition before Labour joined had a shaky majority, and keeping both Shinui (militantly secularist, pro free market, moderate on peace) and the religious parties in was a major headache. I cant beleive Likud will do as well under Bibi as it did under Sharon. That would be true even if Kadima didnt exist. And it does, and no way its going down to zero seats. So Likud cant form a coalition without Kadima. Then it gets down to what Olmert et all can bargain from Bibi, and if Bibi can get Kadima in while still keeping the far right in line.

Its also possible that Labour will get enough seats to lead a govt - though they will also need Kadima.

Posted by: liberalhawk at January 9, 2006 04:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even if enough votes shift back from Kadima to Likud to make the Likud the leading party, it still wont be easy for Bibi to form a coalition without Kadima. As it was Sharons coalition before Labour joined had a shaky majority, and keeping both Shinui (militantly secularist, pro free market, moderate on peace) and the religious parties in was a major headache. I cant beleive Likud will do as well under Bibi as it did under Sharon. That would be true even if Kadima didnt exist. And it does, and no way its going down to zero seats. So Likud cant form a coalition without Kadima. Then it gets down to what Olmert et all can bargain from Bibi, and if Bibi can get Kadima in while still keeping the far right in line.

Its also possible that Labour will get enough seats to lead a govt - though they will also need Kadima.

Posted by: liberalhawk at January 9, 2006 04:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1) Too early to tell, but it's certainly possible. Sharon's approach to the Palestinians was tremendously popular with the Israeli public, and as long as that public identifies Kadima with that approach, Kadima could do quite well.

2) I think Liberalhawk's comments are on target. Even assuming that Likud gets the most seats (a very big if), it probably won't be able to form a government without Kadima's support. That will naturally pull Netanyahu toward the center.

It's also possible that Likud (or Labor) will get the most seats, but Kadima will choose to form a coalition with the other party.

3) No clue about whether any short term progress is actually feasible, but there's no doubt that US policymakers including C Rice will politically constrain Netanyahu. It happened last time he was PM and it will happen this time.

4) Yes, it's possible that his career will revive. Whether he'll ever be PM again is uncertain, but at the very least Labor is interested in bringing him back into the fold.

5) Yes, it's possible. Time will tell.

Posted by: Guy at January 9, 2006 08:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If history is any guide, the Palestinian militants will attempt to exploit what they will see as a power vacuum. I am surprised that we haven't had an increase in suicide attacks, and rockets from Lebenon and Gaza, but my bet is that they will be coming. The response of the Isreali population will be to support the party that takes the hardest line against this sort of thing. I fully expect to see an increase in targeted killings, for example. Whatever party ends up in control will be much inclined to take a very hard line in order to consolidate support. The sad risk is that the opportunity for progress toward resolution of this mess will be lost in the process. I don't think anything the American adiministration can do will have much effect in the short run measured in a year or two. In the meanwhile, with Sharon effectively out of the picture, opportunites are presented for the emergence of younger politicians who, perhaps, with time, will be able to carry out the vision that Sharon has had. One thing is for sure, the Palestinians have lost another opportunity as they have so many times.

Michael

Posted by: Michael Pecherer at January 9, 2006 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I donít think he has ever cared about civil liberties Ė he sees his job as protecting us, not protecting our liberties.

Posted by: Gabe at January 10, 2006 03:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Now that Ariel Sharon is out of politics for good, whether he dies or not, I do think that Kadima can carry on regardless of his departure, and I can even see some people voting for the party to continue the work of Sharon and to give him the legacy which he will not be able to complete himself.

I think Ehud Barak's career is firmly over, and this was shown by the lack of support he could muster for the Labor Party primaries last year.

The US certainly will have to play a role in any future peace deal. However, it must ensure that it is an honest broker, and not have the blatant pro-Israeli bias it had at Camp David in 2000.

Posted by: Lewis at January 11, 2006 11:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The US certainly will have to play a role in any future peace deal. However, it must ensure that it is an honest broker, and not have the blatant pro-Israeli bias it had at Camp David in 2000."

LOL! Good one!

And we'll be using flying pigs as diplomats, too.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 16, 2006 03:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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