The importance of the vote today in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, is of epic proportions. On this vote lies so many items in disparate areas all tied together around Prime Minister Netanyahu. Almost a fortnight ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave his word to Minister of the Knesset Yaakov Katz (National Union) that he would not oppose his Regulation Bill which would negate the Supreme Court ruling for destruction of five residential buildings in the Givat HaUlpana section of Beit El community should MK Katz postpone its introduction for a two week period. Well, MK Katz complied with the leader of the coalition, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and for his compliance, Prime Minister Netanyahu has gone back on his word and threatens to dismiss any coalition Minister who dares oppose his wishes and support the legalization legislation. This has already caused two of the member parties of the coalition, Yisrael Beytenu and Shas, to choose to be absent as they had previously decided they would support the Regulation Bill. Their absence removes any possibility that their parties would be thrown from the coalition. There are still some members of the Prime Minister’s own party, Likud, who plan to challenge his authority and support the bill. It will remain to see if Netanyahu follows through on his threat to remove those voting for the Regulation Bill. Those who have stated their intent to vote in favor despite the threat to their positions are Ministers Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Gila Gamliel, Ayoob Kara and Daniel Hershkowitz.
So, why don’t we take a simple trip through the entire methods, manipulations, coercions and finagling done by Prime Minister Netanyahu in order to defeat those forces who had colluded to support the Regulation Bill and thus provide the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria some legal coverage against the political onslaught now being waged to destroy their communities, homes, lives, and in many cases livelihoods. When the destruction order first arrived at the front door of the Knesset after the Supreme Court decided that the five buildings in question in Givat HaUlpana, Beit El, the nationalist wing of Likud in concert with other nationalist Knesset members initiated a legislated solution to prevent the destruction and provide an alternative to future destructions. This was expected to be rejected by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and likely also Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Up to this case it had been assumed that Prime Minister Netanyahu was in agreement with the nationalist camp against the demolitions of communities in Judea and Samaria. This became the straw that would break the camel’s back. It also shined light on the real, true Netanyahu. Now the Prime Minister faced something he had been dancing deftly to avoid, actual legislation which had popular backing being introduced onto the floor of the Knesset with no conceivable way to prevent it short of preventing the demolition of HaUlpana by other methods. But that was a problem as Prime Minister Netanyahu was actually in favor of the demolitions and has secretively been favoring a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria surrendering the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority in similar manner as previous Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. So, Prime Minister Netanyahu faced a difficult situation as if he were to come out of the closet and play his cards in favor of the demolition his coalition would collapse and he would be forced to call for elections. This was not something favorable and held some pit falls for Netanyahu.
Prime Minister Netanyahu realized at the very start that should he come clean and admit to favoring demolitions, he would face an impossible battle as his party, Likud, has stated in its platform its position against the demolitions. This meant he could not reveal himself before the next elections were held, but they are not scheduled for about another year and a half. What was he to do? I have to hand it to Prime Minister Netanyahu; he came up with a brilliant plan which forced some who thought they were in opposition to the presumed nationalism of the Prime Minister to join him or face electoral oblivion. Netanyahu instead of announcing a position on the Ulpana demolition claimed that what he wished he could do was impossible with the slight majority held by his coalition and in order to gain a stronger position he was going to call for new elections. The nationalists took this as a sign that Netanyahu was behind them and was going to take their nationalist message and present it to an approving public and form a stronger and even more nationalists, pro-settler government in order to legalize all the communities in Judea and Samaria and put an end once and for all to the political demolitions being pushed by the extreme leftists and the post-Zionists. This placed the Kadima Party in a position where they were facing a loss of power of immense proportions. The polling showed that Kadima would fall from their current twenty-eight seats down to as few as six or as many as possibly nine, either way they were going to lose BIG!
The new leader of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and they conceived of a way for Kadima to avoid political oblivion, have Kadima join the coalition. It is even likely that Netanyahu confided in Shaul Mofaz that he secretly supported not only the demolitions, but a complete, unilateral withdrawal from the vast majority of the so-called West Bank. This gave Prime Minister Netanyahu his necessary super-coalition which was completely safe from any threat from any group or parties threatening to pull down the coalition and force new elections. Now, with Kadima on board, Prime Minister Netanyahu could actually lose every single member’s support of Likud Ministers, his own party, and the coalition would still stand. With this huge number in the coalition, Netanyahu was free to come out of the closet and admit to his support of demolitions beginning with the Ulpana neighborhood. Sure, he threw the nationalists a bone promising to build ten residences for every one demolished knowing full well that between having to get it through the bureaucracy and resist leftist challenges in the courts, including the anti-settlement Supreme Court, the promised units would likely never be built. Now we need to look at what Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to do down the road with remaining time before the next elections.
I cannot see any path where Prime Minister Netanyahu remains in a Likud Party without the expulsion of its nationalist faction who could find a home with the Jewish Home Party. This would likely end the hopes of Moshe Feiglin to head an electoral ticket and become Prime Minister himself. Barring the nationalists departing Likud, expect that at some time as the election nears that Prime Minister Netanyahu will announce that he and Shaul Mofaz are reinvigorating Kadima as the true middle-of-the-road political party it was supposed to be with the two of them sharing the top position. Netanyahu will head the ticket under the Kadima Party which will also include Ehud Barak and his short-lived Independence Party joining the new and improved Kadima Party. This will leave the Likud Party in disarray with this announcement coming too close to the elections to allow them to get their house in order and take stock of who left with Netanyahu and who remains in Likud. I actually hope that the nationalists and others who support ending these demolitions or are opposed to a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria giving the Palestinian Authority possession of vast stretches of land within their so-called West Bank regain control of the Likud Party. Even giving them all of the West Bank and even half of Jerusalem including all of the Old City will not end the terror war and claims of occupation by the Palestinian leadership. What comes next other than the likely unilateral disengagement or some similar form of complete surrender to the Palestinian terror machine is difficult to fathom, as if that would not be enough to endanger all of Israel sufficiently.
Would Netanyahu also give in to the Obama demands and return the Golan Heights to Syria once Assad has been removed and replaced by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood? I would not bet against it at this point. Whatever Prime Minister Netanyahu has in mind, odds are it will be as surprising as was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with his unilateral disengagement of Gaza which worked out so wondrously. One would think that the lesson of Sharon, Gaza and the ensuing rocket barrages and other difficulties would have taught even Netanyahu that giving land to the Palestinians in any manner is something that only will endanger Israel and her citizens, all of the citizens and not just the Jews. This move by Netanyahu to completely turn against those who elected him and break almost every promise he had made to MK Katz, the members of Likud, the coalition member parties, particularly Shas and Yisrael Beytenu, and to Israelis in general is heartbreaking and with any luck will take Prime Minister Netanyahu, Kadima Leader Shaul Mofaz, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and all those who follow their political lead to political oblivion and being unable to even garner sufficient votes to enable minimal seats in any future Knesset. I so dearly hope this is Netanyahu’s political Waterloo.
Beyond the Cusp