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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Likud 'rightward shift' defies conventional wisdom - UPDATED WITH VIDEO

The 'conventional wisdom' in the world's media is that the victory by Moshe Feiglin (pictured) (who finished 20th in the Likud's Monday primary) and other 'extreme right' politicians would hurt the Likud in the general election. The conventional wisdom is wrong. A poll taken after Monday's primary shows the Likud gaining votes despite the fact that Feiglin - to whom party leader Binyamin Netanyahu has taken an irrational dislike - is in a 'safe spot' on the Likud's list.
The poll, conducted on Tuesday under the supervision of Tel Aviv University statistics professor Camil Fuchs, found that if the general election were held today, Likud would win 36 seats, Kadima would place second with 27 seats, and Labor would trail behind with 12.

Further analysis indicates Likud winning two seats from right-wing parties (one from Shas and one from Yisrael Beiteinu) and Labor winning one from Meretz-Yahad and one from Kadima. Meretz-Yahad fell to six seats from seven in the previous poll.

Previous polls ordered by Netanyahu showed that the list's inclusion of Moshe Feiglin, the leader of a right-wing faction within Likud, was liable to cost the party four or five seats. But the Haaretz-Dialog poll does not back that up.
In fact, Feiglin's win was part of a hard slap in the face that Netanyahu received on Monday night.
The Likud list selected in the primary was a kind of slap in Netanyahu's face. For weeks he exerted a lot of effort in attempting to form a centrist list filled with moderates, recruiting [Uzi] Dayan and [Assaf] Hefetz even though he knows Likud is not their party. But it didn't help - Netanyahu's picks are out of the picture.

Instead, the Likud members considered the party rebels, a term dating from their opposition to the 2005 disengagement plan during the Sharon government, are making a comeback. These include Nass, Gila Gamliel, Ehud Yatom and Michael Ratzon. It turns out that unlike generals, longtime party rebels neither die nor fade away - they always come back.

In addition to fighting Feiglin - and the party chairman did manage to get him off the top 10, even though he didn't succeed in kicking him off the list - Netanyahu succumbed to the temptation to open a second front, against Silvan Shalom, so that he would not be the No. 2 figure on the list.

Netanyahu won that battle; Shalom got sixth place (seventh after Netanyahu). But Netanyahu was not the only one responsible for that victory. He can thank Feiglin, who did not include Shalom on his list of recommended candidates, because Shalom supported the disengagement and helped Ariel Sharon market it around the world.


Netanyahu's campaign against Feiglin ended up making the right-wing leader a star. Tuesday night's news broadcasts made it seem like Feiglin had been chosen to fill the No. 2 spot rather than No. 20 and that he would be replacing Netanyahu as chairman any minute. That's not the situation, of course, but in the world of Israeli politics, it's the image that counts.
For those of you who think Netanyahu is going to be the right winger leader who stops making concessions to the 'Palestinians,' please go back and read this. The only thing that might stop him is if the Likud has enough right leaning Knesset members to hold him back. Monday night was a big step in that direction.

Change you can believe in.


Here's a video report from Arutz Sheva. Let's go to the videotape.


At 9:35 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Jewish nationalist views are now represented in a major Israeli party. The future of Israel is Judaism, despite the efforts of Israel's secular leftist elites to discredit them and stamp them out. This has major implications both for Israel's domestic and foreign orientation. Having Jewish views represented in the highest circles of power herald another era different from that of secular Zionism that founded the state and the Oslo Era post-Zionism that asserted Israel transcended both Zionism and Judaism. Its too early to give a name to the new ideology that's arisen in the Likud.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Without that "rightward shift" in the Likud, the likelihood is all too great a Likud government would be little different in practice from Kadima. What will constrain Bibi from going to the Left is the fact his party's center of gravity is well to the right and there are few moderates left in the Likud. Bibi will end up being a prisoner again but by the fact his Cabinet colleagues will be much more conservative than him and whether he likes it or not - their views cannot be lightly dismissed.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

Unfortunately, PM's are relatively uncontrained by party platform or make up.

Olmert is considerably further left than much of his party and MK's from Kadima, however through his guile has been able to move the party to the left. While it is true that Kadima was never rooted in ideology, save for its devotion to unilateral withdrawl from Yesha generally and Gaza in particular, the lesson of Kadima shows that the PM can move the party in the direction he wants.

Of course, the classic example of this is Sharon's defiance of the Likud central comittee's edict not to withdraw from Gaza. Instead of being pulled by his party, Sharon left it.

Carl seems a bit more optimistic than I that the presence of the nationalists in general and the maighut yehudit in particular in the government will help keep any freelancing by Bibi in check. I am particularly pessimistic as it appears that rather forming a coalition of right wing parties, BiBi seems intent on a national unity government with Kadima and Labor, who will no doubt be loathe to ditch the annapolis and saudi plan, suicide pacts.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

What Bibi wanted was a carbon clone of Kadima - a centrist party with a little right wing flavoring. The voters just happened to upset his plans. I don't really see who is going to stop Israel from committing national suicide. Bibi isn't going to be the guy to do it.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J. Lichty, I agree with you. Netanyahu will veer left. He has been for years.

It will take several primary election cycles within the Likud to wake up the party's central commitee to the fact that the real parasites in the party are Netanyahu and his cohorts, not Manhigut Yehudit.

If the party fails to weed out the phonies, it will simply turn into what the Labor party used to be 20 years ago.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman, there is absolutely nothing "right wing" about Kadima, except for the parents of some of its better known members.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

Shy - I don't know that it is so much Bibi veering left as it is him playing the politics of the center.

I think Bibi has certain issues that he is willing to compromise his own beliefs about to solidify power and gain in other issues.

He may be willing to play lip service to the mother-may-I game with the quartet, US administration and the phony PA, to gain maneuvering room on Iran, Hamas, Hizbollah and his necessary economic reforms.

While I am an right wing ideologue, I can afford to be from where I sit.

While I am wary of Bibi, I also recognize that his statements to the EU and about his desire to keep talking to the PA, are a political move. He needs to keep the EU and Obama off his back until the election in order to neutralize that line of attack by Livni and Labor i.e. that Netanyahu will ruin Israel's image in the world (kind of the opposite of the Obama message - i.e. I will repair the US image in the world).

At the end of the day, Bibi does have mostly right wing and sound beliefs, but the questions is upon which of those he will compromise for what he perceives as political reasons or necessity.

He will be far better than Kadima and Olmert, but not right enough for many of us.


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