Livni’s Ambition

by Brien Jackson

God help me, I agree with Noah Pollack:

What is not a given is the behavior of Tzipi Livni, who refuses to join a national-unity government despite many entreaties and the promise of ample political rewards. Her strategy is perfectly defensible as a matter of sterile power-calculation, but it is appalling from the perspective of national leadership, when the country is faced with profound security crises. By refusing to join Bibi’s coalition, Livni is ensuring that his government will be assembled from small parties, each of which will extract everything they possibly can in exchange for their support. This process will also, as in the case of Avigdor Lieberman, bring foolish politicians into roles of international prominence. The idea is to make the government as unstable, unproductive, and short-lived as possible.

He goes on to bring up Iran and Hezbollah and the other sorts of things you’d expect him to bring up, but this point is sound enough. Tzipi Livni is playing a pretty crass game, at the moment. She knows Bibi has the mandates to put a government together, but that those mandates come from the extreme right wing of Israeli politics. As such, she knows that such a government would ultimately be quite an embarrassment to Bibi, articularly in Europe, but also, potentially, in the United States. But, by extension, such a government would also be bad for Israel. And a government composed of right-wing interests, with Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister no less, is unlikelyto be able to make very many gains on any front relating to security, or other Israeli national interests. What Livni is betting on is the notion that Bibi would rather take a junior position in a Kadima led government than lead a right-wing government himself, or that such a government could not survive very long. The former is a rather naive way to look at political actors, the latter is a very crass, and dangerous, way to approach government in one of the world’s most delicate situations.

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