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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Iran, Livni And The Price Of Political Stability

Iran, Livni And The Price Of Political Stability
By Caroline B. Glick The Jewish Press Wednesday, September 24 2008

On Sunday, Israeli military intelligence commanders sounded the alarm bells
on Iran. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Brigadier General Yossi
Baidatz, who commands the assessment division of the IDF's Military
Intelligence Directorate, said that Iran is "sprinting towards a nuclear
bomb."

Baidatz explained that the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's
handling of Iran's nuclear program "is not bringing results." He further
warned that the international community's efforts to isolate Iran and place
sanctions on it are failing.

Baidatz warned the Kadima-Labor-Shas government that, based on what the IAEA
has already discovered, it's clear Iran currently possesses a third of the
quantity of enriched uranium necessary to make an atomic bomb. What he did
not note is that Iran has multiple nuclear installations that it has not
disclosed to the IAEA. Moreover, now that Iran has gotten a handle on the
uranium enrichment process, it will not take the ayatollahs nearly as long
to enrich the last two-thirds of the uranium needed for a bomb as it took
them to enrich the first third.

From Baidatz's briefing, and from what we already have learned about the
international community's failure to unify around the need to prevent Iran
from acquiring nuclear weapons, it's apparent that the only way to stop Iran
from becoming a nuclear power is to bomb its nuclear installations. Only a
military strike can prevent Iran from getting the bomb. And the only
countries that can possibly be expected to perform such a service to
humanity are Israel and the U.S.

Unfortunately, it is fairly clear today that President Bush, in his waning
months in the Oval Office, will take not military action against Iran. Since
Bush in May 2007gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice full control over
U.S. policy toward Iran, Rice has made appeasing Tehran rather than
confronting it the goal of American policy. It is all but impossible to
foresee this policy changing - despite its self-evident failure - before
Bush leaves office in January.

That leaves Israel. But Israel has no coherent government at the moment.
Sunday evening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert officially submitted his
resignation to President Shimon Peres. Olmert now heads a transition
government that will remain in power either until Foreign Minister Tzipi
Livni forms a government or until elections are held and the winners form a
government.

The central question, then, is what serves Israel's interests better: a
coalition led by Livni that spares Israel months of political instability,
or months of political instability ahead of general elections that will
bring to power a new government with a fresh mandate from the Israeli
public?

Livni, her allies in Kadima, many Labor Party members, and the non-Zionist
Meretz and Shas parties claim that the best thing for Israel is political
stability and the worst is political instability. They argue that chances
for peace with the Palestinians and Syria may slip away if there is no
continuity in government. They also say that in light of "the great threats"
(meaning Iran) that Israel faces, now is no time for political distractions
like elections.

Opposing Livni and her allies is Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who argues
that Israel needs elections now despite the instability that such elections
would necessarily entail. Netanyahu points out that Livni -- who was elected
last week by less than 20,000 Kadima voters to replace Olmert as Kadima's
leader in a primary election riddled by accusations of vote fraud whose
results are now being contested in the courts - has no legitimate claim to
the premiership. She represents no one, was elected by no one, and may not
even be the legitimate leader of Kadima.

Beyond that, Netanyahu claims, Livni's demonstrated incompetence in the
foreign ministry makes her unfit to lead Israel in a dangerous time.
Moreover, Netanyahu and his allies argue that there is no chance whatsoever
of making peace with either the Palestinians or the Syrians today and the
government's embrace of the PLO and Syrian dictator and Iranian proxy Bashar
Assad harms Israel's national security.

Sitting on the fence waiting to see who offers them the best deal are
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and his supporters in Kadima. Rather
than accept Livni's authority after losing the primary to her by a mere 431
votes, Mofaz announced he was taking a break from politics. Mofaz's
supporters allege that Livni used fraud to win her narrow victory and have
contested the results. These Kadima members could leave the party and rejoin
Likud in exchange for safe seats on Likud's Knesset list.

Also sitting on the fence is Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak. Barak sees no advantage to accepting Livni's authority. Doing so will
simply increase her chances of defeating him in general elections. Moreover,
Livni's dubious electioneering maneuvers against Mofaz have tarnished her
image as the Mrs. Clean of Israeli politics and likely harmed her prospects
in general elections if she fails to form a coalition and is forced to stand
for election. On the other hand, Barak's fellow Labor Party members and
cabinet ministers wish to join forces with Livni to prevent elections.

It is impossible to foretell how this drama will unfold. But it can only be
hoped that Netanyahu gets his wish and elections are called. Since Olmert,
Livni and then-defense minister Amir Peretz led Israel to its first military
defeat in the war with Hizbullah two years ago, Kadima and Labor have
continuously claimed that in spite of their failures, what Israel needs most
is political stability and so they must not be forced to seek a mandate from
the public for their continuation in office. And with the support of their
backbenchers in the Knesset, they have over and over again blocked the
public's right to choose.

But far from securing Israel, the "stability" they have provided has simply
moved the country from failure to failure. Their failure in the war with
Iran's Lebanese proxy army was followed by their failure to prevent Hamas -
Iran's Palestinian proxy - from taking over Gaza. They've also failed to
stop Iran from arming Hamas to the teeth and so transforming Gaza into the
new Lebanon. And they failed to prevent Iran's postwar takeover of Lebanon
through Hizbullah this past May.

Rather than confront Iran's proxies, they have compounded the dangers by
legitimizing Iran's Syrian proxy by initiating negotiations towards the
surrender of the Golan Heights with Iran's man in Damascus, Syrian dictator
Bashar Assad. And they compounded the dangers of Hamas's takeover of Gaza by
negotiating the surrender of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria with Fatah, and so
showed Iran and its proxies that no matter what they do to Israel, Israel
will continue to cough up land to them.

As for Iran itself, Olmert, Livni and their colleagues have failed to garner
any significant international support for confronting Tehran. Indeed, it is
they who have overseen Israel's relations with the U.S. as Washington has
effectively abandoned the cause of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear
weapons.

This is not the team Israel needs to lead it. And though it's true Israel
will go through a period of increased volatility as its neighbors take
advantage of the power vacuum in Jerusalem, that mustn't deter it from
moving toward elections. As Iran sprints toward a nuclear bomb, the only way
Israel can stop the mullahs from securing the means to destroy the Jewish
state is by electing leaders who will have the courage to attack Iran.

Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish
Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month. Her new book,
"The Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad," is available at
Amazon.com.

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