Right Wing Sweeps Israel; Racialist Avigdor Lieberman Kingmaker Two State Solution Dead, Challenge to Obama

The outcome of the Israeli election has sounded the death knell for the two-state solution. There are not 61 votes for it in the new Knesset of 120 seats. A good 64 of the just-elected and/or re-elected Members of Parliament favor accelerated Israeli colonization of the West Bank and oppose Palestinian statehood. Most militant of all is Avigdor Lieberman, a former bouncer from Moldova who has risen in Israeli politics on a platform of racial hatred for Israeli-Palestinians (20% of the population), whom he has urged be “executed” or made to take loyalty oaths, stripped of their citizenship and possibly transferred to the Palestine Authority.

With Lieberman emerging as kingmaker in the new government, logically speaking, there are only three other plausible future relationships of Israel and the Palestinians:

1. Apartheid, with Israeli citizens dominating stateless Palestinians and controlling their borders, land, water and air. Apartheid would be accelerated under Lieberman’s baleful influence. Over time, this outcome would break down, since it will be unacceptable to the rest of the world over the coming decades).

2. Expulsion. The Israelis could try to violently expel the Palestinians (and possibly Israeli-Palestinians as well), creating a massive new wave of refugees in Jordan or Egypt’s Sinai. (This option would almost certainly end the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and might well push the Arab states into the arms of Iran, creating a powerful anti-Israel military coalition and a huge set of threats to the United States.)

3. One State. The Israelis could be forced over time, by economic and technological boycotts, to grant citizenship to the Palestinians of the occupied territories.

Some Neoconservatives have proposed that Jordan could take back part of the West Bank and Egypt could take back the Gaza Strip. However, the Jordanian and Egyptian regimes will absolutely not do so, leading back to option (2) above. Jordan’s government is based on the East Bank, Bedouin-origin population and has anxieties about the 60 percent of the population that is already of Palestinian origin. Egypt’s relatively secular elites are afraid of Muslim radicalism and would not want to have Hamas become part of Egypt. Both Egypt and Jordan bought into the Arab League position that the PLO is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and they cannot go against this principle without enormous trouble, even from their own populations, who engaged in huge protests during the recent Gaza war against these governments continuing to have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Since President Obama sent out George Mitchell to attempt to kickstart the peace process and get back on track to a two-state solution, both have now had the rug pulled out from under tham by an Israeli public moving to the far right.

Despite the vote tallies being in, it still is not clear who will form the next government in Israel.

Estimates of the seats won by leading parties in the Israeli elections pointed to a huge shift rightward.

Kadima: 28
Likud: 27
Beitenu: 15
Labor: 13
Arabs 9

According to AFP N. America service, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said, “Today the people have chosen Kadima . . .” She called on Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party to join in a government of national unity (with herself as prime minister). It may be sort of like when Hillary Clinton offered Obama vice president.

Livni’s problem is that if she tries for a right-of-center coalition with the left, she can only get 47 seats. The 9 Arab representatives would not formally join her coalition and now hate her because she was among the leaders of the great Gaza Massacre.

Last week, the Arab Members of the Knesset (parliament) let her have it:

‘ Livni will not be able to count on the support of the three Arab factions, whose MKs are still upset at her for her role in Operation Cast Lead and for saying in December that in the event of the formation of a Palestinian state, the national aspirations of Israeli Arabs “lie elsewhere.”

“What Livni said about us is worse than Lieberman,” United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi said on Saturday night. “That’s why we won’t recommend to Peres that Livni form a government.”

Hadash chairman Muhammad Barakeh said that “Tzipi Livni is not an option for us and neither is Barak or Netanyahu. I don’t see us recommending someone who supported the war.”

Kadima officials responded that such speculation did not matter, because the factions would reconsider their views if Livni won the election. ‘

But Kadima leaders may hope that the Arabs will vote with them because they have no place else togo. (Israel is 20% Arab, which should yield 24 seats in the Knesset, but only 9 were apparently elected, down from 12. Attempts were made to disqualify some Arab parties from running, but the Supreme Court struck them down)

Even if the Arabs changed their minds and tacitly supported Livni, that still only gets her, de facto, to 56. But she would need at least 61 to form a government and govern, meaning she’d have to attract at least one small rightwing party into her coalition. But that party would then have a veto because its defection would cause the government to fall. Livni said, at least, that she wanted to stop the Israeli settlement of the West Bank and even move some of the more exposed settlers back to Israel, by force if necessary. None of the small rightwing parties that might join her government and get her over 61 would accept this platform.

CBS explains Livni’s difficulties going forward.

The USG Open Source Center reports on press reaction to the election outcome in Israel:

‘ Israel: Large Rightist Bloc Seen Impeding Livni; Peres To Meet Factions Next Week
Israel — OSC Summary
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 . . .

Attila Somfalvi reports at 2054 GMT in Tel Aviv Ynetnews in English, a centrist news site operated by the Yedi’ot Media Group: “Although exit poll results are in, President Shimon Peres will only meet with Knesset factions at the beginning of next week in order to determine which party head will lead the formation of a new government coalition. The full count of votes — including those of foreign representatives and soldiers — is expected to be completed no earlier than Thursday afternoon. As such, Peres announced that discussions as to who should lead coalition-building would only begin next week.

“According to Israeli law, the creation of a coalition government is granted to the head of the faction who has the greatest chance of forming a coalition — in other words, the one with the greatest chance of securing positive support from other factions. Given this fact, it is unclear from exit polls which party leader should be given this task. While Qadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni appears to have won the elections (securing 28 to 30 seats, according to various polls,) Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu lags behind by only two mandates. More importantly, the exit polls show that right-wing parties will secure over 61 mandates — thus easily allowing for the potential creation of a right-wing coalition. Moreover, Livni has a troubled history with coalition construction. In October, after winning the Qadima primaries held pursuant to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation, Livni tried and failed to set up a coalition government, leading to the call for early elections.” ‘

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