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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Likud running scared of Lieberman

The poll results I discussed on Tuesday night, and the Likud's internal polls that show Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party as being even stronger than that poll, have got the Likud's leaders running scared.
While some Likud members say the party should start attacking Lieberman openly, party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is reluctant to do so, lest it hurt him among groups like Russian immigrants, where Lieberman is popular. Nevertheless, party officials are seeking a way to send wavering voters a clear message: "If you vote for Lieberman, you are liable to get Tzipi Livni as prime minister."

Likud officials said that if the Kadima chairwoman is asked to form a government, it is quite likely that Lieberman would join it, for two reasons. First, two of Lieberman's flagship issues are changing the system of government and instituting civil marriage, and Livni would happily cooperate on both. But Netanyahu is committed to Shas, which opposes both these proposals.

Second, Lieberman has already expressed a willingness for far-reaching compromises with the Palestinians, including the transfer of Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to a Palestinian state. Hence he and Livni could find common ground on diplomatic issues as well.

"Lieberman is a rightist only in his statements against Israeli Arabs," one Likud official said. "But on diplomatic issues, he could find himself in Livni's camp, under certain circumstances. Therefore, if there are rightist voters who think that by voting for Lieberman they would strengthen him within a Netanyahu government, they may be in for a surprise after the elections," the official said.
The truth be told, I believe that they have Lieberman pegged correctly, and I wish they would start attacking him on those issues. But they won't because it would be the pot calling the kettle black. Netanyahu is willing to make the very same concessions Lieberman is willing to make. And by the way, I am largely in favor of changing the system of government as well.
"And you shouldn't forget that he has already sat for more than a year in [Ehud] Olmert's government. If people understand that Lieberman is not an automatic partner of Likud, maybe they would think twice and return to us."

Likud is also beginning a billboard campaign today that sends the same message in a subtler way. "A big Likud means a stable government," the signs will read, in the hopes of persuading people to vote Likud rather than other rightist parties.
People wouldn't be looking to vote for rightist parties (and note that I am not saying 'other rightist' parties) if Bibi hadn't screwed Moshe Feiglin and exposed himself as a slicker talking Livni. People wouldn't be looking to vote for rightist parties if Bibi admitted that he made a mistake in supporting the Gaza expulsion instead of lying and saying he opposed it. People wouldn't be looking to vote for rightist parties if they knew where Bibi stood on the issues instead of him trying to be all things to all people and sending Benny Begin to tell right-wing audiences what they want to hear.
Internal Likud polls show Yisrael Beiteinu up to 18 seats, and Likud officials believe the party could go as high as 20. At the same time, Kadima has not been dropping the way Likud had hoped it would. As a result, the gap between Likud and Kadima has been steadily narrowing.

Some Likud officials are afraid that Livni and Lieberman have already formed an alliance. But even if they have not, Yisrael Beiteinu's rising power is a threat.

"How did we let him get so big?" one Likud official asked. "Two months ago, there was a significant gap between Likud and Lieberman, and now Lieberman will soon be in second place. This changes the whole coalition picture. He could join Livni. He doesn't work for Bibi."

Lieberman, for his part, has no intention of announcing whom he will recommend as prime minister before the elections. However, his associates say he will not join any government without being allowed to vote his conscience on issues of religion and state - a condition Shas is likely to have trouble accepting.
I'm not voting for Lieberman either, and for the same reason I won't vote for Bibi.

Decide who you are Bibi. After Wye and Hebron and your almost giving away the Golan, we don't trust you.


At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not voting for Lieberman either, and for the same reason I won't vote for Bibi.

Since our elections are party oriented, as long as you let the dominant party leaders do as they please in contradiction to the party's own platform, you accomplish zilch by voting for a party that will simultaneously shout and twiddle its thumbs while sitting uselessly in the opposition.

A vote for the Likud can be either a vote for Netanyahu or against him. But if you are against him, it is only from within the Likud that you can sway any influence to stifle Bibi's monstrous proposals.

You'll also be fed up with hearing me repeat "I told you so" after next week's elections. :)

At 11:27 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Lieberman's talk of patriotism and getting tough on the Arabs has attracted Jews, not all of necessarily Rightists. Jews of all stripes are fed up with the incessant Arab demands on Israel and the political establishment has been slow to take notice. As for Lieberman's wanting to redraw the borders to move the Arabs out of Israel, the idea of eliminating Israel's 20% Arab minority is quite attractive... they're all Palestinians and the net loss of the Wadi Ara would be more than made up by adding a huge number of Jews in Judea and Samaria so its a wash. The Left's idea of separation is turned on its head. And the main losers would be Israel's leftist parties who would no longer be able to appeal to the Arab vote to remain politically viable. So its not just the Likud that is scared of Lieberman. The political establishment is scared of the Jews.

At 7:26 PM, Blogger DemoCaster said...

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