(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Looking into my crystal ball for 2012, here’s what I see:
Binyamin Netanyahu: He
will continue to successfully embrace the center of Israeli politics and
maintain a stable coalition, with no need for new elections or for reckless
diplomatic initiatives. His greatest challenge will come from the ultra-Orthodox
who feel simultaneously emboldened and threatened, and will ramp up their
financial demands when it comes time to negotiate the 2013 state
The most interesting and unpredictable party
leader in Israeli politics. Believe it or not, she is now reaching out with
social-economic messaging to religious voters and settlers in order to broaden
Labor’s base. She clearly eclipses Tzipi Livni. Can she also overshadow Yair
Lapid, and raise real campaign money? Arye Deri:
He threatens to steal half of
Shas voters from Eli Yishai if he runs for election independently, and will
force Yishai to shift ever more to the religious Right in order to distinguish
himself from Deri. Unfortunately, that means that Shas will back away from
supporting marriage reform (the “Tzohar Bill”), and any liberalizing changes in
Since the attorney-general
decided not to prosecute MK Haneen Zoabi of Balad for her participation in the
infamous flotilla – which should have been a slam-dunk indictment – I bet that
he will decide also not to proceed with an indictment of Lieberman. It’s only
fair. This will fuel Israel Beiteinu’s next election campaign, and Netanyahu
will look to solidify his alliance with Lieberman.
cardboard leader of the Palestinian “Authority” will continue to hunker down
behind UN initiatives aimed at isolating and condemning Israel, while
authorizing only marginal, meaningless “peace talks” with Israel. The world will
continue to coddle Abbas, despite his intransigence.
will serve to strengthen Hamas’s standing within Palestinian institutions and
society. When the IDF takes action against the Hamas in Gaza, Abbas will be
trapped and lose whatever remaining credibility he has with Israelis and
If we’re lucky, his cockiness and
bluster will trip him into a shooting war with the US in the Straits of Hormuz
or elsewhere in the Gulf. If we’re less lucky, he’ll make steady but quiet
progress in nuclear enrichment and weaponization, while bamboozling the EU with
endless negotiations. Israel will hold back from a direct military confrontation
with Iran until there are changes in Washington or the Iranians foolishly go for
a nuclear breakout.
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi:
Field Marshal Tantawi,
chairman of the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces which took power
last February after Mubarak was unseated, will maneuver backwards and forwards
to keep a lid on the Islamists in parliament and in the streets. Presidential
elections will be postponed repeatedly. If Tantawi gets backing from the US and
the EU (unlike Mubarak), along with massive foreign aid, he stands half a chance
of succeeding. For our sake, I wish him luck.
lucky to live out his days in a Russian or Chinese retirement dacha – if he is
smart enough to get out alive soon. One year from now, Syria could easily be
sundered into five independent states: Alawite in the west, Kurdish in the
north, Druse in the south, Beduin in the east, with Aleppo a separate
city-state. For us, this is preferable to the continuation of the Assad regime –
which has partnered with Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah.
He’ll get “only” 68 percent of the Jewish vote in this November’s presidential
elections, instead of the 78% he won in 2008. Oy, what are we going to do with
Which is going to be the first major Western country
to move its embassy to western Jerusalem? After all, no one disputes that
western Jerusalem is and will be Israel’s capital in the context of any peace
treaty with the Palestinians.
Announcement of such a move could be billed
as a recognition of reality (as well as friendship to Israel), and could be
accompanied by a disclaimer statement that (country X) “does not at this point
take any position of the disposition of eastern Jerusalem – the sovereignty of
which will still be subject to negotiation.” Any takers?
The writer is director
of public affairs at the Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.