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The Hangover


The dust is still settling on the last-minute coalition deal that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu secured with Habayit Hayehudi, allowing him to inform President Reuven Rivlin that he had managed to form a government before the deadline expired.

With the coalition partners all signed up – Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, Kulanu, United Torah Judaism – and with those parties having been promised certain ministries, attention now turns to the Likud and the remaining portfolios. Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom both lead with 'tension within Likud' as their main headline, explaining that the remaining dozen or so ministries will be keenly fought over by more than 20 possible candidates. Among the key positions that Netanyahu still has to fill are defense, foreign affairs, interior, intelligence and internal security. Some of these positions have been sort-of promised to strategic allies – Moshe Ya'alon, for example, is expected to remain as defense minister – and both papers say that Likudniks are disappointed with the slim pickings that Netanyahu has left them.

Indeed, several Likud MKs have already found a way to put their leader under pressure ahead of next week's swearing in of the new government. With the Knesset due to vote next Monday on a bill to expand the maximum number of ministers, which was limited following a demand by Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid in the last government, several Likud MKs are threatening not to support the bill unless they are expressly told by Netanyahu what positions they will receive, according to a report on Channel 2 News on Thursday night.

Since the bill constitutes an amendment to a Basic Law, it will require a Knesset majority of 61 votes in favor to pass. Netanyahu's coalition government consists of exactly 61 MKs, meaning he will need every vote. And the prime minister is exerting pressure on Likud MKs to vote for the bill by postponing his announcement of how the ministerial positions will be distributed until after the vote.

Channel 10 News reports that Negev and Galilee Minister Silvan Shalom is threatening not to support the bill unless he is appointed foreign minister, saying if he doesn't receive it 'I'm out,' possibly indicating he will not support either the bill or the government. Ministers Gilad Erdan and Yuval Steinitz also reportedly are demanding the foreign affairs portfolio, with Netanyahu said to be inclined to appoint Erdan as internal security minister instead. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Netanyahu is planning to keep the foreign affairs post for himself – or for Isaac Herzog, if the Zionist Union eventually agrees to join the coalition.

In its role as mouthpiece for Netanyahu, Israel Hayom quotes unnamed Likud insiders who reject these threats from within the Likud. 'Anyone who threatens, knows that these are idle threats. No one is going to topple the government,' the sources said.

Speaking on Thursday night at a ceremony marking 70 years since the defeat of the Nazis, Netanyahu said that the government he will present next week will face many challenges in many spheres: security, diplomacy, economics and social issues. Netanyahu said the greatest challenge of all is Iran's effort to acquire nuclear arms, while launching a terror front in the Middle East surrounding Israel's borders.

U.S. President Barak Obama, meanwhile, congratulated Netanyahu and the people of Israel on their new government. In a statement from the White House, Obama wrote that he is 'looking forward to working with the new Israeli government.' The statement also emphasized Washington's 'close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep abiding partnership between both countries.' The statement continued, 'We also look forward to continuing consultations on a range of regional issues including international negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and the importance of pursuing a two-state solution.'

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, for his part, said that after a new Israeli government has been sworn in he will investigate with Netanyahu whether there are 'realistic options' for a return to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. In a statement, Ban also expressed concern over the recent announcement by Israeli authorities of plans to build 900 new housing units in east Jerusalem. The White House also condemned the plan to build in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, saying it is damaging to efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In other news, all the papers report that the U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly passed legislation giving Congress the right to review and perhaps even reject a nuclear deal with Iran, the culmination of weeks of wrangling over how to hold Tehran to account. The bill passed 98-1 after overcoming initial objections from Obama. It comes amid intense negotiations between world powers and Iran on a nuclear deal.

Republican Tom Cotton was the lone member voting in opposition to legislation that would give lawmakers at least 30 days to review any final Iran accord. If the bill becomes law, it would also prevent President Obama from easing economic sanctions against Tehran during the review period. The legislation would also compel the president to assert to Congress every 90 days that Iran was complying with the deal. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where it has the support of the chamber's Republican leaders. A White House spokesman said that President Obama has said he would sign the legislation in its current form.


THE HANGOVER: Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Nahum Barnea says that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's new government may not even have been officially installed yet – but already people are talking about its inevitable demise.

"Any time that Ariel Sharon found his natural maliciousness clashing with his sense of national responsibility, he would claim that he 'wouldn't get any pleasure from this funeral.' If Sharon were with us today, he would no doubt say something similar in response to the establishment of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's fourth government.

Over the course of Israel's 67 years of independence, we have had all kinds of governments: narrow, broad, successful, failed, short-lived and those that lasted their full term. Most of them were only established after complex negotiations and countless crises. Irrespective of events leading up to their establishment and irrespective of events that followed, these governments had one magical evening of celebration – like a couple on their wedding night. The comparison between a coalition deal and a nuptial agreement is not coincidental: they both end with an embrace between the signatories, with the families singing and dancing, with a group photograph of everyone positively glowing with joy for posterity. In political life, there is nothing that more resembles a wedding than the signing of a coalition deal.

But the enthusiasm, the optimism, the freshness, sometimes even the innocence, with which previous coalition governments were installed is conspicuously missing this time. Israel's 34th government is beginning its life with a sense that it has no horizon, no future. There was precious little talk this week in political circles about weddings and a lot of speculation about divorce: when, how and at what cost. Netanyahu's new government has not yet been officially established, and already its end is in sight. It reminds me of the famous Israeli supermodel who got married in order to avoid being drafted into the IDF: her wedding was also held in the shadow of a rapidly approaching deadline, just like the wedding between Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett is.

Indeed, David Shimron – the Netanyahu family's private lawyer and the man who represented the Likud family at the coalition negotiations – was spotted early this week at the President's Residence, trying to ascertain whether, perhaps, President Reuven Rivlin would agree to extend the deadline that the law set for the establishment of a new government. Instead of the deadline expiring on Wednesday at midnight, Shimron sought an extension until Thursday at midnight. In order to justify this, he used a special counting system that only attorneys, it seems, can understand. It was pathetic. Rivlin rejected the proposal out of hand: the law is the law, he said. Rivlin has already stretched the law as far as it can go without breaking it by agreeing to wait until midnight, despite the fact that, by the letter of the law, the negotiations should have ended by 5 o'clock in the afternoon – the time that Netanyahu was asked, way back on March 25, by the president to form the next government.

In the meantime, Netanyahu and Bennett played a game of Russian roulette. They both held the gun to their own heads. Bennett risked being accused of thwarting the establishment of a right-wing government and paving the way for Isaac Herzog to form an alternative coalition; Netanyahu risked having to go back to the president and inform him that he had failed to build a coalition. Within Habayit Hayehudi, they were hard at work on a fall-back plan: if they failed to reach an agreement with Netanyahu, they would propose that the president ask a different member of the Likud to form the next government – Moshe Ya'alon, Silvan Shalom or anyone that the Likud selected, in fact. Netanyahu did not have a contingency plan. His threat – that he would ask Herzog to join his government – was not taken seriously. There was no way that the prime minister could have made good on this threat in the day or two before his deadline expired. Left without any choice, Netanyahu capitulated. He swallowed all the bitter pills that Bennett cooked up – primarily appointing Ayelet Shaked as justice minister. That was a knockout victory for Bennett.

Nonetheless, if I were Naftali Bennett, I wouldn't be celebrating too hard. In Israeli politics, victory is just a prelude to a future defeat. It's a question of hubris, of compensation and of justice. This is what prevents the political system from becoming unbalanced. If Bennett has not learned the lesson from his outstanding success of two years ago, which led to the resounding failure at the last election; then he has learned nothing. Netanyahu's most pressing agenda item for his new government will be to find a way to get Bennett and his party out of office. Forget Iran and the Palestinians: Netanyahu's new main enemy is a domestic one.

Netanyahu has been in this situation several times during his long political career. It took him time to understand that failure is not the end of the world: one doesn't need to resign and one doesn't need to pack one's things and bow off the political stage. Instead, one girds one's loins and starts afresh. It is unclear whether Netanyahu has learned the corollary of this lesson, that victory can be a disappointment, a hollow and treacherous thing. On March 17, Netanyahu cannibalized votes from other right-wing parties. He was giddy with victory. He was certain that the whole world would say 'Amen' to him – from Moshe Kahlon to Barack Obama. This week, Netanyahu finally understood what it means to wake up with a terrible hangover."



WAITING FOR LABOR: Writing in Israel Hayom, Mati Tuchfeld says that, by playing hardball in the coalition negotiations, Naftali Bennett lost the support of Likudniks – many of whom would now prefer to see the Zionist Union in the government instead of Habayit Hayehudi.

"One of the outcomes of the tough and ultimately successful coalition negotiations that Naftali Bennett conducted was that he turned Likudniks against him. Six weeks ago, they all wanted Habayit Hayehudi in the coalition; now many of them would prefer to see Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union sitting next to the Likud in government.

In the immediate aftermath of the March 17 election, many Likud members were afraid that Netanyahu would prefer to form a broader government, with Herzog, rather than a more homogeneously right-wing government with Bennett. They were delighted when the prime minister opted to go with Bennett. The idea that the fate of a right-leaning government would be in the hands of Herzog, Tzipi Livni and their colleagues on the left was anathema to them. They were mightily relieved when Netanyahu chose Habayit Hayehudi over the Zionist Union.

Now, however, they've changed their tune. If Netanyahu decides, a few months down the line, to boot Habayit Hayehudi from his coalition and to bring in Labor instead, they will give him a standing ovation. No one will say as much in open, but Bennett – who could have used Likudniks as his insurance policy against Netanyahu's capriciousness – has lost their support because of his uncontrollable greed for ministerial positions and concessions in the final stretch of the coalition negotiations.

Netanyahu’s negotiating strategy – stringing everyone along until the deadline was imminent – did not prove itself to be effective. Instead of his coalition partners dropping their demands as time elapsed, they added more demands on a daily basis.

With the benefit of hindsight, where everyone has 20:20 vision, we can now say that if Netanyahu had conducted short and to-the-point negotiations, he could have taken advantage of the shock that descended on the political system over Likud's stunning victory to form a government at a much cheaper price. But after six weeks of negotiations, the glow has faded from his victory; all of the parties he was negotiating with saw what other coalition partners were being promised – and, in the end, the Likud has been left with plenty of ministers – but few of the really important ones.

I am not convinced that, in real time, Netanyahu could have avoided all of the pitfalls. The Likud negotiating team was made up of people with plenty of experience in solving political conundrums. Irrespective of how the negotiating process ended, no one can say that Netanyahu made a mistake by naming them to his team.

One of the key problems in these coalition negotiations was that there was no real alternative. Even though Likud won 30 seats in the Knesset, it was clear that the Zionist Union was out of the picture, as was Yair Lapid. Meretz was so far beyond the pale that no one even mentioned it. The other parties knew that this was the case and they took full advantage of the situation.

That's how Moshe Kahlon managed not only to snare the Finance Ministry, but another medium-sized ministry – the Housing Ministry – and, at the same time, to split the authority of the Interior Minister. Several important functions that were once the domain of the interior minister have now been transferred to him. And since we all know that the sight of food increases the appetite, Aryeh Deri demanded compensation for losing the Interior Ministry to an as-yet unknown Likudnik, and Bennett demanded no less than the Foreign Minister or the Defense Ministry."



A NEW STUMBLING BLOCK: Writing in Maariv, Shlomo Shamir comments on the current state of negotiations between Iran and the six world powers, and says that the automatic re-imposition of sanctions if the Islamic Republic violates the agreement is the new stumbling block.

"Negotiations between Iran and the six world powers, who are working to turn their framework agreement into a final deal, are continuing at full steam ahead. The problem is not just the number of centrifuges that Iran will be allowed to operate or the extent and nature of the inspections. The latest issue to merge as the main stumbling block is the American demand that the agreement not be dependent in the future on any independent moves by Russia and/or China.

On Wednesday, another round of discussions between the Iranian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) came to an end. The discussions, which lasted almost a week, were held on the sidelines of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty conference and will continue next week in Vienna.

According to diplomatic sources, the United States and its Western allies have no particular problem renewing sanctions that were initiated and imposed against Iran in a unilateral manner and bypassing the Security Council. But the United States and the other world powers want to ensure ahead of time that the cancelling of the UN sanctions against Iran will be reversible and that they will have the authority to impose them again if needed.

The Americans insist that the phrasing of the final agreement include a special clause that ensures that, if Iran violates the terms of the deal or if it becomes clear that it is not abiding by its commitments, the sanctions will be imposed afresh and that this happens automatically, without the need for a new Security Council resolution – since this would give Russia and China the chance to use their power of veto to prevent sanctions being re-imposed.

The Americans are concerned that, just as Russia opposed international interference in the Syrian Civil War, which prevents the Security Council from taking any operative measures to implement a resolution calling for Bashar Assad to be removed from power, Moscow will side with Iran and, even if the Islamic Republic violates the agreement, will not allow the Security Council to re-impose sanctions.

Speaking this week, the American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said that Washington wants an agreement 'that doesn't require Russian and Chinese support or a vote for snapback… because we are in a different world in 2015 than we were when the sanctions architecture was put in place.' According to officials at the UN headquarters in New York, this American demand, which has the support of the Western members of the P5+1, will not be welcomed in Moscow and could lead to the Russians dragging their feet over the final stage of negotiations. Given that there is a June 30 deadline looming, this would be bad news for the United States. One senior Western diplomat told me that, 'the mood in the Kremlin today is not exactly pro-American.'

There are deeply contradictory assessments currently doing the rounds in New York regarding the outcome of the current talks. The Iranians have been making optimistic noises. Araghchi said this week that, 'the atmosphere at the talks was good and there is every chance of reaching a deal by June 30.'

In contrast, Western sources involved in the talks said this week that, 'the sides are still far from an agreement.' One of the main reasons for this is the issue of sanctions and differences of opinion over the nature and role of the international inspectors."



USEFUL IDIOTS: Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Ben-Dror Yemini accuses 'Breaking the Silence' – the group which this week published damning testimony from soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge – of deception.

"The report released by Breaking the Silence is already making waves around the world. Isn't it simply wonderful to preach human rights? It's a position in high demand. The thing is, we're dealing here with another piece of major deception, another link in the chain of efforts to turn Israel into a living monster and help the BDS campaign.

Why deception? First, when Israel is accused of harming civilians, or when people talk about proportionality, one has to ask: What are the proportions? It turns out there aren't any – and not by chance either. Because every comparative review definitively shows that Israel causes less civilian casualties than those witnessed on other similar battlefields. Yes, there have been reports here and there about extensive civilian casualties elsewhere. But no one has launched a global campaign. No one has run around university campuses in the United States or Europe to distribute horror stories about anomalous incidents involving British, American or NATO forces. But the activists from Breaking the Silence do the job with glee.

Second, a country like Britain also has anti-war organizations. But no foreign country supports exposing the testimonies of British troops who have returned from conflict zones. So why the hell does Britain allow itself to finance Breaking the Silence? Why do the British think their dual morality is morality?

Third, four other countries – Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark – are funding a Ramallah-based organization, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, which also aids Breaking the Silence. HRIHL funds a series of groups such as Al-Haq, BADIL, Al-Mizan and others, which are a part of the BDS campaign network. We're not dealing with criticism of Israel, but an ideology that opposes the very existence of Israel. This is the ideological environment of Breaking the Silence report.

Fourth, the organization refuses to reveal the identities of the complainants, despite the fact that such individuals have never been taken to task for speaking out. The Israel Defense Forces wants to review the testimonies and investigate the claims, but the organization won’t budge. There's no way of verifying or refuting the testimonies. So how can they be taken seriously?

Fifth, the IDF is not perfect, and not all IDF soldiers are angels. Some of the claims may be true. There are anomalies – in every army in the world and on every battlefield. But when these deviations from the norm are put on display, without any background context, without proof, without a comparative picture, without presenting the fact that a Hamas-issued document ordered the organization's fighters to take cover among the civilian population, hide in population centers, the report released by Breaking the Silence is not merely deception; it's manipulation too.

'Blessings to all the commissions, individuals, civil society groups and human rights organizations that worked to break the siege on Gaza and who fought against the fence and the settlements. Moreover, we bear in mind those liberals of the world who stood by our cause and against the Zionist war on our land,' Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared in a speech in October 2013. In the same speech, Haniyeh made clear that he opposes any political settlement, and that the struggle is for 'all of Palestine.' Legend has it that Vladimir Lenin delivered a similar speech about his followers. But he didn't call them human rights activists; he called them by their true name – useful idiots."



MIDAS NO MORE: Writing in Haaretz, Yoel Marcus says that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems to have lost his political Midas touch, judging by the mess he's made of the coalition negotiations.

"What happened to Binyamin Netanyahu, the campaigner who, within a matter of hours at the end of the March Knesset election campaign, managed to garner 30 seats for his Likud party? But then in the 35 days that he had at his disposal, he barely scraped through forming a government in the time allotted. What happened to his prowess? If that’s how he runs his small shop, how can he be trusted when he is negotiating with the world’s great powers? How can such a victor as he sees himself trip himself up like that? How did he get into a situation in which not only can he not stand his Likud party colleagues, they cannot stand him either?

Bibi had a team that conducted the coalition negotiations for him. It was headed by attorney David Shimron, who has also been his emissary in handling sensitive matters around the world, but it didn’t help. And now, even after informing President Reuven Rivlin that he had accomplished the task of forming a government, Netanyahu might be told what former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said at the time about the Oslo Accord – that it was as full of holes as Swiss cheese.

Netanyahu distributed cabinet portfolios in a disproportionate manner, not, for example, providing a cabinet post to coalition partners in a ratio reflecting every three or four Knesset seats held by the coalition parties. One might jokingly suggest that the small parties got more cabinet posts than they have Knesset seats.

And how did Bibi get himself to a point in which after he had Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman around the prime minister’s little finger, the situation was actually reversed and Lieberman crossed over to the opposition? And why did Bibi refuse to give Yisrael Beiteinu MK Orli Levi-Abekasis the chairmanship of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee? If Bibi had given the task to her father – none other than former Likud minister David Levy, who for 48 hours was a candidate for president – it would have been accomplished within 24 hours.

Does anyone know where Bibi disappeared to over the course of the weeks that he had to form a government? Is it possible that his absence from the negotiations was due to his focus at the time on the critical matter of how to trip up Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon as finance minister, as Netanyahu did with his predecessor, Yair Lapid? The truth is that the answers are not that important. What is important is that Bibi has put together a very bad government, a government in retreat, withdrawing in every sphere except withdrawal from the West Bank. There is a total absence of anything innovative. Bibi wants to go after the media and harm the powers of the Supreme Court – and then there is the matter of legislation negatively affecting Israeli Arabs.

Lieberman’s refusal to join Bibi’s coalition is the best thing that has happened to the country. What was Lieberman’s motive? He simply can’t stand Bibi, and the truth is, that’s understandable. Lieberman calls Bibi a waffler on policy, accusing him of making concessions to the Arabs and deeming him a leader who can be pressured. All of that is correct.

It’s not just Bibi. Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett is also in a bind with his own supporters. And on his turf, the battles are never-ending too, with everyone doing battle against the others’ plans. It’s not a cabinet. It’s a fire station.

Okay, so a peace cabinet this will not be in any event, but even in other policy sectors, Bibi’s influence will be close to nil. He is like a prime minister who has been shorn of his power. So at night he dreams of Bougie – Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog. At the moment, Bougie is the guardian angel. If Bibi makes Bougie an offer that is hard to refuse, Herzog would probably not say no. Anyone who thinks Herzog’s No. 2 in the Zionist Union, Tzipi Livni, would veto such a move would be mistaken. In politics, there are no grudges, just political interests.

The problem is that this puts Bibi in an embarrassing situation. A coalition of a bare minimum of 61 seats rather than the 67 he anticipated is like a gun in the first act of a play. Kahlon had said that he wouldn’t sit in a coalition of 61. So he said it. Even though Bennett threatened not to sit in a government if his party colleague Ayelet Shaked had not been given the post of justice minister, he would have done so in the end. At any price. He didn’t have a real alternative. It was all talk. Bennett’s luck is that it is true what they say about Bibi: He can be pressured, to the greatest extent possible. The minute that he is caught in an embarrassing political situation, he is forced to pay the full political price. As they say in the vernacular, he takes the hit."



THE PALESTINIANS AND THE ELECTION: In its editorial on Friday, The Jerusalem Post takes issue with Saeb Erekat's dismissal of the new Israeli government as 'anti-peace,' saying that, instead of casting aspersions on the Israeli coalition, the senior Palestinian official should look to rectify the problems with Palestinian democracy.

"A 'government of war which will be against peace and stability in our region' was the way chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat chose to describe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly formed narrow coalition.

This was hardly an auspicious start to renewing relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Erekat does not surprise with his criticism, made to an AFP reporter Thursday, but he does open himself up to painful comparisons with his Palestinian government.

Disparage it as you will, our incoming government came into being through a fair, democratic process; it represents the will of the majority of Israeli voters; and it is a legitimate political leadership. The same cannot be said about Erekat and his political cronies in the PA.

Take Mahmoud Abbas, for instance. Among the hats he wears, which include chairman of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas also calls himself the second president of the 'State of Palestine,' taking over from the late Yasser Arafat. He was sworn in as president of the 'State of Palestine' on May 8, 2005 – exactly 10 years ago. But what was supposed to be a four-year term has stretched to a full decade. Due to the split between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fateh on the West Bank, Palestinians have failed to muster the requisite unity to hold a presidential election since 2005 or a national election since 2006.

Israel has held four completely democratic and transparent national elections during that time. So while Israel’s governments might not be to the liking of Palestinian politicians like Erekat, they can make the claim to represent their voters, a claim that Abbas, Erekat and other PA politicians cannot make.

A deal signed with Israel would be binding and legitimate. A deal signed with Abbas and Erekat would not. Promoters of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal recognize this crucial flaw. Palestinians who have been left indifferent and apathetic to a political leadership have as well. Both have called on Fateh and Hamas to put aside their differences and hold elections.

This suggestion was made most recently and prominently by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, both members of 'The Elders,' a dozen veteran human rights activists first brought together in Johannesburg in 2007 by Nelson Mandela and Desmund Tutu.

But conducting elections without first putting in place basic democratic institutions – such as a free press, governmental transparency, human rights, religious freedom and an independent judiciary – can be disastrous. Egypt provides a good example of the dangers of a premature election, when the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power and proceeded to undermine the very democracy that empowered it in the first place.

Palestinians face similar risks. As Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh points out, 'free and democratic elections are the last thing the Palestinians need now,' because they would most likely be won by Hamas. That’s what happened in January 2006. An ominous sign of the direction political winds are blowing was provided recently by the crushing victory of the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc in the student council election of Bir Zeit University, just north of Ramallah.

This state of affairs is not so much about Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians (though alarming numbers do support this anti-Semitic, fundamentalist, terrorist organization) as it is about the PA’s corruption, cronyism, incompetence, and repression of critics that have alienated so many Palestinians.

Instead of pressuring the Palestinians to hold new elections, well-wishers like The Elders should be demanding the sort of accountability and transparency that would put an end to the PA’s kleptocracy. They should be championing human rights for women and religious minorities – particularly in Gaza – and freedom of the press. They should also urge the PA to allow the emergence of new leaders who will replace the corrupt old guard.

Palestinian critics of Israel’s incoming government like Erekat are in need of a dose of a little self-criticism. Instead of being so quick to point out Israel’s imperfections, Erekat and others should focus instead on Palestinian politics’ many pathologies.

Then again, bashing Israel is much easier."




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