May 4, 2012

Israel Moves Up Election 1 Year Early: War on the Horizon?

A fascinating move by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.  Moving the elections up, elections that you are supposedly scheduled to win with a 'strong mandate' for action against the threat of Iran.  The speculation is that he might have more flexibility to take action on Iran should he have the support of the Israeli people while the US president is facing a potential re-election loss.  Given the president's political expedient decision making, what would happen if he then came out in complete defense of Israel and pledged a full out war against anyone who would attack Israel? That could play well with potential swing voters.  Another war, more chaos, more opportunity. 

Is Netanyahu Holding Elections Early So He Can Attack Iran?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to announce this Sunday that he will hold elections in Israel a year early, on September 4 of this year. This move has prompted at least one of Israel’s major commentators to speculate that Netanyahu might have more than just a parliamentary majority in his sights.

Ammon Abramovich, one of the best-known Israeli commentators on the popular Channel 2 news station, suggested that Netanyahu may, in fact, be calling the election early so that he can come back to power with a decisive governing majority while President Obama is still hamstrung by elections here in the United States, and thus powerless to stop him from attacking Iran. The Times of Israel explains the reasoning behind this alarming prediction:

 Abramovich said that the dramatic decision to bring the elections forward relates to Iran. After the September elections, which all polls show Netanyahu winning easily, he will head a transition government for several weeks while a new coalition is formed. During that period, Netanyahu “will not be beholden to the voters,” and will be free to take decisions on Iran that many Israelis might not support, Abramovich said.

Furthermore, he will still have his trusted Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, at his side. Barak is seen as unlikely to fare well in the elections, and may not even retain his Knesset seat, but would retain the defense portfolio until a new coalition is formed.

And finally, said Abramovich, the September-October period would see Obama, who has publicly urged more patience in allowing diplomacy and sanctions to have their impact on Iran, in the final stages of the presidential election campaign, with a consequent reduced capacity to try to pressure Israel into holding off military intervention.

Obama, “on the eve of elections, won’t dare criticize Israel,” said Abramovich. From Netanyahu’s point of view, “the conditions would be fantastic.”

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given some credence to this theory with this ominous quote regarding Iran: “The moment of truth is approaching.”

That’s not to say that Israel has no concerns about war with Iran – the country is small enough that the fallout from just one nuclear bomb being dropped would do serious, possibly fatal damage, which has led some Israeli officials to label the country a “one bomb state.” Clearly, if Netanyahu is planning to attack Iran, this will factor into his calculations, and a decision to attack would suggest that he expects far more than one bomb to be involved if he doesn’t act. We’ll be keeping an eye on this story.

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