Israeli Politics and the Kerry Plan

John Kerry has presented his outline for negotiating core issues to the Quartet and now has their stamp of approval.  The plan will finally be presented to the Arab League for approval soon, and their approval will provide political cover for Abbas to accept the plan.   

Israeli peace negotiator  Tzipi Livni and Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal spoke on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany over the weekend. 

Turki and Livni discussed the Saudi peace initiative. Introduced in 2002 under the auspices of the Arab League, the proposal entails full normalization between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries in exchange for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.  They also discussed the Kerry plan in preparation for its presentation to the Arab League. 

At that point the ball will be in Israel’s court.

There is a small possibility no matter how unlikely that tehg plan will be so vague that it can be accepted by the present Israeli far right coalition, a situation that Netanyahu has been working for.

Livni says that Israel would probably accept the plan. According to Israel Radio, Tzipora reported that while Israel won’t be enamored with every single aspect of the framework agreement being drafted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, “Israel can live with it.”

Far more likely is that the Israeli governing coalition will be split apart.  If Netanyahu rejects the plan the peace oriented coalition partners may leave, and if he accepts the plan the far right parties may exit the coalition.

Because of the intense American pressure and a probable Abbas acceptance of the plan, Netanyahu will probably be forced to accept the plan. 

This is highly likely to bring on a split in Likud between the far right and the peace oriented MKs, with Netanyahu trying to cobble together a peace coalition including his new party, Labor, Meretz, Hatnua and the Palestinian parties. 

Netanyahu knowing this, may leave Likud taking the peace oriented MKs with him, to form a new party along the lines of what Sharon did over the Gaza withdrawal.

Netanyahu bereft of his far right base, will then be at the mercy of the center and left; and if Labor’s Hertzog smells the end of Netanyahu, he may refuse to tango with Netanyahu; which means an election. 

Israel is ready to attack Gaza to destroy the militants there and return control to the Palestinian Authority, which will their first tangible benefit from the Kerry plan. 

The Israeli Intelligence Minister is now openly calling for an invasion of Gaza and the destruction of Hamas, to give Gaza back to the Palestinian Authority. 

Walla! reports this morning that  Gaza  insiders revealed to the daily that Hamas’s military wing ordered the forces restraining rocket launches to withdraw in retaliation to four Israeli air strikes last Thursday, after one rocket from Gaza landed near Netivot.

The move provides a virtual “green light” for militants of various groups to fire on Israel, after the next incident and Israeli  strike. Major General Aviv Kohavi revealed Wednesday night that some 170,000 rockets and missiles are already aimed at Israel from all enemies.

The war is expected to escalate to include the goal of eradicating Hezbollah. 

At the same time:  Assad has heavily fortified the Alawite area of Syria and is now being accused of retaining chemical weapons.  The US is threating another attempt at a Security Council resolution this week, and American military action is back on the table. 

The United States is also threatening an attack on Iran if Iran does not bow to American demands in the permanent agreement talks coming Feb 18th in Washington.

The conflict could bring thousands of rockets raining down on the main Israeli cities, drastically increasing public sympathy for a real peace deal.

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