Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu have forged a coalition agreement under which Avigdor Lieberman will become foreign minister. It’s impossible to imagine that Lieberman, known primarily as an Arab-bashing racist, will be able to represent Israeli interests effectively in Europe much less in Cairo, Istanbul, and Amman. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets in the United States. Historically, even quite hawkish Jewish American leaders have been extremely (and rightly!) disparaging of Lieberman. I’ve noted Martin Peretz’s objections (“neo-fascist” and “certified gangster” come up) to the man in the past. But it’s hard to imagine Lieberman’s critics actually breaking with Israeli foreign policy in a substantive way and Joe Lieberman, at least, has already begun sucking up to the Lieberman across the pond.
And of course beyond this battle of personalities, the question of Iran keeps looming in the background. One detects very little appetite in the United States for a bombing campaign against Iran, and rightly so. But there are a lot of indications that Israeli officials are very hot-to-trot to start bombing. The Obama administration presumably would not support any such endeavors. But how far would it go in declining to support an Israeli attack? Would there be actual consequences, or will this be like Israeli settlement-building where official U.S. policy is that it should stop, but it never does stop and Israel never stops receiving American support?