From JPost, "Burning Issue #9", 31/10/06 ....
What effect, if any, will the entry of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party into the government have on the peace process and the prospects of renewing negotiations with the Palestinians?
Contributions by Daniel Pipes, Jonathan Tobin, Barbara Sofer, Elliot Jager, Calev Ben-David, Michael Freund, MJ Rosenberg, Daniel Doron, Jonathan Rosenblum, Shmuel Katz, Gershon Baskin and Shlomo Avineri....
.... Lieberman's position in the cabinet, especially in a ministerial role that seems a strictly advisory position on an issue (Iran) in which there is across-the-board consensus, will have no impact whatsoever on an already stalled diplomatic process.
... however questionable some of his policies, give him credit for choosing to focus his own efforts on what is unquestionably Israel's most dire existential threat, the prospect that Mahmoud Ahmadinijad will have his finger on a nuclear trigger.
I don't think Lieberman's entry into the government will much affect the peace process. ...
...The main effect of Lieberman's new role will be the damage it does to Israel's image abroad. Here in the US, Israel's core of supporters continues to dwindle with young Jews being the least emotionally committed to Israel. ...
The entry of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party into the coalition government will have no effect on the peace process for the simple reason that there is no peace process.
Israel is surrounded by enemies who are busy arming for the next round of confrontation - chief among them Hamas. So to speak of a "peace process" at this point is akin to little more than wishful thinking.
What is, however, truly disconcerting about the entry of Mr. Lieberman into the government is the McCarthyism of the Left that it has engendered in its wake, as various figures seek to outdo each other in demeaning and delegitimizing him and his party.
Indeed, people such as outgoing Minister Ophir Pines-Paz of the Labor party have reached new lows of hypocrisy in labeling Lieberman a "racist". After all, Paz-Pines and his comrades were among the most outspoken supporters of expelling people from Gaza last year based solely on their national, ethnic and religious identity. What could possibly be more racist than to say that Jews should not be allowed to live in a certain area because they are Jews?
So for Paz-Pines and others like him to now invoke the "race card" in denouncing Mr. Lieberman is as absurd as it is shameful.
Every time anything happens in Israel, Israelis always seem to ask themselves and everyone else who will listen, how will this affect the peace process?
...Israel can veer left or right. Its governments can dedicate themselves to withdrawal or to standing pat but the notion that either stance has much to do with progress towards peace is fallacious. It is the Palestinians, and the Arab world in general, that have the power to decide for peace or war, not the Israelis. The past 13 years since the Oslo debacle have proved this.
No concession or demonstrated expression of goodwill will convince Palestinians to make peace if they believe it violates their sensibilities, as it apparently does. And so long as the political and religious culture of the Palestinians dictates that the existence of Israel, within any borders and under any leadership, is the source of tension, then there will be no real progress toward peace.
...it is hubris for Israelis to imagine that the lack of peace can be blamed on their own behavior or even the composition of their cabinet.
His entry will have no effect. Lieberman or no Lieberman, there is little that can be done to facilitate fruitful negotiations. The mantra happens to be true: There is no Palestinian partner....
What peace process is that which Lieberman might disturb? With the level of hostility of our enemies, the last on my list of worries is that we can't make peace. This isn't a neighborhood for wimps....
If anything real comes along, none of our politicians is going to miss the opportunity to make peace. The credibility of those dangling so-called peace offerings has to be called into question. I think Lieberman would be an excellent negotiator.
Since there are hardly any chances for a meaningful peace process in the foreseeable future, Lieberman's entry into the government will have very little impact on it. But given his authoritarian and strident views, his presence in the government will do enormous harm to the international standing of Israel, embarrass Israel's friends, make many Jews abroad uncomfortable and further alienate Israeli Arabs....
There is no peace process to speak of. ....Peretz now has an opportunity to move ahead with a peace process and get rid of Lieberman at the same time - it is quite simple - all Peretz needs to do is to implement the decisions of the government and the Talya Sasson report and to dismantle the dozens of illegal outposts. This would send a clear message that the rule of law is above the rule of the settlers, it would push Lieberman out of the government and would begin a process that could help rebuild a partnership with the Palestinians.
Perhaps Leiberman's presence on the government will act as a stimulant to do the right thing.
Arab-Israeli diplomacy has been effectively moribund since the Barak and Clinton terms simultaneously expired in early 2001...One consistency underlying Ariel Sharon's deeply inconsistent foreign policy was his lack of interest in negotiating with Arabs, an attitude subsequently inherited by the Olmert government.
In brief, there was minimal Israeli inclination to return to the bargaining table even before Yisrael Beitenu joined the governing coalition. Now that Yisrael Beitenu has a say in making Israeli policy, the prospect of negotiations is even more remote.
And a personal anecdote: Just before publishing my article, "Israel's Wayward Prime Ministers" in June 2004, I had a chance to present its thesis to Avigdor Lieberman, that four Israeli prime ministers in a row - Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon - had deceived the electorate by promising while campaigning to be tough with the Arabs and then, when in office, adopting a unexpectedly concessionary approach. To this, Lieberman replied, "Not me, not when I become prime minister."
I call our new Deputy Prime Minister 'Loose Cannon Lieberman.' But I don't think his entry into the government will much affect Ehud Olmert's policies ... As for "peace process" - there is no such thing and never was.
I have the sense that Lieberman has not got clear right-wing attitudes. He's certainly not a Jabotinskyite with as clear ideology. I don't think he has the intellectual wherewithal to be convincing at the Cabinet. But the situation may yet change. We shall see.
Shmuel Katz was a leader of the Irgun, a member of the first Knesset and a biographer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.
The entrance of Avigdor Lieberman into the government will not make one iota of difference with respect to the peace process with the Palestinians. Indeed the question is based on two flawed premises: (1) that there is a peace process with the Palestinians, if by peace process we mean a process that could actually result in some peace agreement being signed that has some reasonable chance of being adhered to; and (2) that Israeli actions can do much, in the current climate of Palestinian public opinion, to create such a process.
As long as 67% of Palestinians support Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel, and almost equally large majorities support rocket attacks on Israeli cities and suicide bombings directed at Israeli citizens, and an even larger percentage support the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, there can be no process.
When will the possibility for such a process exist? When Palestinians start spending the unparalleled largesse of the international community on development projects, tearing down refugee camps, etc., rather than on guns and bullets and maintaining 50,000 armed men in their various "security" services - in short, when they show more interest in creating their own state and in their own material advance than they do in destroying Israel.
In the meantime, the only thing the Israeli government - any government, whether with Lieberman or without - is to wait, and continue to act forcefully to prevent Gaza or the West Bank from developing into the next Hizbullahlands.
What peace process? Are we speaking of the Machiavelian importation of a terrorist organization from Tunisia so that it, and its associated gangsters, could have a free hand do the dirty job against Hamas that Israel lacked the stomach to do? Are we referring to the bloody Oslo process as a "peace process"?
Or do we recall that before Oslo we actually had a gradual but very promising, real peace process developing, which our genius politicians destroyed by insisting on a "political solution"?
True, before Oslo we did not have a piece of paper announcing the advent of peace. But we did have hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers making such a good living in Israel - and many thousand of Israelis securely shopping and eating in Arab towns - that Arab standard of living skyrocketed, the status of women and children greatly improved and there were remarkable advances in every other sphere of Palestinian life.
...In "civilized" Europe it was not peace processing that buried centuries of deadly animosities but economic developments that made them irrelevant. It could happen in a savage Middle East too if we stop relying on troublesome muddleheaded and dangerous politicians (by convincing Europe and the US to stop funding these thieves and murderers, and getting rid of our corrupt lot) and permit instead economic reality to assert itself again.