The Collapse of the Israeli Labor Party Is Bad for Israel’s Democracy

With Israel’s next national election scheduled for April, the campaign season has kicked off with the usual reshuffling of political parties, as new parties form—two of them led by prominent former chiefs of the IDF—and established ones fracture. The most important and surprising development so far has been the decision of the Labor party’s leader, Avi Gabbay, to end its alliance with the centrist Hatnuah, led by Tzipi Livni. Since its formation in 2014, the Labor-Hatnuah bloc has been the most important opposition force in the Knesset. Amnon Lord believes its collapse will ultimately empower unelected elites:

Although there are historical reasons for the consistent decline in the party’s power, they are not the reason Labor is projected to make a single-digit showing in the April 9 election. The media, and [the influential left-wing newspaper] Haaretz in particular, are responsible for Labor’s collapse. Haaretz’s treatment of Labor’s now-deposed leader Isaac Herzog (currently the head of the Jewish Agency) was tantamount to character assassination. It is worth bearing in mind that the [Labor-Hatnuah bloc], may it rest in peace, still has 24 lawmakers in the Knesset [out of a total of 120] thanks to Herzog and Livni. . . . [But] the establishment left is controlled not by its voters but by external factors.

Should the justice system, God forbid, succeed in taking down Benjamin Netanyahu [as a result of the ongoing corruption investigation], the [unelected] establishment will determine policies in every field. The justice system will continue its self-transformation into a quasi-legislative branch. . . . The defense establishment will determine Israel’s defense policies. . . . Netanyahu is the only prime minister since David Ben-Gurion to succeed in steering Israel’s foreign and security policy in a different direction from the one being promoted by the defense establishment. Regulators, like those tasked with antitrust and the capital market, and the Bank of Israel, will determine economic policies.

The Likud party, with Netanyahu at its head, is the sole survivor of the elected and functioning political system. It is the last anchor for the expression of the will of the people.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli democracy, Israeli politics, Labor Party, Tzipi Livni

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat