" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Whither Iran after the Likud-Kadima Union?

netanyahu-mofaz.jpg

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to absorb the opposition Kadima Party into a gargantuan ruling coalition was probably not about foreign policy. With a growing rift between Israel’s secular and religious communities, the contentious issue of military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox students was already threatening Netanyahu’s conservative coalition. Instead of constantly covering his right flank, frequently under assault from his natural yet troublesome religious and nationalist allies, Netanyahu could have just as easily called new elections and strengthened the position of his own Likud Party, which was likely to gain seats.

 

Instead, in a political masterstroke that has impressed the prime minister’s critics and admirers alike, Netanyahu reached out to the centrist Kadima Party—composed largely of former Likudniks—and captured a parliamentary supermajority of 94 seats in the 120-seat body. In the process, the conservative leader cemented his grip on power and neutralized the right-wing gadflies that were poised to bring down his government.

 

The move does more to ensure Netanyahu’s continued survival as prime minister than anything else. But given the prominent role Netanyahu’s right-wing cabinet—particularly the settler bloc—has ostensibly played in staying the prime minister’s hand on the Palestinian peace process, the new arrangement should give Netanyahu plenty of political space to chart a more moderate course with respect to the Palestinians, should he be so inclined.

 

The neoconservative right in the United Statesseems unconcerned by Bibi’s gambit. Netanyahu and his partners, writes Jonathan Tobin at Commentary, “have much more in common on the question of dealing with the Palestinians than they differ. All support in principle a two-state solution and all understand that the only real obstacle to such a deal is the Palestinian refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.” Tobin also took the opportunity to “remind liberal American critics of Netanyahu just how far out of step they are with political reality in Israel.”

 

The move could also give Netanyahu a freer hand to launch a strike against Iran. However dimly his right-wing coalition partners may have regarded the Palestinians, they remained skeptical about an Israeli war with the Islamic Republic. His new partners may prove more easily persuaded.

 

On the one hand, notes J.J. Goldberg at the Forward, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz has taken a more cautious line on Iranthan Netanyahu, deferring to former intelligence officials like Meir Dagan who oppose a unilateral Israeli strike. On the other, according to one Israeli military commentator, Netanyahu “can do whatever he wants. He just has to convince Mofaz to agree with him.” Jeffrey Golderg (who argues that the left “doesn’t matter very much in Israel these days”) noted that Netanyahu “would want to lead as broad a coalition as possible should the Iran issue come to a head,” adding that Netanyahu would no longer be pressured to launch an attack on Iran in the interim between an Israeli election in September and the U.S. election in November.

 

The new coalition also preserves the role of the unpopular defense minister Ehud Barak, a stringent Iran hawk who has slowly nudged Netanyahu into the hawkish camp. Unlike the most militant anti-Palestinian elements of Netanyahu’s cabinet, the most fervid anti-Iranian elements are staying on.

 

It remains to be seen whether Netanyahu will leverage his supermajority toward an ambitious policy agenda or simply toward his own political survival. But whatever he decides to do, he appears to have created sufficient political space to accomplish it comfortably. When it comes to Palestine and Iran, two issues of tension between Washington and Jerusalem on which Netanyahu has hidden behind his coalition, Washington should take note: they are negotiating with a man who controls his own political destiny. And they should hold him accountable for it.

 

—Peter Certo

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Michael Flynn–a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who fears Muslims, wants war with Iran, is regarded as “unhinged” by military colleagues, and likes to cozy up to Vladimir Putin–was selected to be National Security Advisor in the Trump White House.


Michael Ledeen, a “Freedom Scholar” at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has long been obsessed with getting the U.S. to force regime change in Tehran.


The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, is a militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Donald Trump calls Mitt Romney a “choke artist.” Romney calls Trump a threat to “a safe and prosperous future.” But the two are reportedly discussing the possibility of making Romney secretary of state. While he is arguably a safer choice then John Bolton or Rudolf Giuliani, Romney nevertheless has supported aggressive U.S. overseas intervention and sought advice from “pro-Israel” hardliners who would like nothing more than to see the Iran nuclear agreement fail.


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is one the Senate’s more ardent supporters of militaristic U.S. foreign policies.


Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy, is a longtime advocate of aggressive U.S. foreign policies, bloated military budgets, and confrontation with the Islamic world.


Clare Lopez is a former CIA officer and rightwing activist who has argued that the Muslim Brotherhood and a shadowy “Iran Lobby” are working to shape Obama administration policy.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Trump: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done. OK, look at the job they’ve done. They haven’t done the job.”


Trump’s deputy national security advisor Kathleen McFarland has a history of making wildly conspiratorial claims about China leveraging its holdings of U.S. debt to demand the elimination of Fourth of July celebrations and casually joking about nuclear winter as a solution to global warming.


Thus far, signs indicate that Donald Trump will continue to ensure that the United States plays the dominant role in policing the world.


The Iran deal is beneficial to Israeli security. Without an Iranian nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have no incentive to obtain nuclear weapons, thus preventing a domino scenario. The deal also closed off the chapter of pre-emption strikes scenarios on Iran’s military targets and reduced the risks for a new and long regional war. All of this could be threatened by the Trump administration.


People are attaining positions of power under Trump not because of perspicacity and temperament but because they were not sufficiently outraged during the campaign to exile themselves from Trumpland.


Little attention has been paid to the roll of Trump’s national security adviser in a small drone company that has received Pentagon contracts after he joined the company in April, while he was simultaneously serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign. If Trump follows through on his campaign promise to deploy more surveillance drones on the Canadian and Mexican borders, the company would be well-placed to win even bigger contracts.


As Donald Trump’s national security team begins to take shape, it’s becoming clear that Trump indeed has a “basket of deplorables” around him. And many of them are going to wind up serving in his administration.


RightWeb
share