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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Will Netanyahu hold firm against the 'Palestinians'?

On Monday afternoon US time, there was a bloggers' conference call with former Prime Minister and Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu. The conference call was sponsored by One Jerusalem. Apparently, someone there is ticked off at me for a question I asked Netanyahu because they did not send me the link to the audio broadcast of the call, a link which, for the record, can be found here (Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit).

As an aside, if anyone listens to the tape, I'd be curious to hear whether my question was edited out. For the record, the moderator objected while I was asking my question and said that we were only supposed to ask 'policy questions,' and I told him that if he didn't interrupt me I would ask a policy question: How did Netanyahu propose to undo the effects of the Gaza expulsion. I didn't know One Jerusalem had become the Netanyahu/Likud campaign, and that we were only supposed to lob softballs at him yesterday, but I am going to send this post to someone at One Jerusalem (yes, I have met two of these people in person) and see what - if anything - they have to say about this.

For those who don't feel like sitting through the half hour call, I'll give you the shortened version of what I asked and what Netanyahu answered, because John Hawkins (whom I emailed during the call to tell him that Netanyahu was being less than candid) wrote it up. First John's question, and then mine, which came immediately after his:

Was giving Gaza a mistake? (From Me [John. CiJ])

I think the unilateral withdrawal was a big mistake. The 2nd mistake was the abandonment of the Philadelphi corridor. The ceasefire also allowed the terrorists to rearm. However, we want to focus on the future instead of looking back at the past. We need to make sure there are no more rockets fired.

You voted in favor of the disengagement. What can we do to undo the effects? (From CiJ)

I didn't vote in favor of it. When the decision did go through, I resigned in protest. We shouldn't repeat that mistake with the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, or anywhere else.

He didn't vote in favor of it? Let's go to the videotape. Unfortunately, the English subtitles that were there when I first posted this seem to have disappeared, but starting at 1:55 of this video, Netanyahu says he would vote in favor of 'disengagement' in a national referendum and in the end he votes in favor of it in the Knesset.

I'd like to give you the chronology of Netanyahu's 'opposition' to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza, but first, time is running out, so if you have not voted in the last 24 hours, please go here and vote for my blog, Israel Matzav, as the Best Midsize Blog. Thanks.

And now, a chronology of Netanyahu's 'opposition' to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza.
People seem to have forgotten - as he wanted them to - that Netanyahu stayed in the cabinet and voted for the expulsion from Gaza almost to the very end. Netanyahu was the only leader in the Likud who could have mobilized people against the expulsion. He didn't do it:
On October 26 [,2004], the Knesset gave preliminary approval for the plan with 67 for, 45 against, 7 abstentions, and 1 member absent. Netanyahu and three other cabinet ministers from Sharon's ruling Likud government threatened to resign unless Sharon agreed to hold a national referendum on the plan within fourteen days.

On November 9, Netanyahu withdrew his resignation threat, saying "In this new situation [the death of Yasser Arafat], I decided to stay in the government". Following the vote fourteen days earlier, and Sharon's subsequent refusal to budge on the referendum issue, the three other cabinet ministers from the Likud party backed down from their threat within days.

On December 30, Sharon sealed a deal with the Labor Party to form a coalition, with Shimon Peres becoming Vice Premier, restoring the government's majority in the Knesset.

On February 16, 2005, the Knesset finalized and approved the plan with 59 in favor, 40 opposed, 5 abstaining. A proposed amendment to submit the plan to a referendum was rejected, 29-72.

On March 28, the Knesset again rejected a bill to delay the implementation of the disengagement plan by a vote of 72 to 39. The bill was introduced by a group of Likud MKs who wanted to force a referendum on the issue. [6]

On March 17, the IDF Southern Command issued a military order prohibiting Israeli citizens who do not reside in the Gaza Strip settlements from relocating to that area.

On August 7, Netanyahu resigned just prior to the cabinet ratification of the first phase of the disengagement plan by a vote of 17 to 5. Netanyahu blamed the Israeli government for moving "blindly along" with the disengagement by not taking into account the expected upsurge in terrorism.
The expulsion began on August 15, 2005.
Did Netanyahu answer my question honestly on the conference call? Let's say that his answer was nuanced.

Of the three major party leaders, Netanyahu is to the right of Livni and Barak. But that's not saying much. If next month's elections result in a Likud - Kadima - Labor coalition with Netanyahu as Prime Minister (in place of Olmert), Livni as foreign minister chasing Hillary Clinton (instead of chasing Condi Clueless) and Barak as defense minister, and 29 Likud MK's instead of 29 Kadima MK's, have we really accomplished anything? And while there are MK's in Netanyahu's list in 'realistic' slots who will try to keep him honest (Benny Begin and Moshe Yaalon come to mind), I believe that if Likud goes into a coalition with Kadima and Labor, we will get more of the last three years and maybe even worse. I believe a Netanyahu-Livni-Barak government will pander to Abu Mazen just like the Olmert-Livni-Barak government has. That's why I believe it's critical that parties to the right of the Likud occupy a blocking position in the next Knesset.

I believe that Daniel Pipes would agree with me.
More dismaying even than Olmert's ineptitude is that the Israeli election a month from now pits three leaders of his same ilk. Two of them (Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak) currently serve as his main lieutenants, while two (Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu) failed badly in their prior prime ministerial stints. [For those who need a reminder, here's why Netanyahu is not the answer. CiJ]

Looking beyond Olmert and his potential successors comes the worst news of all, namely that no one at the upper echelons of Israel's political life articulates the imperative for victory. For this reason, I see Israel as a lost polity, one full of talent, energy and resolve, but lacking direction.
Enjoy the Gaza operation while it's happening, fellow Israelis. If we win a clear victory, it may be our last victory for a while (at least until the run-up to the next election). Will Netanyahu hold firm against the 'Palestinians'? Don't bet on it.


I have been assured by a One Jerusalem representative that they did not have time to send out the link and that there was no plan not to send it to me.


At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why I believe it's critical that parties to the right of the Likud occupy a blocking position in the next Knesset.

No matter how many times you repeat saying that, mathematics is still against you. Your vote will go to a shrill voice on the back-benches.

And the left is laughing at your grand opposition plans. They have been for decades.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl and Shy Guy, Israel doesn't have the kind of leaders she deserves. But she does have a people she deserves. By that I mean is how average Jews have all united in the defense of the country. The one striking note in the last two weeks is that in a country normally known for raucous demonstrations, there has not been one significant antiwar demonstration. They have been huge abroad but virtually non-existent in Israel. And you won't find a politician who is opposed to the war. Average Israelis have a healthy survive instinct and they expect the government to buck up and win - regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. Some day, Israel will have leaders with the mettle displayed by its people.


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