(Guest commentary provided by Peerouz Avesta in Denver, Colorado)
The polls in Israel have barely closed, but the identity of the loser of the election has been clearly determined: it is the status of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a viable national leader of Israel. (to paraphrase Justice John Paul Stevens)
That he actually called an election, two years earlier than his term was up, is a partial explanation. In his arrogance, he fired several key allies and alienated many loyal Likud voters. Of course, if he cannot get along with dissenting advice reveals much about what he can accomplish with Palestinians. His reported extravagance is rubbing salt in the wounds of Israelis who are outraged by housing prices. He became estranged from his own power base.
After a war in Gaza that found much international condemnation, and a military adventure in South Lebanon, that resulted in more than 100 Israeli deaths, he could hardly be believed for his slogans of security and strength. The widely reported news accounts that an Iranian-designed drone had circled and taken pictures of an Israeli nuclear facility could not be ignored. His status as the guarantor of security had to be questioned even by the most loyal of his supporters.
Instead of trying to seize the opportunity to influence the United States in her dealings with Iran over the nuclear issue, he reiterated his maximalist position of “no centrifuges” at the time that Iran is spinning nearly 20,000 nuclear centrifuges. Obama and Kerry have been able to turn several pounds of 20% enriched uranium into 5% industrial grade powder. To call the recently elected Iranian President, “a wolf in sheep clothing” is a failure of imagination. Even Iranian opposition turned against him last year by showing their jeans!
Alienating the United States may have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back. His speech to American Congress two weeks ago, was boycotted by Joe Biden, the titular head of US Senate: a speech that was hailed as unhelpful or dangerous to the nuclear negotiations at a critical junction.
In Persian mythology, a hawk is said to be shot by an arrow with a tiny feather. Upon examining it, the hawk realizes that the feather is also from another bird. He says “This is also from ours.”