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When Tzipi Livni set out to form her new governing coalition for Israel following the resignation of Ehud Olmert as head of the Kadima party, the last thing she might have suspected would be that her chief partner, the Israel Labor party, would threaten to call for new elections. Polls say Labor would probably lose about six Knesset mandates in an election, and that Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is almost certain to sweep to power, putting an end to the peace process that is supposedly beloved of Ehud Barak and Labor. It was Labor's Ehud Barak who had called for Ehud Olmert's resignation.

But in the Israeli political system (or non-system) we have to expect the bizarre. Against all logic, reports say the Israel Labor party favors new elections. If anyone in the Labor party objects to this initiative of Barak, they haven't said anything about it. Barak met with Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly to talk about a unity government. It is not clear what the basis of this government might be, but can we suggest "Peace with Greater Israel?" It is an absurd slogan for an absurd government. Speculation about why Barak and Labor might opt for the inexplicable is rife:

Supposedly, Livni intends to form a caretaker government and call for elections in January. Labor is not interested in being used as a 'bridge.'

Another theory - Barak despises Livini. He is jealous of Livni's rising popularity and wants to ensure that he, and not she, will become the leader of the center-left camp.

Barak is convinced, despite the polls, that Labor can win the next elections.

Barak is convinced, because of the polls, that the Likud will win the next elections. He is buying himself job insurance by insisting on a national unity government.

Barak is using the various ploys and rumors about new elections and unity governments in order to gain leverage in coalition negotiations. This will ensure that the Shas party and others do not impose too many conditions on the coalition, will give Labor some more ministerial perks and ensure proper funding of the defense budget, which is being hacked away mercilessly. (see Devil's advocate: New elections in Israel).

The real reason for Barak's bizarre 'targilim' (political maneuvers) might be something else entirely, which we do not suspect. However, there are two pointers to the probable correct solution. The first is that thus far, nobody in the Labor party has protested Barak's moves. If Barak was really interested in a unity government with Likud, we could assume that dovish Ami Ayalon and his supporters would have something to say about it. The second hint is that all of the "reports" about what Barak is planning are just reports - rumors. Rumors are not facts. Rumors can be denied. So all this smoke doesn't seem to indicate fire, but rather a smokescreen that will gain some leverage for the Labor party and Barak.

Barak, however, should be mindful that two can play at this game. Zippy Tzipi is a tiger. If Barak could try to entice Netanyahu into a unity government, Tzipi Livni , who was literally born into the Herut movement that fathered the Likud, could not entice the Likud to form a right-center coalition. Her father was operations officer of the Irgun. In the "fighting family" (hamishpa'ha ha lo'hemet) as the scions of the Irgun and Lehi people call themselves, symbolic blood is often still thicker than actual politics. Barak may smile as he goes for a ride on the tiger, but he may come back with Barak inside and the smile on the face of the tiger.

Ami Isseroff

* Bardak - Hebrew slang for "mess."

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000606.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Barak, the greatest and most decorated soldier of the Israeli army!! ?? "Our great strategic and tactical thinker" !! to safeguard us? But no, no no, Ehud the Shifty, can't pass up a chance to zig for zag. It should have been evident to everybody that this guy is a 'moral leper' a guy who can't pass up the chance to double cross every time he can do so, way the go there "Shifty"

Larry Riteman, Monday, September 22nd

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