Beyond the Cusp

June 6, 2012

Time’s Up; Netanyahu’s Game Has Played Out

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

May 31, 2012

Ominous Clouds Gather Over Beit El Community

A pair of salvos fired, one intentional, one indirect, at the Givat HaUlpana section of the Beit El community in the Judea and Samaria areas east of the Green Line are raising concerns among those opposed to the demolitions of Jewish neighborhoods. The first shot was made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak when as part of his speech to the Conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv where he stated, “If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinian(s), we should consider an interim arrangement, or even a unilateral disengagement.” The second salvo came from IDF Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier General Haggai Mordechai when he met with Beit El Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum and requested that the Mayor ask the residents of Givat HaUlpana to voluntarily leave their homes in order to avoid a confrontation.

Judging from the long record of Ehud Barak favoring demolitions as an expedient and preferred method of dealing with any challenge to the legal ownership of areas east of the Green Line upon which Jewish housing or businesses have been built makes any such reference from him as a direct threat, even those built at the request and with the assistance of the Government. Defense minister Barak has even gone so far as to find avenues in order to remove Jews from their legal residences after agreeing to a compromise to delay such as was the case of Beit Hamachpelah where Barak fabricated out of thin air a danger to the peace in order to order the removal of fifteen Israeli Jews from their legally purchased small apartment building. Now the Defense Minister who has near total control over such actions in Judea and Samaria making a statement directly making reference to the option for unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria as occurred in Gaza in 2005 is indeed a chilling event. It immediately produces visions of Katyusha and even larger rockets being fired from the Judean hills overlooking central Israel just as has been the rule resultant from the unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Such a threat would endanger the lives and livelihoods of over three-quarters of the Israeli population.

When you add in the request from the commanding general over the forces which would be tapped in order to execute such a disengagement making a request for the residents of a long established community to surrender their homes for demolition just adds to the perception of impending doom. This also begs the question of where does Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu stand on this issue. When one looks at the Prime Minister’s recent actions concerning attempts by numerous members of the Knesset, including many from his own Likud Party as well as others from his original coalition before Kadima joined, his spoken commitment to do whatever it takes to save these neighborhoods becomes rather suspect. When legislation was being proposed to alter the selection process for Supreme Court Judges, as well as all other judges, which would give elected Knesset Ministers the predominant advisory role in the process replacing the Supreme Court Judges, Attorney General and high officials from the Lawyers Guild, once again Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded the Knesset bury the proposed legislation. Despite the method used in almost every Western country giving elected officials direct approval over candidates for judgeships, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed with the elite far leftists who claimed doing such would destroy the democratic system by neutralizing the court’s near monopoly on power and subjecting judges to review by elected ministers. While agreeing with the far leftist view, the Prime Minister first ordered strict coalition discipline to defeat the motion and then used his position to press for the legislation to be refused introduction to the Knesset floor. The legislation died in committee. He has demanded that coalition members withdraw motions to legalize the challenged settlements in Judea and Samaria. After the first time Prime Minister Netanyahu killed legalizing legislation, Defense Minister Barak used the opening to have two separate housing communities destroyed well in advance of the deadline set by the Supreme Court in their ruling. Just last week he requested firmly that Knesset Minister Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz to withdraw the latest motion to legalize the communities in question claiming the need for more time to find a different avenue to save the communities in question.

It has come to be time for a small revolution by those who support legalizing the communities which are under judicial assault by the Supreme Court in conjunction with leftist NGOs which bring charges of Arab ownership of properties on which exist established Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The purpose of utilizing the Supreme Court for these demolition rulings is that the Supreme Court is not tasked with verifying the ownership claim and can rule purely on political emotions and slant. With the Supreme Court being extremely slanted to the leftist progressive post-Zionist political philosophy, they will take virtually any opportunity to rule to destroy Jewish homes east of the Green Line. When cases have been adjudicated in the lower courts where proof of ownership must be proven, there has yet to be a proven case of Arab ownership of these lands. Past President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch made a ruling in the last month of her term setting a vindictive precedent for all future cases. She made a ruling that all lands which were not State Owned Lands, regardless of who held deeds of ownership, were to be considered and adjudicated as Arab owned lands. This immediately voided every deed which denotes Jewish ownership of lands in Judea and Samaria. These are the typical actions and attitudes taken by the Supreme Court, Defense Minister Barak, B’Tselem plus similarly oriented NGOs, and numerous European backed Arab and leftist groups which make the need for a sweeping piece of legislation that neuters all these enemies of Zionism and as such, Israel, and unilaterally end this onslaught against the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. To legalize these homes and communities one-by-one is too risky and has proven unworkable. There needs to be definitive steps taking care of the two threats which have reared their heads and threatened the destruction of Israel through stages just as Yasser Arafat had predicted would occur.

The courts and black robed tyrants need to be neutered and their wings clipped placing sane limits on the overbearing application of judicial activism. Also, security has to be legislated for the Jews living in Judea and Samaria as the ceaseless incremental destruction of homes and neighborhoods slowly digesting every vestige of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria simply must to be ended once and for all. So, allow me to make a plea, Prime Minister Netanyahu, be brave, forget your desire to be loved by all; that can never happen as you must act and action by its nature will displease one side, the other, or both. Take the bull by the horns and allow coalition members freedom to vote their consciences and let legislation to legalize all of Judea and Samaria to be vetted and voted. Secondly, it would restore the balance of Israeli democracy if the appointment of new judges would be vested outside of the judiciary and related interests. The people must be given some selective voice and having the Knesset approve the appointments of judges even if the initial selection is proposed by the judges themselves. The current allowance of the complete appointment procedure being virtually monopolized by the Supreme Court and related influences does not serve democracy, it preserves a strictly enforced hierarchy that has produces a priesthood consisting of lawyers and judges who are usurping the powers which should lie with the other branches of the governance. Trust the people and their elected representatives. The more power placed with the people, the better the government will serve the people and not serve an elite cadre with narrow interests.

Beyond the Cusp

May 23, 2012

Is Netanyahu Turning to the Dark Side?

There have been rumored reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking a path which will please all sides but more likely increase the strain on relations between the sides on the settlement standoff. The claims are that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are working on a proposal which would grant permits for new construction in Beit El and in exchange Givat HaUlpana will be torn down. How such a compromise will settle anything is beyond my ability to reason. Granted, those who are demanding for the Givat HaUlpana houses to be destroyed as per the Supreme Court orders will approve of this being carried out but will be aghast and appalled at the allowance for new housing to be granted. Their approval of the destruction will be short lived as they will then move to prevent the new houses and this will simply drive a new anger for those who wish for all Jewish communities east of the Green Line to be destroyed. Meanwhile, those whose houses are to be sacrificed will not likely be pacified with the new housing starts as their homes will be long destroyed and their lives turned upside down long before they even break ground on the new houses. They will still be put out in the cold with nowhere to live and everything they have built up being destroyed before their eyes. As compromises meant to assuage both sides this will likely be a disaster and actually serve to exacerbate both sides in this argument.

This is also not a sign that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s new great and unsinkable coalition is having the effect that the more ardent Likud factions had hoped would prevail now that the coalition appears to be unbreakable or at least highly resistant to any pressures from any one direction. Instead of taking resolute and strong position which the super coalition was supposed to enable, Netanyahu is still acting with temerity attempting to walk a thin line between opposing sides and will end up satisfying nobody. This has been one of the complaints on the Prime Minister that will only be reinforced by this compromise, namely that he is incapable of taking criticisms in stride and thus attempts to find the magic formula in which everybody gets at least part of what they desire but still must give to satisfy their opposition. Those who thought that now that Prime Minister Netanyahu had a huge level of support that he would finally be enabled to take a stand and the real Bibi would finally come to the fore will likely find that the real Bibi is actually what they have seen all along, a compromiser who is the consummate politician, somebody without a core set of principles and who will go to any length to cause as minimal a controversy as is possible. As for now, we will see Netanyahu the fierce and uncompromising lion, well, apparently not so much.

Along this same line, it is rumored that at the meeting next Tuesday with MKs Yaakov Katz and Uri Ariel from the National Union Party the Prime Minister is expected to ask them to withdraw their motion to make the Givat HaUlpana legal by making the lands where they stand into State Lands. This was exactly what the nationalist camp had expected was part of the reason for forming the new coalition. They had likely realized that there would be some price to pay and were likely ready for some compromise as long as this neighborhood was to be saved in the process. Well, scratch that idea. The question that remains is whether the granting of permits for new houses to be added to another section of the Beit El will be sufficient to placate those who were strongly in favor of legalizing the Ulpana homes. Personally, this appears to be one of the oldest feints in the world, a variation of the bait and switch game. It has been my recollection that this usually results in neither side being satisfied with everybody walking away feeling cheated. It is my opinion that Prime Minister Netanyahu would be better served to find one side or the other to stand with and forge forward with a strong and solid resolve, with a damned the torpedoes, full steam ahead as his attitude.

The other question this raises is what can we now expect from Prime Minister Netanyahu vis-à-vis Iran and their nuclear program? That is a subject which has no middle ground. It is a situation where either you confront with boldness or acquiesce and silently allow whatever comes. Could it be that Prime Minister Netanyahu will find himself unable to make the hard choice and instead will surrender the decision to the United States and the rest of the world? If so, then this coalition may not end up serving Israel if Iran is permitted to achieve nuclear armaments due to the world’s inactions while also preventing any Israeli action. The one comment which has come from Iran that is so obviously true is that Israel is but a one or two nuclear weapon country. That is about all it would take to destroy Israeli ability to resist an offensive launched by her neighbors after Iran had decimated her population, industrial, agricultural and economic heartlands. The fact that Israel may have the ability to launch a devastating second strike against Iran will do nothing to protect Israel once she has been struck by Iranian nuclear weapons. Israel cannot allow a first strike and that cannot be avoided if her leadership is too soft to make the difficult choices. Can Israel honestly trust the rest of the world to be their saviors? Judging from history I am afraid that answer is no, never again.

Beyond the Cusp

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