When the Netanyahu government was formed, Israeli media was filled with predictions of how long it would be before Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would be forced to resign to face criminal charges and whether Lieberman’s departure would signal a coalition re-shuffling or a new government altogether. Just shy of two years later, Lieberman remains in his post. Based on media references, the uninformed might believe he serves as
It’s no-doubt irritating to the anti-Lieberman crowd that like them or not, the Moldovan émigré offers plans rather than ad hominem attacks to back up his positions. This, of course, fuels speculation that his outbursts are more coordinated with the Prime Minster’s Office than is let on. While Lieberman is often tarred with the “racist” epithet for suggesting a transfer of population, successive Israeli-Palestinian negotiating teams have accepted in-principle the idea of several Israeli settlement-blocs remaining after any final agreement inside of territory Israel acquired in the 1967-war; and that compensation would be made to the Palestinians in an equal amount of territory now located inside of pre-1967 Israel. [A detailed rendering of the concept has been painstakingly created under former Ambassador Edward Djerjian’s watch at the James A. Baker III Institute at
The timing of Lieberman’s most recent outbursts is newfound nourishment for conspiracy theorists. They come amid a stagnant process that the American administration is desperately trying to paint with signs of life and direction. Having given up on the failed formula of cajoling (and even bribing) the parties back to the table, U.S. interlocutors are struggling for believability and capability while the Palestinians’
”Plan B” – turning to the international community for endorsement of statehood absent Israeli assent – is resonating beyond the expectations of many inside the world of international diplomacy. What better time for Israel to put forth its own “Plan B” – and one that contains within it a mechanism to forestall a final agreement (which Lieberman says is “impossible” and Netanyahu arguably wants to postpone) — all while covering the points nearest and dearest to Prime Minister Fayyad: turning over more security responsibility to the Palestinians; improving Palestinians’ freedom of movement; and setting the goal of economic parity between the West Bank and Israel as the trigger for eventual (and consensual) statehood. After all, had Netanyahu offered the same suggestions, they would have been dismissed no less decisively than they are now but added to the downside would be incalculable collateral damage between Jerusalem and Washington.
Veteran Israeli political junkies will probably dismiss this entire thesis, opting instead to be entertained by predictions of the perfect political storm that will blow away the current government. But stripped of political theatre, what is laid bare could be a Rube Goldberg-esque system of injecting new ideas into an un-accepting culture of conventional wisdoms. And new ideas – regardless of how they enter the system — trump stagnation.