Monday, January 02, 2012

The Primaries: for the Soul of the Likud

By Tuvia Brodie

Right now, the leading political party in Israel, Likud, appears to have lost its soul. Instead, it has a political apostate named Benjamin Netanyahu, who serves as both head-of-Likud and Israel’s Prime Minister. Normally, of course, a political party has a formal statement of belief—a political soul. You vote for that party because you believe what it believes. You want that party in power because you want to see those beliefs promoted by national leadership. During a national election, you should be able to read a Party’s Platform—its statement of beliefs—and choose the political party that best matches your own political views.

That’s the theory of it. But reality doesn’t always support theory.

Take Likud, for example. Its Party Platform is very clear on several key Middle East issues. That Platform states that:

1. A unilateral Palestinian declaration of the establishment of a Palestinian state will constitute a fundamental and substantive violation of the agreements with the State of Israel and the scuttling of the Oslo and Wye accords. The government will adopt immediate stringent measures in the event of such a declaration.

2. The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.

3. Israel rejects out of hand… the relinquishment of parts of the Negev.

4. Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem

5. The presence of the Israeli police in eastern Jerusalem will be increased; The Likud government will act with vigor to continue Jewish habitation and strengthen Israeli sovereignty in the eastern parts of the city

6. The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty.

This Platform is both clear and explicit on the questions of Jerusalem and the Jordan River valley: they must stay within ‘Israel’. Furthermore, it commits to defend, support and protect Judea and Samaria. This was ‘Likud’ during the last election. It is why one voted for Likud. One could therefore reasonably expect the head-of-Likud as Prime Minister to be loyal to these words.

But Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have abandoned these ‘statements-of-belief’. He has rejected Likud’s soul. Exactly now, when the battle over Judea and Samaria represents one of the main battles for the future of Israel, Mr Netanyahu has turned his back on his Party’s beliefs. Instead of defending Judea and Samaria, he supports Leftist calls to demolish and destroy exactly what his Party has promised to build. He abandons East Jerusalem. He surrenders 250,000 dunams in the Negev to Arabs. He agrees to pre-1967 borders (meaning, 1949 borders—what Abba Eban is said to have called ‘the Auschwitz borders’) as a precondition to peace talks, a decision which automatically surrenders the entire Jordan River Valley and Judea and Samaria. If you look again at Likud’s Platform (above), Mr Netanyahu has unilaterally gutted it. In its place, he has chosen the call of the Left to divest and surrender; he embraces those who reject and scorn Likud’s basic beliefs. He has become the antithesis of Likud, not its most articulate spokesperson.

As new Likud primaries approach at the end of this month (January), Mr Netanyahu has taken an even harder line against Judea and Samaria. His subordinates rush to bulldoze homes before their morning coffee. He joins the Left to demonize those who publicly support his Party Platform. He has become predictable: if it’s Likud, he rejects it. He must know he is doing something wrong because now, after betraying his Party, he seeks to change primary rules so he can defeat those who embrace the Likud soul.

Opposing Mr Netanyahu for head-of-Likud in these up-coming primaries is Likud member Moshe Feiglin, whose language and actions have more completely matched the Likud Platform. Look at the Platform and listen to Mr Feiglin: the similarities are striking. The choice for Likud members is clear: Mr Netanyahu has committed to the Left. His recent actions validate that commitment. Mr Feiglin has chosen—in word and deed-- to commit to Likud. Mr Netanyahu rejects the right of the Jewish people to the Biblical land of Israel-- and his Party’s platform. Mr Feiglin rejects neither.

The bottom line? If Netanyahu wins, Likud loses its soul forever. If Feiglin wins, Likud gives Israel a true alternative to the Left. If you are a true Likud voter, there can be only one choice.

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