Likud Party’s Accountability to the Israel Public and Their Influence on Foreign Policy

Most of the researches that have been conducted on party organizations, assert that external environment influences are the main factors that assist in stabilizing a party. Researchers such as Janda, Appleton and Panebianco have all attested to this fact. A political party is considered an organization that is constituted by groups of people who draw their benefits from status quo. These people would always work hard towards ensuring that no change that is likely to affect their position in the party is encountered.

It is proper to rule out the possibility of influences of external factors on the internal power relations. Israel is viewed as a nation that is characterized by a series of wars. Therefore, Israelis have lot of things to worry about. The citizens are subjected to life between wars and have to contend with Hamas, Hezbollah among other threats. Iran has become the main threat to Israelis since its President; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Israel should be wiped off the map. Power struggles within a party are some of the things that form the basis of intra-organizational dynamic processes. The purpose of the paper is to explore how Likud Party’s has been accountable to the Israel public and their influence on foreign policy with the understanding that although most of Likud party leaders tried to foster policies that would see Israel realize peace, most of those policies did not reflect the voter’s wishes of the Israel public thereby leading to constant tie or narrow win of election and eventual formation of coalition governments which undermined Likud Party’s foreign policies.

Likud Party, the Prime Minister Sharon and His Foreign Policies

Likud party of Israeli was founded in 1973 through a combination of several liberal and right wing parties. Liberal party, herut party, the Free Center, State List and segments of the Land of Israel are some of the major parties that were joined together to form Likud. Likud party has dominated the politics of Israeli since its formation in 1973. Its philosophy is majorly based on the objectives of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, leader of Zionist. Jabotinsky was the founder of Irqun; an organization that against the British and Arabs to ensure that Jews’ obtained right to land on the space that was perceived as Palestine’s. Jabotinsky founded Revisionist Party in 1925. The party’s main aim was to reverse Britain’s decision made in 1922 to pull Trans-Jordan from the mandate of British over Palestine. The party would also see into the reassertion of “Greater Israel”; a Jabotinsky’s vision. The Revisionist Party continued to fight in order to conquer the Transjordan all the way from 1950s to late 1960s. The revisionists swore never to rest until the two banks to the Jordan became theirs.

During the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli had succeeded in conquering several territories. By 1973, the territories already conquered included; Egypt’s Sinai, Syria’s Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and Jordan’s West Bank. The Likud Party’s advocacy would be to extend the Israeli sovereignty to these territories. In fact, the party has maintained Jew’s claims over the West Bank and the Golan. However, under the 1978 Camp David agreement, the party accepted to pull out from the Sinai. Ariel Sharon who was then the Israeli’s Prime Minister, made a declaration on Hamas as a major threat to Israel. Unfortunately, Sharon was in the group of architects who had encouraged the establishment of an Islamic alternative to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which is perceived to have given rise to Hamas. In other words, Sharon through the Likud Party initiated the start of Hamas through the policies that would later undermine the peace initiation.

As a result of Sharon’s Likud Bloc party’s extremist policies that did not go well with some of the party’s membership, Hamas was influenced to expand from the former armed struggle against Israeli’s soldiers to as much as suicide bombings of civilian targets. It was ironical that the two enemies, Likud and Hamas ended up benefiting politically from each other’s extremists’ policies over the years of the battle.

These policies that Sharon and Likud Party formulated were intended solely to undermine the power of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat over negotiations on the return of Gaza Strip, Arab East Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank. Yasir Arafat was anointed in 1974 at the Rabat Arab Summit as the only Palestinian leader who would participate in the negotiation. The policies in fact inadvertently stimulated the Islamic movement to rise to a stronger level of terrorism.

In 1994, there occurred the first suicide bombing which was carried out by the Palestinian militia in response to Likud inspired settler murder of Muslims at the Hebron Mosque during their worship. There had been a steady increase in the Hamas suicide bombings making the Middle East the worst site for crisis. The bombings with their ominous look, gave Likud Party strength to strive to achieve their goals of destroying Arafat as well as Palestinian state hood. The steady increase in violence and the suicide bombings ended up undermining the Israeli’s peace process and political power of the Labor Party-the main Israeli political rival. Peace process was one of the Likud’s main goals. The Hamas violence and suicide bombings provoked Sharon to seek any available alternatives to destroy Arafat-his main arch rival.  

The first attempt of Sharon to destroy Arafat through the assault on his PLO bases in Lebanon and Beirut failed. As a matter of fact, the attempt ended in an embarrassment for Israel when Sharon and his team were forced into a retreat. Reputation of Sharon was tarnished. He was also blamed for the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps which involved a hundreds of Palestinians. Under the leaderships of Begin and Shamir, Sharon designed a plan which involved a system of local councils managed by Palestinians to run a local city and village administrations. By then Sharon was the Israeli’s Defense Minister and his plan would be installed, funded and controlled by the government. This system would later form the basis of Hamas group. Hamas funded itself from the money it collected from supportive anti-Arafat Arab regimes.

In 1988, PLO and Arafat concealed an agreement on two states’ solution from the negotiations of land for peace. In response, Likud sold autonomy to the movement of Islamists. Hamas was not happy by the Arafat’s move and reacted by openly initiating armed struggle on Israel. This initiation took aback both Sharon and Likud Party. However, Hamas grew very fast in their war against Israel and only halted in its war when LPO returned to power and Arafat recaptured Gaza Strip and West Bank. Arafat then decided to lay effective measures to cub Hamas actions. Israel on other hand, adopted more aggressive policies that included expelling, assassinating as well as jailing Hamas leaders.

    In 2000, while ignoring the United States’ pleas, Defense Minister Sharon together with a number of his Defense Forces troops made a visit to Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The visit elicited reactions which involved violent protests by stone throwing Palestinians. The troops responded by using live ammunitions killing several Palestinians. Large groups of Israeli Jews took the advantage of the situation and launched attacks on Arab homes, businesses and mosques which were located close to Nazareth. Israeli soldiers again responded by killing several Arabs.

Following the reports of Amnesty International that claimed over 300 Palestinians deaths, 10, 000 injured and 2000 arrests of Palestinians, the then Prime Minister Ehud Barak had to resign. New elections which would see Sharon become the next Israeli Prime Minister were imminent. Right-Winger Sharon got to Prime Minister’s office in early 2001 under Likud Party. His first vows included continuation of hard-line policy of forceful retaliation against Arab citizens.

In 1982 while still a Defense Minister, Sharon’s Israeli troops had stood by the massacre that was launched by Phalanges’ militia against defenseless Palestinians. So, the election of Sharon as Prime Minister had a strong symbolic message to Palestinians. After his election, Israel carried on with its plans of leveling Palestinian homes and also expanding Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. On the other hand, Palestinians would not give up and so continued launching series of suicidal bombings against Israelis. Towards the mid of 2001, Sharm el-Sheikh fact-finding committee under the direction of former of former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, gave a report that outlined grievances of Likud Party and effective steps to revive the peace process. Unfortunately, disintegration of all negotiations together with Sharon’s quest to pull Arafat from power derived the plan of its main objective.

In the following year, Israeli forces under the reign of Sharon continued their attacks on Palestinians who were in the cities and refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Further, Israeli Defense Forces tried to capture Arafat’s compound in Ramadallah. As a result of the Israeli invasion, more than 1500 people lost their lives. Most of the causalities were mostly civilians.

The same trend of violence that entailed Israeli attacks and Palestinians suicidal bombings continued up to 2003. The United States’ government developed a plan known as a road map to peace. The U.S. plan was to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005. The U.S. government under President Bush sanctioned Sharon’s leadership to proceed with attacks against Palestine. According to Bush, the attacks were meant for anti-terror operations.

In order to support Bush’s directions, Sharon announced a plan to erect a controversial security fence. To Sharon, this was an Israeli version of Berlin wall. The Sharon’s plan instigated a lot of criticism from the international communities. Some of the communities claimed that the construction of the wall would institutionalize the disputed border. The construction would also go against the previous resolutions that had been reached at by the United Nations. As determined as he was, Sharon proceeded with the construction.

Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli citizens continued into the year 2004. To counter-react to these suicidal bombings, Israeli military operations based in the occupied territories, killed more than 900 Palestinians. In November 2004, Sharon had a sigh of relief when Arafat passed on. Following the death of Arafat, Sharon decided to withdraw his troops from the Gaza Strips. He also dismantled Israeli settlements.

By 2005, Israeli leadership under the Prime Minister Sharon managed to completely withdraw Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and dismantle the Israeli settlements in the area. Instead, he continued to build up the settlements in the West Bank. Israeli hardliners who were opposed to the withdrawal began subjecting Sharon to dissension. The Prime Minister did not have otherwise but to quit Likud Party. He then formed a new party called Kadima. As demanded by Israeli constitution, the defection triggered elections which would take place in early 2006.

Unfortunately, Sharon would not run for the post of Prime Minister following a massive stroke that befell him. So Ehud Olmert succeeded Ariel Sharon. In the same year, Palestinians also conducted their elections in which the Hamas won. As a result of a terrorist organization winning a political election, Israeli’s mission on Palestinians got a draw back.

Still, Israeli leadership pushed on with the fight. The leadership insisted that it would abscond any negotiation with Palestinian government if it included anybody from the terror group that was out to destroy Israel. The leadership even went ahead of authorizing its defense group to kill any suspect of the terror group.

The U.S. government on the other hand continued giving support to Israeli government. The United States even adopted a policy that would tacit support for Israel while imposing sanctions by withdrawing foreign assistance for Palestine.

Israeli Opinions in regards to Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israel has been willing and ready to make several sacrifices in order to achieve peace. It is evident that peace would never be achieved unless both sides give in to concessions and confidence building measures. As much as Israel is ready to address the rights and interests of the Palestinians, Israelis have legitimate rights and interests that need to be addressed as well. As have been proved, peace is only achievable if negotiations to bridge gaps are well conducted.

Israel feels that it could achieve peace if only it was to curry out negotiations with a Palestinian government that detested terrorism. When Israel tried negotiating with some of the Arab leaders such as King Hussein of Jordan and President Sadat of Egypt, peace was brokered. It was easier in these cases since the Arab leaders were also willing to make concrete steps as well as speaking the same message of peace. In other words, Israel is ready to broker peace with all the moderate regional states.

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According to Israel, the Arab countries such as Iran and Syria that support Palestinian terrorism and incitement should be stopped in order to create conducive atmosphere peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Since the Hamas and other extremist Palestinian elements would not be ready to recognize Israel’s right to existence and launching violence attacks on moderate Palestinian leadership, peace process would not see any success.

The first step in the Roadmap would be to dismantle the structures of the terrorist groups. The step would also form the basis of an effective peace process. Since the process requires a positive environment, free of terrorism and incitements and one in which efforts to attain mutual understanding, terrorists disablement is the only of achieving such atmosphere. Israel is known for having taking bold steps in several occasions to help Palestine revive its economy.

There has been a plan in which Israel would ensure a goodwill gestures in relation to moderate Palestinian camp. The plan would include facilitating free movement of Palestinians by withdrawing travelling barriers, transferring taxes and levies as well as releasing prisoners. However, Israel would only affect such plans if Israeli defense team is not attacked. The conditions laid by Israel would also require Palestinians to detest from terrorism.

Israelis have suggested that the attempts by the Palestinians and other Arab countries to exert forces on Israel to accept Palestinians unreasonable proposals would not yield peace. Therefore, Arab states should withdraw their support from hard-line Palestinian positions. Otherwise, it would be more challenging for Palestinians themselves to make the compromises that are necessary.

As expected by Israel, positive contributions from the Arab countries would assist in the generation of atmosphere suitable for peace negotiations. The positive contributions would also reenergize the multilateral relations that in turn would promote corporation regionally.

Israel just like other parties in the region has been supporting the UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. The resolutions have created important format for carrying out negotiations based on permanent settlements. Israelis have also given applause to implementation of the Roadmap and have been persuading their arch-rival Palestine to accomplish its obligations as required by the Roadmap. Unfortunately, the Palestinians would not accept to fulfill their obligations such as fight against terrorism.

It has been the wish of Israel to see well establishments of the two states; the Israeli and the Palestinian states. In other words, Israeli leadership did not aspire to rule over the Palestinians. Instead Israel is yarning for a democratic Palestinian state that attributes good relations with Israelis. This way, there would be promotion of long term security and well-being of Israel as a Jewish state would be ensured.

Israel would not welcome a terrorist state anywhere close to its territories. It therefore implies that plans to establish a Palestinian state would have to consider alongside other factors, Israel’s rights and demands. Considering security matters during the establishment, would ensure peace and stability in the entire region. In the bid to search for long-lasting peace, the Israelis have learnt to embrace the vision of two states for two people as had been resolved in the 1947 United Nations’ Partition plan.

As depicted in its disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Israel holds a vested interest in the creation of a peaceful and stable Palestinian state, of which is shared by moderates in the entire region. Israel has been willing to advance this step provide Palestine shows positive corporation towards the same plan of the establishment.

When Israel accepted to adopt the provisions in the Roadmaps, it was to show how much it is willing to extend its effort in the search for peace. In fact, it showed how Israeli government hat set profound compromises geared at ending the conflict. Furthermore, in order to foster peace, Israel would want to make contributions that would improve Palestinians’ lives as well as Palestinian economy.

Israel has chosen not to wait for complete implementation of the Roadmap by the Palestinians. Israel government has been holding dialogues with Palestinian government on matters regarding peace. However, Israel insists that any solution made from the dialogues would only be justified after the implementation of the Roadmap requirements.

Israel would prefer strategy that entails differentiation. The strategy would ensure that Hamas-controlled regions such as Gaza are dealt with differently. In the strategy, the government of moderate Palestinian authority would be spared. The moderate leadership under the PA President Mahmoud Abbas is reported to be giving in to the main three international conditions. The conditions include; the acceptance of Israel’s rights to existence, the renunciation of violence acts and giving of attributes to previously made agreements.

According to Israelis, Palestinians would achieve moderate elements such as financial assistance, security matters, establishment of a political horizon and easing of living conditions, if the Palestinians were to renounce terrorism and violence.

Israel had made suggestions that other Arab nations should advised not to take sides on the issue between Israeli and Palestine. Instead the nations should choose wisely between the moderate Palestinian government and the elements of the extremist terror group. The Israel strongly feels that the Arab nations should support the moderate Palestinian leadership on its pragmatic issues. It also feels that the Arab world would play a more significant role in the peace process if the Arabs rejected the extremist Hamas group.

The Israeli government decided to take a low profile in spite of the Hamas terrorism persistence. Israel instead opted to proceed with the ongoing talks with the moderate Palestinian leadership. The cool profile was aimed at sending a message to Palestinians. According to Israeli government, it was seeking to convince the other side that they would achieve a state of their own if the moderates were the representatives of their national interests.

Even if the Hamas terrorist group has still held onto their attacks on Israelis, they are equally bringing several strategies to their fellow Palestinians. As had been witnessed in Gaza events, the terrorists ended up undermining the Palestinians rights, they would claim to be protecting such Palestinians interests.

It would be obvious to predict that the coming Palestinian state would not be a terrorist state. As a result, Israel and the international community feel that the best route for the establishment of this state should involve the Quartet principles such as renunciation of terrorism and implementations of the obligations that were stated in the Roadmap.

In the peace-making process, the Arab nations would play a critical role if they wanted to. Unlike in the past when the nations did not constructively support Palestine-Israel peace initiation, the later trends were quite encouraging and extremely welcomed by the Israeli government. For instance, the recently formulated landmark Arab League peace initiative gave hopes of positive participations of some Arab nations in the peace process.

However, the elements of enemies of coexistence such as Iran’s assistance for Hizbullah and Hamas would only sabotage the intended prospects of the peace finding efforts. The Teheran’s decision to remove Israel from the map is some of the factors that would worsen the security situations between the two countries. Syria had followed the foot steps of Iran and hence would also interfere with the Palestine-Israel reconciliation. Israel had proposed the withdrawal of Syria, Iran and other Arab groups from actions that would only undermine the peace process.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s influence on Israeli Foreign Policy        

It was a worry factor that stimulated Benjamin’s re-election as Prime Minister under Likud Party. He leads a coalition government with main dominants being the right- wing Likud Party and several religious parties. During his first term in the rank of Prime Minister (1996-1999), Benjamin Netanyahu had failed to deliver as Israelis had expected. Critics perceived him as lampooned and arrogant. Fortunately, Israelis as well as his party Likud were willing to forgive him since they felt that he was strong on security issues.

Benjamin was appreciated for his tough foreign policies on Iran-Israeli relations. The Prime Minister believed that Israel would be in danger of extermination if Iran had nuclear weapons at its disposal. This belief made the basis of Benjamin’s actions against Iran. When he visited U.S. President Barack Obama, the visit was meant to try and find solutions to Iran Nuclear Installations and possibly to stop it from building such nuclear nukes.

The PM had also swore that if the international communities would fail to stop Iran from this action, Israel would have no option but to take out Iran’s nuclear installations single handedly, in spite of the message that the Israel’s action would send to the world. Surprisingly, a large number of Israeli supported the Benjamin’s proposal. In fact, a poll that was conducted by Bar-Ilan University gave a figure of 66% of Israelis that were for the leader’s opinion. But U.S. government would not support the Netanyahu’s idea of initiating a military strike against Iran on the event of failure of diplomacy attempts.

The Prime Minister’s opposition to the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza would not be taken lightly by the U.S. government. According to the United States, the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be the best option. The Obama’s government consistently insisted that Netanyahu give in to the two-estate strategy. Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition partners supported him on his stand in relation to the two-state plan.

The peace between Israel and Syria would be a cornerstone in the regional security and its achievement would be highly applauded in the region. Unfortunately, the process had several hitches since Richard Haass and Martin had consistently made accusations against Benjamin for having made a withdrawal from the Golan Heights during his first reign in favor of the then Syrian President.

The expulsion of Israeli embassy from Ankara, Cairo and Amman, was viewed as a blow to Netanyahu’s effort to integrate Israel as an accepted neighbor in the Middle East region. In fact, the action formed the lowest point in the foreign policy since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat broke ground by his visit to Jerusalem in 1977. The action was also perceived as a strategy of the region to spew out the Israeli state. They claimed that the leadership of Netanyahu had refused to admit any change, movement as well as reform.

Israel had directed its confrontation to Palestinians having felt the Palestine had been weakened by the desertion of the international community. Benjamin Netanyahu would have to suffer following the changes in the Middle East. The changes included an increase in Erdoganist Turkey, Iran’s persistence in its nuclear installations, decline in the American superpower and empowerment of the masses in the Arab nations.

However, the Prime Minister Netanyahu together with his defense team had ensured that Israelis would not fall victims of the changes. For instance, Netanyahu’s leadership had taken into account all the measures including the Army so as to ensure that the marches and processions in the West Bank were properly manned. At the same time, the leadership had also set aside large sums of money for dispersal of demonstrators through a non-lethal means.

Netanyahu considered Obama’s government to be supporting Abbas’ views. According to the Israeli Prime Minister, Obama did not only support Abbas, but was also responsible for the Palestinian’s moves. In Obama’s speech on the previous year’s General Assembly, he gave sentiments that would raise hopes of Palestine becoming a new member of the United Organizations. A speech that the Netanyahu’s perceived as a call for an establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Likud Party’s Position on PM Netanyahu’s Foreign Policies

Generally, Likud Party was always committed to supporting PM Benyamin Netanyahu’s foreign policies. One reason behind the foreign policy commitment was the fact that the PM Netanyahu was committed to initiating foreign policies that would promote peace. In fact, it through his criticism of the failure of the government’s peace policies to offer Israel security during the 1996 Palestinian bombing of Israel that made PM Netanyahu to win the May 29 elections. The main aim of Likud Party was for Israel to realize peace. Owing to this, much support that PM Netanyahu received after winning the May 29 elections depended on the foreign policies that would support the Netanyahu’s bid to pursue peace, security and reciprocity. 

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