Prime Minister Netanyahu, who began his official premiership today, appointed Avigdor Lieberman, of the Yisrael Beitanu party as foreign minister.
Can we just take a minute to examine what this means?
Lieberman is the very same politician who advocates forced expulsions of Israel's Arabs and who, at the very least, has been pushing for this population to face a tough choice: swear their loyalty to the Zionist state or have their citizenship revoked. To the outsider, this may seem natural. After all, why should defectors get to live in a state they oppose? However, it is possible to oppose Zionism and still support Israel.
Have we not many American citizens who love this country but oppose capitalism? Wanting to change some aspects of your government is not the same thing as wishing the whole state to disappear.
But Lieberman and his cronies, thinking as they do, are motivated by fear. And in a world where everyone is out to get you, you have to do whatever you can to stay on top. In Lieberman's view, the only way to be safe is to be the most powerful, or alternately, for everyone around you to be just like you.
Despite Netanyahu's mumblings about peace, his government is likely to take a hard line approach to peace efforts. Which basically means he will try to bully the Palestinians into submission. Like Operation Cast Lead, Bibi will apply pressure in all the most sensitive places so that giving Israel whatever it wants seems like the only option.
There is virtually no way peace will be made between Israel and Palestine without dismantlement of the settlements, and peace talks cannot even be taken seriously until Israel stops expanding existing settlements.
But this won't happen with Lieberman as foreign minister. He rabidly supports the settlement of the West Bank by Jewish Israelis.
It seems like what I wrote back in August is coming to fruition. Palestinian Authority officials said peace talks with anyone but Tzipi Livni would fail.
Do you recognize this man?
3 days ago