|A MAJORITY OF ONE?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces his most serious crisis to date.
January 22, 1998
in this forum:
Was Foreign Minister Levy's resignation political posturing? How much can the U.S. actually achieve in the peace process? What are the chances that the prime minister will use the divisiveness of redeployment to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections himself? Are the Members of Knesset willing to dissolve the government altogether and run for re-election themselves? Isn't it possible that Mr. Netanyahu will survive this crisis as well? Viewer Comments
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Tze Kwang Teo of Singapore, asks:
Given the United States' anxiety in preserving the peace process and the reality of how much can actually be achieved by the U.S., do you think the U.S. will have enough clout to create a positive impact, or will it at most, be merely able to stabilize the tense situation temporarily?
Dr. Amos Perlmutter, professor of government at American University, answers:To begin with, the peace process was started by Palestinians and Israelis and the final status will be signed and implemented by both. The United States' role from the beginning has been as a facilitator, and paradoxically the new Israeli government has asked for greater American intervention to force Arafat to comply with the Note for the Record of January 1996 that specifically enumerates the responsibilities of the Palestinians, especially concerning terrorism, which they have not met. It is quite unfortunate that the greater American intervention is, the greater the expectation is of the two parties to secure more from one another with the help of the Americans than otherwise. Let the Palestinians and Israelis negotiate with one another and the United States return to its role as a facilitator.
Dr. Ehud Sprinzak, professor of political science at Hebrew University and visiting scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, answers:
As the only remaining superpower, as well as Israel's best friend and economic supporter, the administration can do in the Middle East almost everything it wishes to, including forcing Netanyahu to change his intransigent positions. The only question is: is it willing to do so? This involves a serious dilemma because the price of this policy may be a crisis between the White House, the pro-Netanyahu Republican congress and many American Jews. There are presently no indications that the President is willing to take these risks. It is therefore to be expected that regardless of its frustration with Mr. Netanyahu, the administration would act cautiously, with no high hopes for meaningful Mid-East progress, but also without allowing a major Palestinian-Israeli crisis to erupt.