by Charles Lemos, Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 10:43:28 PM EDT
Barak Ravid writing in the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz paints a less than flattering view of the Likud government of Prime Minister Netanyahu. While other liberal progressive blogs ( Talking Points Memo, Firedoglake, and Newshoggers) have focused on comments that the Israeli Prime Minister refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama's senior aides: as "self-hating Jews," I am more struck by the description of Israel's government as being in an "atmosphere of permanent crisis."
An atmosphere of permanent crisis has surrounded Netanyahu's bureau ever since he took office, so it was no surprise that the press conference also had an air of panic. The five advisers - National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser, director general of the Prime Minister's Office Eyal Gabai, political adviser Ron Dermer and Nir Hefetz, who heads the public relations desk - arrived at the meeting without a prearranged, uniform message. Over and over, they cut each other off.
Hauser tried to convince the press that Netanyahu's zigzagging on the issue of value-added tax was a deliberate ploy coordinated with the other coalition parties. Arad once again lambasted U.S. President Barack Obama's refusal to honor understandings reached with his predecessor, George W. Bush, on the issue of the settlements, but argued that coordination with Washington on Iran had actually improved. Dermer emphasized Netanyahu's speech at Bar-Ilan University, which he said won international plaudits. And Hefetz denied that there was any panic in Netanyahu's bureau, attributing the friction there to "work-related pressure."
But despite the unified front they tried to present, it is clear that all of Netanyahu's aides dislike each other: They are constantly badmouthing each other and blaming each other for leaks. Arad, for example, demanded that Hauser undergo a lie-detector test and is now demanding the same of Hefetz. And the latter two say "it is impossible to work with" Arad.
Compounding the problem is an inexperienced bureau chief, Natan Eshel, and a former spokesman, Yossi Levy, who is still clinging to his office and refusing to give it up to his replacement, Hefetz - who, for his part, is kept out of half the discussions.
Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office.
If this is true, it doesn't bode well for the prospects for peace in the Middle East.