"Gadi Baltiansky: Labor Had to Join Likud Coalition to Stay Relevant"
Gadi Baltiansky, a former Ehud Barak aide who’s now Director General of the Geneva Peace Initiative, says going into government was the right move for Labor because “With Kadima in the opposition, and Tzipi leading it, they would have had no real role to play and would have disappeared very quickly.” Still, for a supporter of this move he paints a pretty bleak picture, observing that “Bibi was desperate for a fig leaf for his government so that it would not be isolated in the world.” Baltiansky says it’s “important for [Netanyahu] to be perceived as being more open to the peace process, as being more reasonable than perhaps he is” and that’s the role Barak and Labor now get to play.
And then there’s this:
Pulse: Does Labor in the coalition help Bibi vis-à-vis the US?
Baltiansky: Not really because the inclusion of Barak and Labor in his government does not dramatically change the makeup of what is essentially an extreme right wing government. Lieberman still has to prove himself as the Foreign Minister and Barak as Defense Minister can’t change that. And Bibi, even with Labor alongside him, will still ultimately have to make bold decisions that are important to the US relationship, such as dealing with settlements, and other issues that will not be easy for him vis-a-vis his other coalition partners.
And this is from someone who thinks Barak made the right choice.
It’s worth underscoring how extreme this government is. Just a few years ago, everyone understood Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni and Ariel Sharon to be right-of-center politicians. Then the Likud Party to which they belonged split, with Bibi taking the right-right faction and Sharon taking the center-right faction. Now the further-right faction of Likud has formed a coalition with parties that are even more right-wing, plus Barak in a “fig leaf” role.