The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, yesterday finally turned his back on the centrist agenda which brought him to power earlier this year by bringing into his coalition government one of the country's most outspoken rightwing politicians.But how far can the world's most right wing elected government go? In fact the absurdity of considering this to be a genuine move to the right rather than just a more open one than usual was pointed up by Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz over a week ago.
The return to government of Avigdor Lieberman, who has called for Israel's borders to be redrawn to exclude its Arab citizens, signals a more hawkish policy. He will be made a deputy prime minister with responsibility for "strategic threats", particularly Iran.
Peace-seekers should support the move to bring Avigdor Lieberman into the government. It is impossible to understand the opposition of several Labor party ministers to having Yisrael Beitenu join the government after all, just what precisely are they afraid will happen? That Israel will embark on an unnecessary war? That the settlement enterprise will be reinforced? That the government will reject Syria's peace proposal? That racism toward Arab citizens of Israel will increase, or that the occupation army will be cruel to the Palestinians?So Israel moves to the overt. right then.
Indeed, the government in its current constellation is already providing all of this, abundantly, and Lieberman's participation would only remove its camouflage.