Friday, July 02, 2010

Secret Israel/Turkey Meeting - Is Netanyahu Undercutting The Israeli Right?

An odd item from CNN that could prove significant...

Apparently a senior Turkish official approached Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer about wanting a meeting, and Ben Eliezer reported it to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who gave his permission. Subsequently, a meeting between Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu occurred Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium.

Netanyahu did not bother to inform or consult with Davutoglu's Israeli opposite number, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. And now that the news of this meeting has leaked out, Lieberman is livid, saying "This is an insult to the norms of accepted behavior and a hard blow to the trust between the foreign minister and the prime minister."

Netanyahu claims that Lieberman was not informed due to what Netanyahu termed as technical reasons.

Of course, there's some interesting context to this.

Ben-Eliezer is a Labor party apparatchnik who is in the Israeli cabinet because of Labor participating in the coalition government with Netanyahu's Likud party, while Avigdor Lieberman is the head of another one of coalition parties, the center right Israel Beiteinu.

Not consulting with his foreign minister is not only a serious breach of political protocol by Netanyahu, but possibly a clue as to future events.

When Labor Party head Ehud Barak went to Washington recently to meet with the Obama Administration, he was given VIP treatment in sharp contrast to the way Netanyahu was treated. It's no secret that President Obama would much prefer a left leaning Israeli government to deal with as opposed a government run by the center Right Likud.

Is Netanyahu, who is meeting shortly with President Obama thinking about dumping Israel Beiteinu out of his coalition and maybe bringing in Tzipi Livni and the Leftist Kadima party to replace them in order to curry favor with Obama?

I hope Bibi is smarter than that. Aside from being the most counterproductive thing he could do policy-wise, it would cause his government to fall and undoubtedly lead to new elections at a time when Israel can least afford to be distracted.

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