Israel's Coalition With Potential

Despite Hiccups, Netanyahu-Mofaz Pact Could Still Bear Fruit

Don’t Count ‘Em Out: Some have cynically discounted the changes of Israel’s new coalition government achieving much. They may just be wrong.
getty images
Don’t Count ‘Em Out: Some have cynically discounted the changes of Israel’s new coalition government achieving much. They may just be wrong.

By Peter A. Joseph

Published July 05, 2012, issue of July 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The inclination by those in the peace camp, both in Israel and the United States, to react cynically to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise announcement of a coalition agreement with Kadima party chairman Shaul Mofaz was not that shocking. But it is sorely misguided. Worse, it could be detrimental to Israel’s interests.

Discounting the formation of the unity government as having no real policy implications may seem reasonable from past experience, but is also simplistic. Instead, Israel’s supporters in America — particularly those who advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — should examine this development with an open mind and and encourage the potential for positive movement.

Granted, while encouraging the coalition’s moderation, we must not be blind to the harsh realities of Israeli politics, which have dashed the hopes and possibilities of this type of moment in the past. These include the possibility that the new coalition could collapse over domestic issues. Until that collapse takes place, and with real leadership, the current makeup of this government offers the best chance for progress.

In late June, in Washington, Mofaz, the new deputy prime minister, declared: “We cannot continue to rule another nation,” adding that “the solution is to make compromises.” He told The Washington Post before his visit to the United States, “Time is not in favor” of Israel, because the Palestinian dispute could lead to the end of the Jewish state should Arabs outnumber Jews.

That both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chose to meet with Mofaz is significant. The president’s half-hour conversation was not scheduled. He walked in on Mofaz’s meeting with National Security adviser Tom Donilon and took over. It’s likely that Mofaz’s stance on Israeli-Palestinian talks prompted the president’s move.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s remarks at the end of May backing an interim agreement to help smooth the way to a two-state solution also illustrate how this new coalition could produce positive policy achievements. His comments resemble Mofaz’s plan for a Palestinian state within interim borders as a first step toward final-status negotiations.

These examples tell us we should welcome the new coalition as a step toward centrism and pragmatism. What’s more, if Israel is to successfully address the serious challenges it faces, it needs a strong and broad governing coalition. We must support this one and encourage its continuation.

The alternative — the reflexive distrust that greets actions taken by the Israeli government in recent years — diminishes Jerusalem’s and Washington’s capacity to deal with the issues that both face in the region. It also ignores the new political reality in Israel. With the centrist Kadima party entering the coalition, the government now consists of 94 to 120 seats in Israel’s Knesset.

This cynicism also discounts the very real impact the new government’s moderate voices could have. As Kadima Deputy Chairman Yohanan Plesner noted during a conference call organized by the Israel Policy Forum the day after the new government was announced. The coalition enables a “moderate alliance” to be developed. American Jewish supporters of Israel, the Obama administration and Congress should appreciate this critically important fact.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.