Monday, 23 May 2016

Shake-up in Israeli politics prompts 'seeds of fascism' warning


A military affairs commentator interrupts his broadcast to deliver a monologue: I'm alarmed by what's happening in Israel, he says, I think my children should leave.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warns of "the seeds of fascism". Moshe Arens, who served as defense minister three times, sees it as a turning point in Israeli politics and expects it to cause a "political earthquake".

The past five days have produced tumult in Israeli politics, since conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unexpectedly turned his back on a deal to bring the center-left into his coalition and instead joined hands with far-right nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, one of his most virulent critics.

Lieberman, a West Bank settler, wants to be defense minister. So on Friday, Netanyahu's former ally and confidant, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, resigned and quit Netanyahu's Likud party in disgust.

After a weekend to digest the developments, which are expected to be finalised in an agreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman on Monday to form the most right-wing government in Israel's 68-year-old history, commentators have tried to put it in perspective and found themselves alarmed.

Arens, who has served as defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, and is one of Netanyahu's early political mentors, said the machinations would have far-reaching repercussions.

"Yaalon's ouster is likely to be a turning point in Israel's political history," he wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. "A political earthquake is in the offing. It may take a little time, but it is coming. The law of unforeseen consequences is at work."

The decision to jettison Yaalon in favor of Lieberman was all too much for Roni Daniel, a veteran military affairs commentator on Channel 2.

"I cannot urge my children to stay here, because it is a place that is not nice to be in," he said in his monologue, going on to name a number of far-right politicians. more

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