Is it really that difficult for Israel supporters to see how the current Israeli government can be at least perceived as incapable or unwilling to make peace with the Palestinians? Not only is the governing coalition by far the most conservative in history (the Kadima party is really considered to be the extreme left?), but within the rightist coalition PM Netanyahu somehow comes off as the rational centrist.
Remember the recent revelation that Netanyahu had bragged about deceiving the US to break up the Olso Accords? Yet, Israeli President Peres has told Abbas that his PM is trustworthy and wants peace. So, on the one hand, the Palestinians must deal with a man – a man who is somehow more open to peace than the rest of his coalition – who gloated about killing peace in his last term and on the other hand there is rhetorical support for Netanyahu. Not only has Peres backed his PM, but so has the American President while Netanyahu is constantly talking about successful talks.
[tweetmeme] These contradicting messages are what is leaving Palestinians unsure of Israeli intentions. Does Netanyahu truly want peace and is he ready to make the concessions necessary for successful negotiations? Or is he talking about peace to keep the support of the Americans while winning over the international community? Is he a peacemaker or merely Avigdor Lieberman in sheep’s clothing?
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s coalition is divided over the peace talks. While the PM has, at times, seemed open to at least a partial settlement freeze extension, his hawkish settler-FM, Avigdor Lieberman, has adamantly called for a continuation of illegal Israeli construction on Palestinian land. Furthermore, although the PM has expressed confidence that peace talks can successfully end within one year, Lieberman has not only said that the talks will fail, but that peace with Palestine is impossible within the next generation.
It is not unreasonable to see such disagreement from the political opposition; in the US Republicans and Democrats oppose each other’s policies on such a fundamental level. It is very rare to see this kind of basic opposition from within the government and leads to questions about Netanyahu’s ability to govern and to make peace.
With such strong opposition to peace from within his own governing coalition (not to mention the members from the Shas and Israel is our Home parties), it is a legitimate to wonder about Netanyahu’s determination for peace. Is he merely dancing the peace dance to score diplomatic points or is he actually different than the rest of his coalition? Furthermore, has his political views evolved significantly over the last 10 years or will we hear him brag about undermining these talks in ten years time?
Photo from Tablet