Netanyahu's Power Move in Israel: United Front for Attack on Iran?

In Israel, Prime  Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just "cemented" his power with a move that has brought three-quarters of the Israeli Parliament, or Knesset, behind him in a coalition government--specifically, it includes the major opposition party Kadima.

This means a number of things for the nitty-gritty of Israeli politics, as well as the politics of the region, the hopes for peace and the end to the occupation, the possibility of an attack on Iran.

Mondoweiss's Paul Mutter, who has a thorough post-mortem breakdown, explains just how much power "Bibi" Netanyahu now has:

With Likud, the immediate effort is all about taking advantage of a beaten opposition; now only Labor and the smaller parties - Palestinian citizens of Israel, far-left and ultrareligious - remain, a most fractious and heavily outnumbered coalition. Bibi may just be the most politically-insulated Prime Minister in Israeli history at this moment: "king of Israeli politics," Haaretz just called him, grudgingly that he is, after all, "Israel's number one politician, no doubt - by a mile."

His take on the decision?

As for the foreign front, I think that Bibi has decided to hedge his bets for now on Iran by offering the bruised Kadima a way forward to survive another year in a way that insulates him from American pressure and possible domestic confrontations over his focus on Iran...

Now Netanyahu won't have to tone down his rhetoric on Iran, which he has used to successfully dodge the question on settlements as well as (reducing) sanctions and criticizing P5+1 diplomacy. Or, perhaps far, far more importantly for his fellow Likudniks' purposes, concern himself with any further weak Western protests over West Bank settlement expansion. At the risk of beating a dead horse - this coalition formation shows we can also say goodbye to any foreseeable future negotiations with Ramallah.>

At the Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg lists seven possible explanations for the "Israeli Political revolution."

And if you're confused by all the names and parties and coalitions, at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has a very basic primeron the "weird" move just made by Netanyahu.

Finally, a more optimistic take (from Kadima, and the peace process's point of view) from J.J. Goldberg at the Forward.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at May 8, 2012, 4:40am

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