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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Netanyahu's dirty trick or Netanyahu's brilliant move?

The one night I close the computer by 1:30 am, the big news breaks at 2:30.... Prime Minister Netanyahu cut a deal during the night with Kadima party chairman Shaul Mofaz to add Kadima to the coalition. Let's start with why it happened and then we'll look at the implications.

Prime Minister Netanyahu did not want new elections, but felt forced into them by pressures regarding the Tal Law (the invalidated law that allowed yeshiva students to defer army service), and the prospect of the Supreme Court forcing the government to dismantle Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, which would have forced Netanyahu to confront the right in his own coalition. But when he saw at the Likud convention on Sunday that he was going to see his own party lurch sharply right (a process Netanyahu has been fighting for the last four years), Netanyahu felt he had to act.

Mofaz did not want to go to elections because it would have seen Kadima shrink from 29 seats to 14 or less according to current polls.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not want elections because polls showed his party would not make the minimum to stay in the Knesset.

The biggest losers in this are the Labor party, which stood to jump from five seats to 15, and Yair Lapid, whose new party stood to start out at 11 seats.

The current parties in the coalition - Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Jewish Home - are staying put for now. Yisrael Beiteinu is in danger of its leader being indicted. Given that Shas and UTJ are staying in, it seems unlikely that Yisrael Beiteinu will get the 'equal service' they are seeking to force all the yeshiva students into the army, and in fact, there is word this morning that Netanyahu has promised the two ultra-Orthodox parties that everything regarding the IDF will be done cooperatively.

Shas gains because it keeps Aryeh Deri from returning to the Knesset. Israel Radio reports that Shas is likely to go along with whatever replaces the Tal Law, while United Torah Judaism is likely to leave the coalition if the replacement of the Tal Law is not to its liking (as is likely to be the case). Well, maybe. I don't see what UTJ has to gain by leaving the coalition.

The Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El is unlikely to be destroyed as the Supreme Court has decreed. The country overwhelmingly opposes its destruction, and either the Supreme Court will 'reconsider' or it will face the reality of a government coalition that will pass a law circumventing their ruling (as the Knesset is entitled to do). That's the attraction that keeps Jewish Home in the coalition.

Aside from Labor and Lapid, another potential loser is Moshe Feiglin, whom Netanyahu is trying to expel from the Likud. Netanyahu's best chance of winning that battle is to fold Kadima back into the Likud. Will that happen? That depends on the egos involved.

Don't bet on the election system being changed - something that comes up every time there is a large coalition. Likud - or a Likud merged with Kadima - are the only parties with any incentive to do that right now. No one else is strong enough. The only way we will change to direct election of Knesset members is if we get a single party winning a majority, or two parties that can form a coalition by themselves. That's not the case now.

The budget seems likely to pass, which was another problem Netanyahu was trying to resolve.

And Iran? That's probably where Netanyahu has the most freedom of action, at least until November 6. Obama can't do anything to stop him if a coalition of 94 MK's out of 120 decides to attack, with another 15 supporting it from the opposition.

Those are my first thoughts on the drama that happened last night. I think it's a dirty trick against all the losers described here, but I also think it's a brilliant move on Netanyahu's part. We'll see how it plays out - I suspect they won't be as dramatic as a lot of people this morning think they are going to be.

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

Aside from Labor and Lapid, another potential loser is Moshe Feiglin, whom Netanyahu is trying to expel from the Likud.


Tch Tch, your Banned-From-Entering-UK, hero Moshe Feiglin is going to be ousted out? Who would have thought Bibi had an iota of direction, but wonders never cease.

Shall I send you a box of tissues?


And Iran? That's probably where Netanyahu has the most freedom of action, at least until November 6.

Bwa ha haha haaaaaaaaa still dreaming of an attack on Iran?

If I were you, i'd concentrate on your comisseration letter to Moshe Feiglin,

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Akiva said...

Nice analysis, thanks.


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