Here’s an interesting report from the Debka File that suggests that Israel under Netanyahu may elect to settle accounts with Israel’s enemies within months of his assuming the Prime Minister’s Office. The calculation to achieve a more stable government and a better position in the Knesset seems to be based on the likelihood of a major military engagement drawing in the reluctant Kadima and Labor parties into a national unity government. Clearly Israel faces grave dangers from a host of foes but the likely reckoning with Iran will be the most dangerous by far. If ever there was a time for a Unity Government; now would be the time. Netanyahu is a savvy politician who’s plans for the future look beyond the present intransigence of Kadima and Labor’s sulking to the unity government forged by war and a reckoning with Iran that can’t be postponed. He may well be right and war may well force Kadima and Labor into participation in a Netanyahu led government.
Here’s the story from the Debka File:
Netanyahu may settle for interim government until early election
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis
March 12, 2009, 11:38 AM (GMT+02:00)
Having failed to draw Kadima and Labor into a unity government, DEBKAfile‘s political sources report that Israel’s prime minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu is planning to settle for a provisional administration serving six months before calling another early election.
Loath to rest his government’s stability on right-wing and religious parties (61 out of 120 Knesset members), Netanyahu prefers to take his chances on a new ballot. But he rejected the recommendation from of his close advisers to notify the president next week that he is throwing in the sponge in the belief that he can use the extra six months to good advantage.
His main consideration is that Israel expects to be embroiled in a major military confrontation in the next few months with Iran, Hamas or Hizballah – or all three at once – a compelling scenario for a national emergency government against which Kadima and Labor will find it hard to hold out.
With this eventuality in mind, the Likud leader keeping the senior portfolios of security, treasury and justice open for members of those two parties or deposited with Likud ministers who will step aside and make way for them in an emergency.
A prominent example of this tactic is the new Likud legislator, the former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon. He is penciled in for defense in the interim administration on the understanding that if Labor joins, he will step down and accept the No. 2 position. Uri Yogev, a former treasury official, likewise expects to stand down for a Labor or Kadima candidate in finance.
Netanyahu is not waiting for a war emergency; he is quietly pursuing Labor and Kadima in informal conversations with defense minister Ehud Barak of Labor and Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz and Tzahi Hanegbi.
His offer of the foreign ministry to Israel Beteinu’s controversial leader Avigdor Lieberman is not yet signed and sealed. The prime minister-designate calculates that if the ongoing police probe into his financial affairs culminates in an indictment, Lieberman will have to withdraw, but his party will continue to support the government.
Lieberman’s exit will ease the path of Kadima and Labor to government.
Netanyahu closest circle of advisers, our political sources report, consists of his wife, Sara Netanyahu, the lawyer-politician and former justice minister, Yaacov Neeman and Likud lawmakers Reuven Rivlin, Gideon Saar and Gilead Erdan.