A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
April 29, 2012- Diskin Calls Netanyahu Barak Messianic, Elections Probably in October
Two issues have dominated Israel;s news today. The first item being the statement of the former head of the Shin Bet about the Netanyahu government, and the second item on the sudden onset of elections.
On Friday a tape of the former head of the Shin Bet (Israel's internal security services) came to light criticizing Netanyahu and Barak. Yuval Diskin who retired a year ago stated that Netanyahu and Barak's views on attacking Iran were wrong. Diskin further stated they felt Netanyahu and Barak were being driven by a Messianic needs to consider attacking Iran. He adding that an attack on Iran was something that Israel should not do alone and that it was too soon to consider such an attack. On a different front, Diskin stirred the pot further by saying that the Netanyahu government has done nothing to advance peace with the Palestinians, and has no interest in doing so.
The speech created the expected outcry by Likud ministers, rallying to support Netanyahu. The most important point, however, is that with Diskin's public statement is one of many. All of the prior heads of the security establishment, the head of the Mossad, the Shin Bet, the Chief of Staff and the former Head of Military Intelligence are on record, in their agreement opposing any imminent attack on Iran. All of these security chiefs have been replaced. According to those "in the know", the new heads of the same agencies are no more in accord with Netanyahu's stated position than their predecessors. That certainly seems to be the case with the current Chief of Staff, who gave an interview last week stating clearly that Israel has plenty of time to act regarding Iran. Beside all of substantive points this is Netanyahu's worse political nightmare, with elections imminent this is almost an exact reply of 1999 when all of the then leaders of the Security Establishment came out against Netanyahu.
Elections seem almost certain to be on theimediate horizon, most likely in October. A government that was one of the most stable in Israel’s history is likely to go to new elections, primarily over a replacement for the "Tal Law". There are other factors at work as well, including what looks like the great difficulty in passing a new budget (which has been reported will require significant budget cuts)
Still, the main issue remains the need to replace the Tal Law. In an election year, after last summer's social protest, whose underlying current was the need for equalizing the burden on citizens, each party is trying to out do each other in their calls for a law that institutes universal service without exemptions. Over the weekend, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was very clear that he is willing to bring down the government in order to pass his version of a law, forcing universal service on the Haredim. Then today, in a surprise move, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with leaders of the protest movement and promised to lead the charge to inact a law that will bring about universal service. Who will gain politically from all of this in an election is still unclear. However, as I wrote when the Supreme Court struck down the Tal Law, the unique confluence of the Supreme Court decision, the fact that this was going to be an election year, and last summer's protest movement, may have brought about a moment a profound change in the relations between Haredim and the rest of the Israeli population.
I am glad I live in Tel Aviv, and not in Jerusalem, since I do not expect the Haredim to accept these sort of changes without putting up a tremendous fight.