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Friday, August 28, 2009

Likud in revolt?

Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud party has scheduled two demonstrations for the coming week to express opposition to the 'settlement freeze' that Netanyahu is on the verge of signing with the United States.
The first, scheduled for Tuesday at Tel Aviv's Azrieli Tower, was organized by Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled. It is not officially an anti-Netanyahu rally but rather a "pro-Jerusalem event," and yet MKs who attend are expected to bash the deal the prime minister is negotiating with the Americans.

The second, set for September 9 at the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters, openly opposes any freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria and will launch a "National Forum" in the Likud that will actively oppose concessions to the US.

Three ministers have told organizers they will attend the event: Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein. Organizers still hope to attract Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon and Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin to the rally.


In a related matter, Pinchas Wallerstein, the director-general of the settlers' council, said on Thursday: "When Netanyahu talks of a Palestinian state, I hate it, but am not worried, because there will be no peace deal. When Netanyahu speaks about a settlement freeze, it's a death sentence for the settlement enterprise."


The prime minister could also have problems with Habayit Hayehudi, the most right-wing party in his coalition. Party chairman Daniel Herschkowitz toured Gush Etzion settlements and outposts on Thursday and expressed opposition to freezing construction there.

"It is forbidden to compromise on natural growth in the settlement blocs," he said. "The right of every family to grow is natural and fundamental in a democratic society. The government should settle the legality of Jewish communities that are known as unauthorized outposts even though they were built with the government's encouragement and funding."

The National Union, which is not part of the coalition, warned that Netanyahu would cave in to the United States and endanger Israelis.

"The blueprints of the Auschwitz camp that Netanyahu received in Germany should remind the frightened prime minister of what [former foreign minister] Abba Eban said - that the '67 borders were Auschwitz borders. The surrendering Likud is bringing us back there," National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari said.
Obviously, I agree with the protesters. The problem is that while they can bark loudly, they cannot really bite. We've been down the road before of a right-wing government that tries to give land away to the 'Palestinians.'

In 1992, the Shamir government was brought down by parties on the right who were angry that Shamir attended the Madrid conference. After Shamir lost the ensuing election, he admitted that his entire negotiation strategy at and after Madrid was to 'stall for time,' something to which the Right should not have objected. But by then it was too late, and we ended up - barely - with the Rabin - Peres government that brought us the Oslo farce and the infamous handshake on the White House lawn (arranged by none other than Rahm Emanuel) a little more than a year later.

In 1999, Netanyahu's first government was brought down by parties on the Right who were upset at Netanyahu's apparent willingness to make territorial concessions. Instead, we got the Barak - Ben Ami government that went to Camp David and Taba and literally tried to give the entire country away.

When the Right expresses opposition to Netanyahu's policies, I view that as a way to try to keep Netanyahu in line with the Likud's platform on which he was elected, and that's a good thing. But we really cannot let it get out of hand and run the risk of forcing the country into another election. The outcome may be even worse.


At 8:07 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel's Right has always lacked political maturity. A nine month freeze will not be the end of the world. Its not like anything new has been built for years. As long any deal leaves an exception for "natural growth" in existing communities, I'm not happy with it but I can live with it. Considering the US wanted a complete ban, period - its a significant achievement. Its not possible to always get everything one wants from life.


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