It looks like Ehud Olmert has decided he needs an Israeli version of Hamas in his government to make absolutly sure no way is found to make peace with the Palestinians. Negotiations are under way to bring Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu
(Israel Our Home) party and its 11 seats into his cabinet in order to sure up his teetering government. There's really nothing like cozying up to the far right-nut-job-wing to show how tough you are. Lieberman will be the deputy PM and strategic threats minister, focusing on Iran.
There is still some question as to whether Olmert's government will survive this new arrival, as the more liberal parties are up in arms about this. Defence Minister Amir Peretz, is taking a lot of guff from his own Labour party. YNET
MK Shelly Yacimovich asked party members not to support the addition of Israel Our Home to the coalition. 'I turn to you not as a sector, but as an ideological arrow head in the Labor movement, and ask you to so 'No' to Lieberman. Having Lieberman in the government would mean having an extreme right economy, showing Bibi as a socialist in comparison, and an end to every dream of political moves and tough messages for Israeli Arabs,' she said."
Olmert, for his part frames, this deal as a way to create a stable government. He pointed out that since 1948 Israel has had 31 governments: "In other words, the average term of office for an Israeli government has, for a very long time, been less than two years. Is this reasonable? Is this evidence of stability? Does it promise continuity." [Well, there have been plenty of other more stable governments,like in Iran or Kazakhstan, but I don't know if that was particularly appealing...]
The problem with this arrangement is that as disunctional as the PA is, they have been trying to get themselves together enough to stop killing each other and make a deal with Israel. Bringing Lieberman into the Isreali government will render all of that null and void. There's no way crazy Hamas will even think about doing business with Abu Mazen, if he insists on working with Olmert and crazy Lieberman.
The NYT writes that this expansion of the cabinet means that "Mr. Olmert’s new government would span the ideological spectrum, including liberal, centrist, right-wing and religious parties. With such divergent factions in the government, Mr. Olmert would have little or no chance of building consensus about political solutions to the continuing struggles with the Palestinians." But why worry about that, when your political ass is on the line. The Palestinian thing will work it self out, one way or the other, right?
How bad is Lieberman, you ask? I don't know, I haven't heard much about him, except that he want to move Arab/Israelis out of Israel and take more occupied territories.
Serfing around a little, though, I see that Shai Tsur writes for the Guardian
that "Lieberman has a rather fearful reputation. Part of that comes from his bear-like physique and his creepy, Vladimir Putin-like emotionlessness. Although definitely rightwing politically, he is more of a brutalist than an ideologue. The issue of greater Israel is important to him (he is one of the few Knesset members who actually lives in a West Bank settlement), but less important than issues of demography."
Whereas other Israeli right-wing parties want all Arabs thrown out of Israel, Lieberman proposses just redrawing a few maps and
the Arabs out of Israel. Sounds fairly reasonable (ff you're nuts), but then there's the whole killing Arab-MKs-who-met-with-Hamas-thing.
Back in May, according to I'lam
"Lieberman expressed the hope that Arab legislators who met with the Hamas leadership be put on trial and executed 'exactly like Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials and collaborators under the Vichy regime in France'. He urged: 'All those who collaborate with terror from within this House [the Knesset] must face sentencing.' He included in the list Arab MKs who meet members of Hamas, including those now in the Palestinian government, those who travel to Lebanon, and those who commemorate the Nakba instead of Independence Day."
Just when you think things can't get any worse in the Middle East they do, it never fails.