Just as time was running out for Binyamin Netanyahu and his conservative Likud Party to form a government to rule Israel, there is a unlikely coalition with the politically liberal Labor Party. This highly unlikely coalition government, if it actually succeeds, would pit two long time former rival political elements in Israeli politics as partners with policies with little in common as allies. During the 1948 war that established Israel, Likud was an organization that involved many right wing extremists and even terrorists such Menachem Begin as opposed to moderates in Labor like Golda Meir.
The strange coalition between Likud and Labor will likely give Labor some key positions within the new Israeli government including over military matters, dramatically lessening the likelihood that Netanyahu would start a shooting war with Iran over their nuclear program. However, over domestic matters such as economic policies there should only be a huge divide over the issues that will be very difficult to paper over.
The Israeli Labor Party is a member of the Socialist International, a worldwide organization comprised of democratic leftist political parties. The United States is represented in this organization by the tiny Democratic Socialists Of America organization which represents the 1982 merger of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee and the New American Movement. The Americans are largely represented by intellectuals and writers, but do not offer candidates for public office, but instead compromise their economic and political values with the Democratic Party. However, it is deeply surprising to see the Israeli Labor Party find enough common ground to form a government with the right wing Likud Party.
How Labor can be involved in a coalition government with right winger Binyamin Netanyahu and not the centrist Kadima Party of moderate Tzipi Livni seems astonishing. However, rampant scandal among the past centrist Kadima government has made life very difficult for Livni, who managed to narrowly outpoll Likud in the last election, but had little opportunity to form a government as she had few other parties interested in joining her. Livni was not asked the form the next government of Israel for this reason.
The biggest question is whether the coalition government of Likud and Labor can even work. Can two parties with very different political agendas even be partners? Netanyahu has suddenly reversed himself from his position of only just days ago, now claiming that he would seek a permanent peace with the Palestinians. Only days before, Netanyahu claimed to oppose any two state solution to this ongoing dispute. Netanyahu even had great support among the American Christian right wing including strong supporters such as Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio because of his opposition to compromise with the Palestinians. Hagee admired that Netanyahu would never seek peace with them. To Hagee, all Muslims only seek religious radicalism.
It will be highly interesting to see how Netanyahu, the darling of the American far right, will somehow suddenly be transformed into some grand peace maker. But perhaps sensing a change in Washington and other political reality, Netanyahu is being backed into political reality. Or maybe not. Only time will tell.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!