Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The art of compromise?

Last night, I was out in the car around 9:45 pm when an urgent bulletin was broadcast on Israel Radio. Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu had entered the President's residence to meet with Shimon Peres. There were three possibilities. Netanyahu could be reporting to Peres that he had succeeded in forming a government, but we knew that was not true. Netanyahu could be asking Peres for a two-week extension from Friday's deadline to which he is entitled by law, but it's too soon for that, so we know that was not true. Or Netanyahu could be seeking Peres' help in persuading Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Labor leader Ehud Barak to join his government. Yes, Netanyahu is still seeking a government with the Left.

In Tuesday's JPost column (undoubtedly written before Monday night's Israel Radio report), Caroline Glick seeks to explain why. She blames... Ketzeleh (pictured shaking hands with Netanyahu).
THE ONE POLITICIAN who has been outspoken in opposing the mass release of terrorists has been MK Ya'acov (Ketzeleh) Katz, the leader of the National Union party. Together with the families of terror victims who oppose the government's intention to release their relatives' murderers, Katz has been the loudest voice in politics stridently opposing the deal. He has made clear that it will endanger the country and guarantee the murder and abduction of still more Israelis.

Katz and the National Union have it right on this issue. Indeed, they have it right on just about every major strategic issue they have championed. From their opposition to the failed Oslo process to their opposition to the failed Camp David summit, from their opposition to the withdrawal from south Lebanon and Gaza to their opposition to the failed road map peace process and the failed Annapolis peace process, the National Union has been right all along. It has always stayed true to its principles.

One might think that given the National Union's consistent track record that it would be the largest party in the Knesset. Surely voters would reward it for its wisdom. But one of course would be wrong.

The National Union received four seats in the Knesset. Its sister party, Habayit Hayehudi won three mandates. The two parties ran separately despite their ideological and cultural affinity because their members simply couldn't get along. They couldn't compromise on who would appear where on the party list. [Some of you may recall that I was highly critical of both parties for that, but my perception is that it was more HaBayit HaYehudi's fault than National Union's. It's HaBayit HaYehudi that keeps insisting over and over again that it's not going to cooperate with National Union to the extent that the two nearly did not enter into a vote-sharing agreement. CiJ]

And this is the beginning of the story.
Glick goes on to explain how the ideological purity of National Union and its ideological predecessors brought down Israel's last two right-wing governments.
In 1992, angry that Likud under prime minister Yitzhak Shamir bowed to US pressure and participated in the Madrid peace conference, Tehiya brought down his government. In so doing, it brought in Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and brought the country the Oslo process and Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

In 1999, angry at Netanyahu for bowing to US pressure and agreeing to the Wye Plantation accords, the National Union brought down his government. In so doing, it brought in Ehud Barak and Yossi Beilin, the withdrawal from Lebanon and the Camp David summit.

In all, the total of Israelis who have been killed due to Oslo, the withdrawal from Lebanon and the Palestinian terror war which followed Camp David comes to around 2,000. The country's weakened position today in the US and Europe as well as in the Arab world, would have been inconceivable in 1992.
Glick goes on to explain that National Union has never learned that politics is the art of compromise.

At Shiloh Musings, Batya believes that Glick has it wrong.
But why should the only honest, clear-thinking party back down and conform to the Israeli PC disillusions? Don't blame the National Union and its predecessors, Techiya and Moledet, for Israel's problems. Just like Pinocchio endangered himself and Gepetto by not listening to Jiminy Cricket, Israeli politicians who followed American orders, rather than do what was best for Israel, must admit their fundamental mistakes.


The Likud's tragic weakness has always been its desire to show that it's not an "extremist Right wing party."

That's why Menachem Begin defied his voters and supporters when taking office, in 1977, and gave the post-Yom Kippur War failed Moshe Dayan the authority to decide policy.

That's why Yitzchak Shamir agreed to go to the Madrid Conference and didn't pack and leave with a parting: "אין עם מי לדבר Ain im mi l'daber. There's nobody to speak to." After Arab terrorists shot at a bus full of innocent Israeli women and children on their way to a demonstration. The terrorists murdered two, my good friend and neighbor, Rachella Druk, mother of seven and the bus driver, Yitzchak Rofeh. A number of children were also injured. Shamir should have used this as an example of why it's impossible to negotiate with murdering terrorists.


Glick shouldn't blame Techiya. Shamir should have left the conference and apologized to Techiya and the Israeli People for his "momentary" weakness. Techiya would have then rejoined the government, and then we never would have had to cope with the increased terrorism caused by the Peres-Rabin Oslo Accords which gave even more advanced weapons to the Arab terrorists and facilitated the horrendous situation we're in now.

As a Techiya, Moledet and now National Union voter and supporter, I expect my party to be the conscience of the nation. Somebody has to be. Glick sure isn't. I don't want my MK's haggling over ministry perks like the NRP.
Well, yes. But according to Glick what's being haggled over this time is ... ministerial perks.
In the current round of talks, Livni has reportedly maintained her demands, but now Netanyahu is reportedly accepting them - at least partially. The question that needs to be asked is what has changed in three weeks? Why has Netanyahu decided that Livni's previously unacceptable demands are now acceptable? The only reasonable answer is the National Union. Last week Katz scuttled negotiations with Likud because it refused his demand for the Construction and Housing Ministry. On Thursday, he joined hands with Habayit Hayehudi chairman MK Daniel Herschkowitz and announced that neither of the two parties would join Netanyahu's government if he doesn't meet all of their demands, including the Ministry of Education for Herschkowitz. Without the two parties, Netanyahu lacks a parliamentary majority.

It is possible that Katz and Herschkowitz are bluffing. In fact, it is likely that they are. But what their behavior shows clearly is that Netanyahu is correct when he says that a coalition that relies on them is inherently unstable. And so, he has moved back into Kadima's orbit.

If the Olmert-Livni-Barak government goes ahead with its plans to spring hundreds of mass murderers from prison in its last days in office, the threat they will unleash will just be added to the long list of serious threats that our strategically delusional leftist government has created and expanded during its tenure in office. It would be the height of irony - and tragedy - if due to the Right's proven political incompetence, the same political Left remains in power as the main partners in the Netanyahu government and so be given yet another opportunity to ruin the country.
Those of you who are longtime readers know that I have been critical of Netanyahu and that despite the fact that I'm generally enamored of Caroline Glick's columns, I have been critical of her fealty for Netanyahu. In this case, however, I believe that Glick has it right. The only other explanation I have heard for National Union's demands is that they are seeking a pledge from Netanyahu that he will make no territorial concessions. Of course I'm against territorial concessions too in any foreseeable circumstances. But a pledge like that is meaningless. Ask the Jews who were expelled from Gush Katif.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon ran for Prime Minister as leader of the Likud against Amram Mitzna, the Labor party mayor of Red Haifa. Mitzna's platform centered on a 'disengagement' from Gaza, which Sharon opposed. We all know what happened. Pledges like the one allegedly being sought by National Union are meaningless. And Ketzeleh knows that as well as I do.

That leaves 'ministerial perks' as the reason National Union and HaBayit HaYehudi are pushing Netanyahu into Livni's arms. And that's short-sighted, foolish, dangerous and wrong.


At 11:59 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I don't agree with Caroline Glick's uncritical admiration for Bibi but I think she's right that Israel's nationalist parties have never figured out how to break out from being perceived as a "fringe" party to the mainstream. I think it can be done without eschewing philosophy or principles. But it does mean considerable tactical flexibility - what is the best way to strengthen the Land Of Israel? The answer should be obvious to National Union/Habayit Yehudi - keep the Left out of power. There's not much they can do sitting on the opposition benches to affect government policy. Israel does not need to return to the failed policies of the past.


Post a Comment

<< Home