Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Likud RisingBenjamin Netanyahu
Last year in commenting on the Lebanese political shift (as led by Uncle Naz) I mentioned the likely hood of Sharon's (Olmert's) Kadima party losing prominence to Netanyahu's hawkish Likud counter party. Not exactly a stunning prediction in that it was pretty damn obvious but:

Israel's ruling Kadima Party has plummeted in popularity and would badly lose a new election, while the hawkish opposition Likud Party would easily win control of the government in a new vote, according to a poll published on Friday in the daily Haaretz. The poll results show the continued drop in popularity of the centrist Kadima under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The party was formed by former prime minister Ariel Sharon when he left Likud in 2005. Olmert took over after the popular Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke last year. Support for Olmert has plummeted after he was widely seen to have mishandled last summer's war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Olmert has also been tarnished by allegations of corruption, though he has not been charged with any wrongdoing. If elections were held now, Kadima, which currently controls 29 seats in the 120-member parliament, would shrink to only 12 seats -- making it the fourth largest party -- according to the poll of 500 people. The margin of error was 4.9 percentage points. Only 14 percent of those polled said they were satisfied with Olmert.

Whether Sharon's legacy will entail his being perhaps the most militant character in Israels 60 year history, his willingness to make landmark concessions (regardless of "real intentions") or the more likely combination of both his loss was, in my opinion, a staggering blow to any possibility of realizing a Palestinian state or the subsequent likely hood of a lasting peace.

I find it very unlikely that Sharon's reaction to Hezbollah's kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers would have entailed the same meandering character that Olmert's decidedly abortive operation presented. Had Sharon reacted with a military incursion he likely would have localized the aggression to the Lebanese border and wouldn't have pounded Beirut, Tripoli, or other densely populated cities.
From the cold position of strategy the strikes in Lebanon's capital have a degree of cogency (an effects based operation disassembling the enemies arms supply and command infrastructure) but when one considers the domestic and international political logistics (which obviously carry more weight) they take on a wayward almost desperate nature especially given the fact that the pure strategic goals were a failure. Hezbollah came through unmitigated and more popular than ever.

Yes, I understand hindsight is 20/20 and that I'm not living in a situation where a Katyusha rocket can plummet into my living room and end my existence.

That aside, the near certain rise of Likud doesn't bode well for any hope of peace in the region. This combined with the current power struggle between Fatah and Hamas spells expansion, as far as I'm concerned. Netanyahu was adamantly opposed to Israels Gaza concession going so far as to resign his post as Finance Minister in protest. Hamas has done an extraordinary job of realizing his concerns.

Should Likud rise to power it's almost certain they'll take advantage of the Palestinian civil strife and deploy a real military presence in both Gaza and the west bank effectively turning back the clock and putting the situation right back to where it started before Sharon made his landmark concession. Very sad.

* The emboldened print in the above quoted article is my own emphasis *


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