In my political forecast for the year ahead, I see an Israeli unity government forming, Obama further appeasing Iran, and Abbas in the dock for war crimes.
One year ago today, I accurately forecasted in these pages that in 2014 President Obama would continue to fudge the nuclear issue with Iran. I also foresaw that Prime Minister Netanyahu would agree to John Kerry’s formula for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines but that Palestinian Authority leader Abbas would cut and run from the negotiations at the last moment. Easy predictions.
But I was wrong in expecting to see Manuel Trajtenberg join Moshe Kachlon’s new political party, instead of Labor; and in hoping/praying to see Natan Sharansky as President of Israel, instead of Ruby Rivlin.
Looking into my crystal ball for the year ahead, this is what I see:
* March elections: We’ll end up with five main blocs of more or less equal size (Likud, Labor, Bayit Yehudi, Haredim, and some sort of Kachlon-Lapid-Lieberman league), making for convoluted and unstable coalition politics. The only way to overcome this and craft a workable government will be establishment of a Netanyahu-Herzog national unity government. As usual, Netanyahu will tack to the right for election season, then back towards the center after the vote.
* American decline: In the final two years of his presidency, US President Barack Hussein Obama will be freer than ever to pursue his true ideological convictions in the fields of foreign and security policy; free to cement a complete re-orientation of U.S. policy in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
After all, over the past year, he has granted Putin gargantuan international victories, given Assad a new lease on life, re-legitimized Iran and re-energized the morally-bankrupt UN – while playing Hamlet about his own authority to strike Syria or defend Israel. He has made only a ridiculously-miniscule effort at confronting ISIS.
Obama very clearly believes that the humbling of America will bring healing to the world; that he will be leaving the world a better place by cutting America down to size, and allowing other “legitimate” actors, such as Iran, to assert their rights.
* Iran: One result of this weltanschauung is that Obama soon will cut whatever deals are furthermore necessary to postpone Teheran’s bomb production for a few years; two years to be exact – just long enough for Obama to depart the White House without having to confront the Iranians.
This suits Ayatollahs Khatami and Rouhani just fine. They continue getting sanctions relief while running out the clock on the West – all the while advancing their nuclear weapons research and missile production and maintaining full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.
Obama administration officials already are downplaying Iran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East (including its support of Hamas and Hizballah) and saying that US-Iranian relations have moved into “an effective state of detente.”
Without clear evidence of an Iranian “breakout” blitz, Israel is left with few options. Striking at Iran is not an option under these circumstances. You might say that Obama has bested Netanyahu on this issue.
* United Nations: Obama will continue to feign dismay at Israel’s increasing isolation in international forums like the UN Security Council, while in practice paving the way towards a global distancing from Israel. Alas, Obama will find himself “unable to manage” the many assaults on Israel or mount a sufficient defense of Israel – as he has warned.
The PA lost a vote this week, but the day is coming when Washington will sandbag Israel with a Security Council resolution demanding a timetable for Israeli withdrawals to specific borders and endorsing punitive measures unless Israel complies. I don’t think this far-fetched at all.
Obama is once again misplaying his hand with the Israeli public. Overwhelmingly, Israelis will back-up Netanyahu’s opposition to rapid establishment of a Palestinian state in the current jihadist regional circumstances, and they will push back at Obama’s attempts to halt the development of Jerusalem and divide the city.
* Abbas: The threats of this aging and ill Palestinian leader to collapse the PA and end security coordination with Israel should be dismissed. He won’t do it. The PA has no alternative to the current situation, except to get eaten alive by Hamas. To the failed negotiators John Kerry and Tzipi Livni, I say: The status quo in the West Bank is indeed “sustainable” for a while longer. It is certainly preferable to almost all the other near-term alternatives, for Israelis and Palestinians.
In any case, Abbas is washed-up as a peace partner, certainly since his establishment of a “unity” government with Hamas, the launching of his campaign of lies and incitement regarding the Temple Mount, and his lauding of terrorists who attacked Israelis in Jerusalem.
Everybody in Israel remembers Abbas’ monstrous speech at UN in September accusing Israel of “genocide” in Gaza, and swearing “never” to recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, and “never” to renounce the so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees.
If Abbas persists in his helter-skelter, burn-all-bridges appeals to world forums against Israel, he’ll yet find himself on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.
* And now for some dreams: In 2015, America will move its embassy to Jerusalem. One hundred thousand American Jews will come on aliyah. The Saudis will recognize Israel. The Palestinian Authority will renounce the so-called “right” of return (but be criticized by J Street for doing so). Massive building across Israel (including Judea and Samaria) will bring housing prices down by 50 percent. Haredim will enlist en masse in the IDF. Tzipi Livni will admit failure and retire from public life, instead of jumping to her fifth political party. Zahava Galon will start observing Shabbat and eating kosher.