Friday, July 02, 2010

Two rivals on the weakness of Netanyahu

Back in March, when Benjamin Netanyahu's Interior Minister Eli Yishai ruptured Israeli-U.S. relations by announcing plans to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem while U.S. Veep Joseph Biden was meeting with Netanyahu, Netanyahu's election rival (and possible prospective coalition partner) cast the tiff as a sign not of of the Prime Minister's arrogance but of his weakness:
Opposition leader and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Sunday cast her own criticism of Netanyahu regarding the recent row, saying his weakness to his coalition partners was costing the government its stability.

"The coalition agreement is not a substitute for a set path and a vision," Livni said, adding that "we have a prime minister who does not know what he wants and this weakness is leading to a political landslide."

"Israel is paying the price for the fact that her government is not making decisions and it will continue to pay for it," Livni added.

That might be dismissed as a rival's sniping. But now, Netanyahu's Foreign Minister, the thuggish Avigdor Lieberman, is making the same charge. Lieberman is reportedly furious and prepared to take "calculated revenge" on his own Prime Minister because Netanyahu sent Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to a secret meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, instead of Lieberman, and didn't tell Lieberman. In the wake of the meeting,  the Turkish paper Hurriyet reported (as relayed in the Jerusalem Post) that "Israel is prepared to apologize to Turkey for the flotilla incident and to compensate the families of the injured parties,"  which Ben-Eliezer's office denied.

The Post, reporting on Lieberman's fury, attributed this hail-to-the-chief sentiment to him:

Sources close to Lieberman said he had realized that whoever pressured Netanyahu hardest and last tended to convince him, and that from now on, he intended to be the one applying that final, persuasive pressure.
So we have one embittered, highly competitive nominal subordinate and one narrowly defeated potential coalition partner (whose Kadima party actually won one more seat that Netanyahu's Likud but couldn't form a coalition) in agreement as to the nature of the man and his coalition.  Which doesn't, of course, make it true.

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