- Text smaller
- Text bigger
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just two weeks left to forge a new coalition government, but the Obama administration is working feverishly to prevent him from succeeding and force him from office, according to Middle East expert Dr. Michael Evans.
Evans is the author of numerous books about the various crises in the Middle East, including "Atomic Iran: Countdown to Armageddon" and the book he wrote with WND's Jerome Corsi, "Showdown with Nuclear Iran." He told WND it's very clear why Netanyahu hasn't put a new government together.
"The biggest stumbling block is the Big O, Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama's got his team over there. They've been over there a couple weeks, and they're meeting with the opposition leaders," Evans said. "This is fairly existential. Obama doesn't dislike Netanyahu. He hates him. He hates him. Netanyahu has been able to succeed against Obama. How did he do it? He went directly to the House of Representatives and got 18 standing ovations. He went to the U.S. media. But now he's come to power weakened. Obama's come into power strengthened."
Evans said the argument made by Obama emissaries to Israeli lawmakers is that Netanyahu won't last much longer in power so Israelis would be smart to go with a new leader now so as to forge a better working relationship with the U.S. Evans said that's just a smokescreen.
"Obama's people don't want Netanyahu back in office. Obama's people want a divided Jerusalem. They want a Palestinian state. They want Judea and Samaria settlements to stop, etc., etc.," he said. "Anything they can do to weaken Netanyahu, they're doing and they're succeeding at it."
While Obama's efforts are working for the moment, Evans believes Netanyahu will cobble together a government in the coming days, but not as strong of one as he would like.
"I think ultimately Bibi's going to put his cabinet together. It won't be strong. He wants it to have a broad coalition of maybe 75-80 out of 120 (seats in the Israeli Knesset). I don't think he's going to get that. I think he's probably going to get something in the high fifties or, maximum, in the low sixties," Evans said. "It's possible that within a year or two, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will run again and try to defeat him."
If Netanyahu cannot build a coalition government within the next two weeks, Israeli President Shimon Peres will invite second-place finisher Yair Lapid to forge a group that would make him the new prime minister. If he also fails, new elections would be called.
"I think it's very likely that Netanyahu will be able to put a coalition together, but here's the problem: Right now, to put a coalition together, he's going to have to compromise on his core values. What he compromises to gain he will ultimately lose," said Evans, noting that Netanyahu will feel pressured by the U.S. to make concessions toward Palestinian statehood and those concessions will mean the crumbling of the coalition.
But Netanyahu will also feel pressure to accommodate Obama on statehood because of the specter of diminished U.S. foreign aid to Israel. Evans said Obama will use the current sequestration fight and other looming fiscal debates to force Netanyahu's hand by threatening air defense assistance and other vital programs.
"It's an existential dilemma for the prime minister. Any direction he goes, he falls on his own sword," Evans said.
According to Evans, Obama has already made it clear that he views Israel as the problem when it comes to the Mideast crisis.
"Obama gave his addiction speech in his first term, declaring that the greatest instability in the Middle East was al-Qaida. The second greatest was Israel," Evans said.
When pressed to clarify when and how Obama made that contention, Evans pointed to the president's highly touted speech in the region early in his presidency.
"It was the speech he gave in Cairo at the university in his first term that he talked about instability in the Middle East. He talked about the Palestinian crisis as the second most significant cause of instability and Israel gets blamed," Evans said. "There isn't any Arab regime, no thugocracy wants to solve the Palestinian crisis because to have an army you need an enemy, and Israel is perfect for the family owned corporations called countries to blame for all their problems as opposed to blaming themselves. So Israel's got to be the tar baby."
As for the Israeli public, Evans said most people are willing to take steps to resolve the Palestinian crisis, but there's a limit to what they'll approve to make nice with the Obama administration.
"They can't support a Palestinian state that has an army, that has airspace and has treaties. An army, airspace and treaties with a Palestinian state would be an existential threat against the state of Israel and would be its downfall, because that Palestinian state could bring in Iran and other nations that hate Israel," Evans said.
"This is a very serious crisis for the Jewish people," he said.