But serious as some of Israel’s domestic problems are, they are overshadowed by the existential threat of a nuclear Iran, and it’s in that regard that the new coalition most significantly enhances Netanyahu’s status.
It does so, for one thing, by adding Mofaz—a former chief of staff and defense minister, and of Iranian background to boot—to the top governmental echelon. Netanyahu says he’s consulted with Mofaz on Iran for years. And while Mofaz—noted as a politician for his flip-flops including a good deal of Bibi-bashing—hasn’t always been consistent on the Iranian issue, he said in April that
allowing Iran to obtain even a civilian nuclear capability would change the balance of power in the Middle East…. If we see Iran getting closer to a military nuclear capability and the US acting against its own interest and allowing a sword on our neck, I will be the first to support Israel taking action.
And more generally, the mega-coalition strengthens Netanyahu’s hand in the international arena by making it unmistakably clear that the country is behind him. That was already evident on Wednesday when Netanyahu—together with Mofaz, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman—unequivocally told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Jerusalem that nothing short of a total cessation of Iran’s uranium enrichment is acceptable to Israel. No longer will the voices of disgruntled ex-Israeli officials, or New York Times headlines trumpeting supposed Israeli dissension on Iran, carry any weight.
It should now be clear that, however Bibi-bashing may be a sport among carping Israelis, world leaders, Israel-bashing American Jews like Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart, and the like, the Israeli people as a whole appreciate a leader who has bolstered and stabilized Israel’s economy, thrown Palestinian rejectionism into sharp relief, and generally maintained the country’s—albeit precarious—security. Bibi-bashing won’t cut it anymore. Netanyahu represents Israel and now has the strongest mandate possible to do whatever needs to be done.
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