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Lieberman – King Or Queen Maker Of Israeli Election

Avigdor Lieberman's far-right party may hold key to Israel's next prime minister

Lieberman has been drawing voters from front runner Bibi Netanyahu of Likud

Although Netanyahu coalition is still leading option, Kadima's Tzipi Livni might form coalition with Lieberman and Labor

MK Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Avigdor Lieberman is without doubt the biggest surprise of Israel's current election campaign. When the votes are tallied in the February10th ballot, Lieberman may even beat out Labor's Ehud Barak for third place. If so, Lieberman could end up as king or queen maker by supporting wither Netanyahu or Livni for the premiership. Lieberman takes a tough stand not only against the Palestinians but also against Israeli Arabs, charging they are disloyal to the Jewish state. What is behind the electorate's obvious swing to the right? IsraCast examines why this crucial swing has transpired and will probably determine the composition of the next Israeli government.

After all the ballots are counted on February 10, state president Shimon Peres will meet separately with all the parties elected to the new Knesset. They will each propose one candidate who they think should form the next Israeli government. After the President meets with all the parties, Peres will then call upon the candidate for prime minister, who he thinks has the best chance of forming a coalition that can muster the 61 seat majority in the Knesset.

According to the polls, there has been a swing to the right and the right wing parties are expected to garner more Knesset seats in total than a possible centrist bloc led by Kadima

All the latest polls indicate that although the Likud's Bibi Netanyahu is still front runner, Kadima's Tzipi Livni is closing the gap. This is due to the rise of Avigdor Lieberman's far right party called 'Israel Our Home'. It has been drawing voters away from the Likud and Netanyahu's party, although still ahead, may not win a clear-cut victory over Livni. How come? Well many Likud voters have apparently reached the conclusion: "Our man Netanyahu is going to win anyway, so let's strengthen Lieberman in the next coalition". Now Netanyahu has been trying to block this leaking away of Likud voters by promising to give Lieberman a top cabinet post and stressing the need for a strong Likud. According to the polls, there has been a swing to the right and the right wing parties are expected to garner more Knesset seats in total than a possible centrist bloc led by Kadima. If the polls are correct and Lieberman decides to go with Netanyahu the Likud leader will be home free because Livni will be unable to form a coalition.

Although Labor's Ehud Barak receives massive public support as defense minister, not nearly that many want to see him as prime Minister and that is reflected in the polls. Labor is expected to win only about 15 seats as compared to its victory of over 40 mandates when led by Itzhak Rabin, who championed the Oslo peace process with the Palestinians back in the early 90s. Then Israeli voters had high hopes that peace could be achieved with the Palestinians but this is obviously not the mood of the moment today. What's gone wrong over the years and why are most Israelis so disillusioned about peace prospects with the Palestinians? 

Dr. Yisrael Aumann

Dr. Yisrael Aumann, an Israeli winner of the Nobel Prize, has presented his professional assessment of how the Palestinian peace process has turned sour.  Speaking recently at the Jerusalem Conference, Dr. Aumann presented his thoughts..

IsraCast presents the translated text of his lecture to provide an insight to why Israeli voters are probably going to a more right wing government on February 10th, one that will be far less ready to make concessions to the Palestinians.

We have sent a very clear signal to the Palestinians that terror pays, and they act in keeping with this. After the terror of the second intifada, we expelled 10,000 Jews from their homes from Gush Katif (in the Gaza Strip)

I have grave concerns not about global terrorism but about the local terrorism here in my home. Not how the West will react to it, but how we ourselves will deal with it. Ladies and gentlemen, not only do we not react wisely to terrorism, but we are actually encouraging and giving incentives to the terrorists. As such, we are bringing the terrorism upon ourselves!  I earn my living from the study of game theory and the most important idea in game theory has to do with incentives. A person behaves according to the incentives he receives and if he believes certain actions will advance his aims, he will act in this direction. We have sent a very clear signal to the Palestinians that terror pays, and they act in keeping with this. After the terror of the second intifada, we expelled 10,000 Jews from their homes from Gush Katif ( in the Gaza Strip). We destroyed the synagogues and schools - families and Jewish communities. In light of this, the terrorists became convinced that their way brings results 'good results' from their point of view. We succeeded in persuading them and now we will find it very difficult to persuade them the opposite.

Ladies and gentlemen I want peace! I would want ' peace now' but we ourselves have destroyed this possibility with our concessions. But at the very least I want peace for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Paradoxically, the way to achieve peace is not by shouting "peace, peace!" That brings the opposite. The way to peace is not by concessions, gestures, not by flexibility and not all these things. They lead to war, and I want peace!

We have brought it upon ourselves. We are guilty because we showed the Palestinians "continue to pressure us, continue to blow us up and we will give in! They understood this correctly

For 24 years after the First Lebanon war (in 1981), we had no real war in our land. There was no peace - there were suicide bombers who blew themselves up and blew us up, but there was no real war. What brought us the war was the expulsion of the Jewish settlements from Kush Katif (Gaza Strip). It brought upon us the Second Lebanon and led to the Hamas takeover of Gaza in a very, very direct manner. It also brought upon us the Qassam and Grad rockets. And now it has lead to the IDF military operation ' Cast Lead ' into Gaza. It is a great pity that our sons, the soldiers  have been killed and wounded and I also feel it is a great pity for those Palestinians who've also been killed and wounded. But it is we ourselves who brought this about - we have done this not with our military operation but with our expulsion of Jewish settlement from Gush Katif.  We have brought it upon ourselves. We are guilty because we showed the Palestinians "continue to pressure us, continue to blow us up and we will give in! They understood this correctly.

Ladies and gentlemen I said that I earn my living from game theory but you do not need an understanding of an esoteric branch of science in order to realize this. You only need a little, a little common sense and also a little knowledge of history. The Romans already said: "If you want peace, prepare for war". They knew it 2000 years ago. Not only is it necessary to be ready with materiel, with tanks, artillery and aircraft but also to prepare mentally for war. I am not a fervent follower of the Romans but on this they were right. They not only had common sense but also 400 years of history, 400 years of peace, of Pax Romanum, to prove it. But those years of disintegration of the Roman Empire also revealed the other side of the coin: if you are not prepared for war mentally, you will bring that war about.

However, we don't have to go back two-thousand years, it's enough to look at our own times - what preserved peace between the US and the Soviet Union? Calls for peace, disarmament, gestures and concessions? No, they did not preserve peace - they would have brought war. What maintained the peace were warplanes, armed with nuclear weapons that were in the air 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 40 years. Nuclear armed planes, 40 years, all the time. But it was not only the aircraft but also the determination to activate those planes. That is what preserved the peace.

what preserved peace between the US and the Soviet Union? Calls for peace, disarmament, gestures and concessions? No, they did not preserve peace. What maintained the peace were warplanes, armed with nuclear weapons that were in the air 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 40 years

And what brought about the biggest war of the past century, World War II? What led to that war were the peaceniks of that time, they brought about the war - those who declared ' peace, peace - anything but war, just one more small or big concession, let's just sacrifice another 10,000 or 10,000s of more people. Maybe then the Germans will finally be satisfied!' And when Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister returned from Munich in the spring of 1938, he announced to his country and the entire world that he had brought: 'peace in our time!' Peace in our time but after another 18 months, Britain declared the start of World War II, not Germany, Britain declared war because it was then impossible to concede any more, it was simply impossible.

Chamberlain with his 'peace in our time' and those shouting 'peace peace whatever the price', they brought about the war. I'm not referring now to the question of the Greater Land of Israel or any ideological step that is not the issue at hand. But the is that the concessions, flexibility, the gestures and the readiness, they bring war. And I say to you |I want peace, I am a peacenik. Our peaceniks, Peace Now, the New Middle East and all the rest ad nauseam have brought us only war, only suicide bombers, only rioting. Enough! Enough! I truly want peace, let's prepare for the struggle, prepare to fight with determination for our lives and then the Almighty willing, we will then achieve the hoped-for peace.

David Essing

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