The prime minister’s weakness is going to mean that the rules will change, and even if new elections are called, whether before or after the Attorney General’s decision, he will have to convince the voter to vote for him, even though he is suspected or accused of wrongdoing.
In the immediate phase, Eldad Yaniv and Meni Naftali’s great plan did not succeed. Strategically, the demonstrations that they led were supposed to end with the prime minister announcing his resignation as a result of the recommendations issued by the Israel Police. But
Netanyahu acted according to his own scenario, and meanwhile he has managed to maintain order in the party and the coalition. In the process, however, he has paid a heavy price as a result of the investigations, and since Wednesday, he has been living in a new and not so wonderful world.
He is now politically weakened and fragile; his fate is not only in the hands of the Attorney General, but also in the hands of his own political camp. And in this camp, those behind the tight defensive front line can be expected to force him into a change of policy: to stop talking like a rightist but acting like a leftist!
The disappointment of the two who led the demonstrations against Netanyahu also resulted, apparently, in them no longer demonstrating together. The strategy that they concocted was meant to break Netanyahu’s spirit with the revelation of the police’s recommendations, and force him to call for immediate elections. Netanyahu blocked this process by rejecting the legitimacy of therecommendations, at a devastating cost to himself. Among other things, it increased the motivation of the investigators and the Police Commissioner to hound him. But by doing this, as of this week, Netanyahu has secured for himself some quiet, even if fragile and tense, in the party and the coalition.
And it is precisely against this backdrop that Netanyahu finds himself confronted with a new political world, in which a new relationship is forming between the Prime Minister and his constituents, his members of Knesset and ministers, not to mention the coalition partners. One sign of this was seen on Monday (Feb. 12), when Netanyahu mistakenly said that he is discussing the issue of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria with the American administration, and afterward was
reprimanded and denied it.
This sort of slip-up is uncharacteristic of him, and testifies to the degree of pressure that he feels from his political base. It is also clear how disgusted he is by the limited application of sovereignty that his party is pressing him to carry out. The practical line that he has led through all the years of his leadership is directly opposite from the world view of his party and his camp. But his present weakness will change the rules.
When Ariel Sharon was under investigation and there was a recommendation to bring him to trial, he went in the opposite direction: he sold out the voters and his own world view in order to be protected by the radicals of the opposing camp. He assumed that the Attorney General would not dare bring a prime minister to trial who was carrying out the “dramatic political process” that the Left desired. Amazing as it is, he was right.
Meanwhile, times and people have changed, and Netanyahu has adopted the opposite strategy: to attack the police and the legal authorities with all his might. This left him no choice but to shelter in his own camp.
Meanwhile, the Right and the Likud have also changed. They are no longer satisfied with deerskin easy chairs and freely flowing budgets to affiliated groups, but brazenly demand to direct state policy in accordance with its own worldview. Actually, in everything connected with settlement and our holdings in Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu is ideologically isolated in relation to his party and his voters. Shortly, there will be a series of initiatives that he would be happy
to crush, but if he does that now, he will be severely endangering his political fate.
It may be that in the coming weeks we will still see the Likud automatically backing its leader. But this will only hold for a short time. Netanyahu will have to pay in ideological coin in order to continue his term leading the government. And even when new elections are announced, whether before or after the Attorney General’s decision, he will have to prove to the voters that it is worthwhile to vote for someone like him, who is suspected or accused of wrongdoing.
Harbingers of Sovereignty
The Prime Minister’s misstep this week regarding the Trump administration and sovereignty in Judea and Samaria illustrate not only the degree of pressure that Netanyahu was under just before the
recommendation by the police, but also the tremendous power of the campaign that is being waged within the party and his camp. The immediate background is MK Yoav Kish’s proposal to apply Israeli sovereignty in the areas of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, in accordance with the decision of the Likud Central Committee two months ago. But the matter of applying sovereignty is much deeper, and it signifies a change of direction for the governing camp, in everything regarding Israeli control in Judea and Samaria.
According to his actions, Netanyahu is comfortable with the current situation, where the Right-wing government implements the policy of the Oslo Accords. But he sees the change of tone in his court, and is trying to crush it and do away with it. But it seems that this time, the old methods will not help. MK Kish’s proposal for the application of sovereignty is a limited preliminary step, which expresses a broader consensus within the Likud and the Right in general. Kish has also formulated a much broader plan, in which the Oslo Accords would be nullified, a Palestinian autonomy would be created on about 40% of the territories of Judea and Samaria, and the State of Israel would apply its rule and jurisdiction in most of the territory, including
the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert. He is not the first one to present a plan of this sort. Similar plans have been proposed by Naftali Bennett and prominent intellectuals of the Right in recent years. In fact, the accepted line in the Likud, in HaBayit HaYehudi and the influential entities comprising the government today is the application of our law and jurisdiction in all territories where there is sparse Arab population, while granting
limited autonomy to the Arab population centers, from Jenin to Hevron.
Anyone looking for proof of a coalition “bon-ton”, found it in the conference of the newspaper Besheva, which was held in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Starting with Gideon Saar, through Zeev Elkin, Tzipi Hotovely and others, Netanyahu found himself almost totally ideologically isolated in his own home, in everything related to sovereignty, regarding the Palestinian Authority and the future of Judea and Samaria. Today he would not even consider saying what he did in the Bar Ilan speech, which was the outcome of the hysteria resulting from Barack Obama’s Cairo speech.
One of the expressions of this strong stream is the initiative of two women who are residents of Judea and Samaria, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, who, six years ago, set out in a consciousness-raising campaign among the Right, to promote the application of Israeli sovereignty. Their view is different from Kish’s, Bennett’s and also mine, but they succeeded to open hearts and doors. The argument with the Left does not interest them, so they turned inward, to prove that
now is the time to present a positive plan from the Right and not only to reject the Left’s plan.
The policy that is accepted by almost all (on the Right) is that of Kish and Bennett, which annexes most of the territory to the State of Israel, but includes not more than 100 thousand additional Arab voters. Now, after Abu Mazen has solemnly declared the death of the Oslo Accords, it is easier to do this from a legal point of view, but clearly, it is a complex and sensitive course of action that will take several years. Sensitive, but the only possible option.
The Left, with characteristic arrogance, continues to push for the same bloody and disastrous mistakes that it has committed in the past. After all of its ideas have been tried and have failed, it is now conducting a fear mongering campaign. Once, it was promises of Peace Now and warnings about the demographic specter, now it is the danger of a bi-national state and apartheid.
Just as the demographic threat has dissolved, and the promised peace has not arrived, the present demons are also baseless. The application of Israeli sovereignty in Area C will prevent the establishment of a bi-national state since there will be very few additional Arab voters in the State of Israel. The formulation of autonomy in the large Arab population centers in Judea and Samaria is the lesser evil, even from the point of view of the Arab population, which is incited and oppressed by the PLO leaders. So even if the discussion of Yoav Kish’s limited sovereignty plan is postponed this week, it surely will happen. The political system will be marching in that direction quite soon.
Translated as a public service by the Sovereignty Movement www.ribonut.co.il
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