Netanyahu Faces Political Rebellion in Israel

Ehud Barak speaking at Herzliya
Ehud Barak speaking at Herzliya

Ongoing genocide of Yazidis in Syria…

Yazidis are neither Muslim nor Arab, and follow a distinct faith that is abhorred by Daesh. At this very moment, Daesh is perpetrating genocide of 400,000 Yazidi women, children and men, mostly in Syria. Everyone has known it’s been going on and now the UN has verified it. Chairman Paul Pinheiro has issued a report by the UN commission of Inquiry in Geneva disclosing:

       ‘Genocide has occurred and is ongoing. ISIS (Daesh) has subjected every Yazidi woman, child and man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities. Girls as young as nine are being raped, as are pregnant women. More than 3,200 Yazidi women and children are being held mostly in Syria’.

Where are the great powers? If the US is still leader of the Free World, where is President Barack Obama? Obama is said to be greatly concerned about his legacy, so is he not aware the Yazidi genocide will also be part of it? That is, if America sits back and continues to do nothing. For that matter, where is the Israeli government and Prime Minister Netanyahu – should he be not be speaking out or acting on behalf of the Yazidis, who are now suffering what the Nazis did to the Jews?

The Jewish people should remember that during World War II, the Allies decided they could not spare a few bombers to destroy the gas chambers in Auschwitz because they had more important missions to carry out. Well, coalition jets are bombing Daesh targets in Syria today. Could their aerial intelligence not seek out the Daesh sadists who are murdering the helpless Yazidis?

The world is dismayed for days on end, and rightly so, by the atrocities of Islamist terrorists in Orlando, Paris and Tel Aviv yet it pays no more than a passing notice to a genocide now being perpetrated by Daesh in Syria. Having said all this – what to make of it?

Barak & Ya’alon take on Bibi…

A major shake-up is apparently on the way in Israeli politics. Two political heavyweights have signaled they are preparing to take on Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. First is former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who was recently fired by Netanyahu because the PM wanted to increase his coalition majority by bringing in Avigdor Lieberman as his new Defense Minister. The startling move triggered a firestorm of criticism from inside Bibi’s own Likud party. (See IsraCast report ‘Is Bibi Playing Russian Roulette Politics With Israel’s National Security?’). Ya’alon, a former IDF Chief of Staff has not turned the other cheek to Bibi’s cynical move. In a speech to the Herzliya Conference, Ya’alon threw down his gauntlet and declared:

       ‘It is my intention to run for the leadership in the next election’.

But Ya’alon should not hold his breath. The next election is due only before Nov. 5th, 2019. Who knows? An early election is more often the case in Israeli politics. In any case, Ya’alon did not spell out if he meant to challenge Bibi for the Likud leadership or to form a new party, possibly with current Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s party and former Likud cabinet minister Gideon Sa’ar. But make no mistake – Ya’alon opposes the two state solution. The former IDF Chief of Staff contends there is no genuine Palestinian peace partner and the IDF cannot reasonably be expected to defend Israel without control of the West Bank.

While Ya’alon has bombarded Bibi from the Right, former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak lambasted Bibi from the Left. After charging that Netanyahu is leading Israel down the road to ‘an apartheid state and budding fascism’, Barak referred to the PM’s ‘covert agenda’ to sabotage a two-state solution. Then Barak declared:

    ‘I call on the government to come to its senses, to get back on track immediately. If it does not do that it will be incumbent on all of us – Yes, all of us – to get off our seats and bring down this government through a national protest and through the ballot box before it’s too late’.

The key phrase is ‘yes, all of us’. In effect, Barak has signaled the Center and Leftist parties that there is a clear and present need to form a unified bloc to topple the Likud and the two Right wing parties led by Lieberman and Naftali Bennett that oppose the two-state solution. And naturally with his extensive experience as a former Prime Minister, Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff, Barak is the obvious choice to lead such an unlikely conglomeration.

Although Bibi is in hot water for screwing up relations with the Obama administration, cynically dumping the highly respected Ya’alon, as well as rumors of financial monkey business, opinion polls still show him as the preferred PM when it comes to the one issue that determines an Israeli election – security. That is because there is no opposition leader who has a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating Netanyahu. Labor’s Yitzhak Herzog and Yair Lapid are lightweights who have no security standing when it comes to taking the 3:00AM call about an impending war, etc. This is the reality of Israeli politics. But naturally Barak could fit the bill and fill this security vacuum that has plagued the Centre-Left in the three previous elections.

Barak has thrown his hat into the ring. Let’s see who will pick it up. Look for a public campaign to draft him to run against Bibi. The question is whether such a campaign will gather enough steam to galvanize sufficient support from the Center and Left. Although considered to be brilliant, Barak has a down side when it comes to human relations. Many people consider him to be arrogant and totally self-centered. As if Bibi isn’t. So for some Israelis it may boil down to the question, ‘whom do I dislike more, Bibi or Barak?’

After Barak’s ‘I’m ready’ speech, the pollsters will rush to check the public’s reaction. Knowing Barak, I bet he’s already tested the waters by conducting his own private opinion poll and that it showed he can beat Bibi again.

Barak, Israel’s most decorated soldier, was actually Bibi’s commander in the IDF’s vaunted Sayeret Matkal Special Forces unit. Years later both went into politics on different sides. Barak, leading Left wing Labor defeated Netanyahu at the head of Right wing Likud in the election of 1999. He has often related to Bibi as if from on high, as if Bibi is still one of his subordinates in the army. This now remains to be seen.

At Camp David 2000, Barak worked hand in glove with President Bill Clinton in forging a peace plan for a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. It was based on a major Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, something around 95%, with land swaps for Israeli settlement blocs. Barak even agreed to partition Jerusalem – what’s Jewish would remain Israeli, like the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. On the other hand, the disputed Temple Mount would be finagled between the two sides. Barak also agreed that the Palestinians could make their capital in the eastern part of Jerusalem. There would be Israeli security arrangements on the West Bank, a very limited number of Palestinian refugees could return to Israel, and the peace accord would put paid to all Palestinian claims. This was the historic peace treaty Barak accepted when proposed formally by Bill Clinton.

It was then offered on a silver platter to Yasser Arafat. And what did Arafat say? He said nothing; he just packed his bags and flew back to Ramallah. He knew a majority of Palestinians would probably kick him out of office at best or kill him at worst, if he agreed to live in peace with the Jewish state as had Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein. This was the peace offering that an exasperated Bill Clinton recently related to when he declared:

       ‘I killed myself for the Palestinians at Camp David!’

Barak himself returned home where leading members in his own Labor party blasted him on two separate counts! First he had given away the kitchen sink. But on the other hand, he had surprised and stunned Arafat by offering him too much at once, and the Palestinian leader had to be spoon-fed over a period of time in order to sell it to the Palestinians. In effect, the Palestinians would finally have to accept Israel as a Jewish state and that the 650,000 or so refugees of 1948 with their four million descendants would not be returning to Israel but to Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza. In his parting shot, Barak predicted the Camp David plan would one day form the basis of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Apparently he thinks that time has come.

Initial reaction: Netanyahu has responded to the separate battle cries of Ya’alon and Barak by calling them the ‘parties of the disgruntled’. They were simply blowing hot air after they had both served under Netanyahu for years as defense ministers. MK Tzipi Livni, another former disgruntled Likudnik, who is now in the Zionist Camp (Labor) party has officially called for the formation of a ‘democratic bloc’ to support a two-state solution. In her view, ‘Israel must now make the critical decision it has not adopted for fifty years (the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel defeated the combined Arab armies that threatened to annihilate the Jewish state). Livni, who also addressed the Herzliya Conference, added:

       ‘There is a majority in favor of the two-state solution among the Israeli people and there is a need for a large camp to represent this majority in a clear and decisive way. Without a decision between annexation or partition we are just babbling without direction and without a decision on our future, while the Palestinians undermine us internally and harm Israel’s values’.

And this is her practical solution:

       ‘We need a national referendum on one single question – do we want one state and the annexation of millions of Palestinians in Judea & Samaria (West Bank), or a partition and the preservation of a Jewish and democratic Israel? There are no other options’.

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