Israel’s Election & What Obama Needs To Know About Iran

by Joel Rosenberg [novelist]

One thing is now clear after Tuesday’s national elections in Israel: the center-right coalition made dramatic gains and how can have an operating majority with 64 seats in the 120 seat Knesset (parliament), if they choose to work together in unity.

The center-left parties, by contrast, were trounced and now have only 56 seats, eight of which are held by Arab parties who so deeply resent the left-wing’s participation in the recent Gaza war against Hamas that they cannot be counted upon to help the left form a stable governing coalition.

The big surprise last night was that the leading center-right party – Likud, headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – did not win a plurality. The left-wing Kadima party, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, did. So things get really interesting from here.

At this hour, with 99.8% of the vote counted, Kadima appears to have squeaked out a narrow lead over Likud Party, 28 seats to 27 seats. If these results hold, they will mean Kadima will have one less seat in the next Knesset than the 29 they currently have. They also meant Likud will have 15 seats more than the 12 they currently have. But two weeks ago, Likud was widely expected to win a total of between 31 to 34 seats, and a decisive victory over Kadima.

So who will emerge as the next Prime Minister of Israel? This remains to be determined, but based on everything I’m seeing at the moment it would appear that Netanyahu has the edge, given the size and strength of the overall center-right coalition.

Here’s what to watch for:

* Final election results won’t be known until February 18th, when all of the absentee and military ballots have been counted.

* After the final results are in, Israel’s President – Shimon Peres – is legally mandated to invite the party leader with the best chance at forming a stable government to try to put together his or her coalition within a short time frame.

* If the current results hold, Livni and her team will argue to Peres that they should be given this opportunity because they have won a plurality. However, Peres gave Livni the opportunity to form a government last fall, and she couldn’t do it. Even when she asked for and was granted more time by Peres to form a government, she still couldn’t accomplish it, even though the Left had far more seats that they do now. Livni’s failure to succeed is what prompted these new elections in the first place.

* What’s more, Livni’s ability to form a center-left coalition has just been dramatically complicated by the fact that Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s badly decimated Labor Party has just announced that it will sit in the opposition in the next government, not help one side or the other form a coalition or a unity government.

* Keep your eye on former Avigdor Lieberman and his right-wing Israel Beiteinu party. Theyjust won an impressive 15 seats, though they were expecting to win 20. Still, Lieberman suddenly has quite a bit of leverage, and I expect him to milk his perceived “kingmaker” status for all it is worth. Keep in mind that Lieberman once served as chief of staff (director general) when Netanyahu was Prime Minister in the late 1990s. Thus, he is certainly inclined to help Netanyahu create a strong center-right coalition government. But Lieberman is also an opportunist. He once broke away from Likud and created his own party, critizing Likud for not being tough enough against Palestinian and Iranian extremists. Then he joined the government of Ehud Olmert, and was rewarded by Olmert with the title of Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Affairs. True, he quit when Olmert’s stock was plunging like a rock. Now he is playing footsie with Livni, suggesting he’s not opposed to helping her form a government. Personally, I don’t buy it. Anything’s possible, of course, and we could see a lot of twists and turns on the road ahead. But I think Lieberman is creating leverage to get as much power from Netanyahu as possible. In the end, I suspect Netanyahu and Lieberman will cut a deal together, if for no other reason than for the sake of toppling Hamas and defending Israel from the increasingly imminent threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.


What President Obama Needs To Know About Iran’s Leaders

President Obama on Monday night, in his first White House press conference, said his administration is reviewing U.S. policy towards Iran, but made it crystal clear it will be sharply different than that of the Bush administration.

“I think there’s the possibility, at least, of a relationship of mutual respect and progress,” said the President, but added that “it’s time now for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently.”

It is certainly prudent to review U.S. policy, but it is wishful thinking to expect signals of a desire from Iran’s leadership that they will act differently. It is critical that the new administration carefully analyzes the eschatology — or End Times theology — of Iranian Supreme Leader Khameini and President Ahmadinejad. It is impossible to develop an effective strategy to deal with Iran until one truly understands this eschatology.

In my forthcoming non-fiction book, INSIDE THE REVOLUTION (March 10th, Tyndale), I explain their eschatology in great detail and quote both of them at length. In the meantime, here are some quick points to keep in mind about what Khameini and Ahmadinejad believe:

1. The end of the world is near and the Islamic Messiah known as the Mahdi or the 12th Imam is coming soon.

2. The Islamic Messiah will only come when the world is engulfed in chaos and carnage.

3. Islamic leaders can hasten the arrival of the Islamic Messiah by annihilating two countries — Israel, “the Little Satan,” and the United States, “the Great Satan.”

4. It is not just possible, it is the God-given mission of Iran’s leaders to destroy Jews and Christians or force them to convert to Shia Islam.

5. Iran must rapidly acquire the technology necessary to accomplish genocide — namely nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

6. Israel’s “defeat” by Hezbollah and Hamas and Israel’s divided election results indicate the Jewish states is increasingly weak and prepared for destruction. The severe economic crisis in the U.S. shows America is about to collapse as well.

7. With the U.S. and Israel so weakened and their collapse imminent, there is no incentive to truly negotiate with “Satan” and give up Iran’s pursuit of advanced nuclear technology.

8. However, there is an incentive to buy time until Iran builds, buys or steals the weapons it needs to accomplish its genocidal, apocalyptic objectives.

One thing is clear after the press conference: President Obama does not currently understand what is driving Iran’s leaders. What’s more, he has no intention of even seriously considering military action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them to Israel, Europe and the United States. This means Israel’s next Prime Minister will be the last leader on the planet in position to stop Iran. ExileStreet

copyright 2008 Joel Rosenberg

Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of THE LAST JIHAD, THE LAST DAYS, THE EZEKIEL OPTION, THE COPPER SCROLL and EPICENTER with more than one million copies in print. He previously served as a senior advisor to several U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been interviewed on more than 300 radio and TV shows, including ABC’s “Nightline,” CBN’s 700 Club, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, the Michael Reagan Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Sean Hannity Show.. Website

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