Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bibi Gets Heat From The Right

In the wake of tonight's stabbing of a 17 year old in Jerusalem, right wing MKs have wasted no time in going on the offensive. In comments linking the stabbing to this week's prisoner release for Gilad Shalit, several of these MKs have accused the Netanyahu administration of "surrendering" to Hamas.

That many of these comments from Likud MK Danny Danon is significant. While MK Danon is outspoken on a number of issues, he is not as radical as many of his counterparts on the far-right. Such criticism from a prominent member of the Prime Minister's own party reflects the deep internal divide in the Knesset over the prisoner swap deal earlier this week. During the cabinet vote on the deal, Netanyahu's coalition partner - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - voted no and walked out of the session. Additionally, earlier tonight Likud MK and Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon called Netanyahu's offer to freeze some settlement building for a return to talks tantamount to "ethnic cleansing." The Netanyahu administration is receiving heat, and not only from the far right.

Such pressures are likely to force PM Netanyahu to harden his government's line in order to prevent further fracturing of his coalition. The national excitement over the return of Gilad Shalit will soon wear off, but many members of the Prime Minister's coalition are expert grudge-holders. This pressure to hardline also comes as the UN is considering a Palestinian statehood bid which, regardless of outcome, will isolate Israel in the international community. At the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu has faced this challenge before, including during his current term as Prime Minister. While the pressure is growing, it will not be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Today.

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