Beyond the Cusp

February 24, 2013

A Question for Netanyahu

The election results were a ray of hope and promise for many in the Zionist communities. But there is a question which must be asked of Netanyahu because if there is any chance that his intended direction has been indicated by bringing Livni into the coalition while also acquiescing to her every demand; then the Zionist should stop any celebrations and begin to worry that another Likud Prime Minister is headed to the dark side. What would be the indications that Netanyahu intends to fall before the pressures from the Europeans, United States President Obama backed by his recent appointees to be CIA Chief and Secretaries of State and Defense, the numerous leftist NGOs and the rest of the world support groups backing the Palestinian ploy by the Arab and Muslim world to destroy Israel?

It truly was a shocking revelation to read that Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted Tzipi Livni into the coalition and agreed to grant her the Justice Ministry which was the expressed position sought by Yair Lapid and also granted her request to be the lead in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority as her position supporting surrendering most if not all of Judea and Samaria along with half of Jerusalem including all of the Old City as well as the Kotel which would make it next to impossible for Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Home to also enter such a coalition. The first question that comes to mind is how Netanyahu could form a coalition without compromising his promises to Livni. The first sign of the unthinkable may have been occurring right before our eyes as Netanyahu appears to be spending great amounts of time wooing Shelly Yachimovich and the Labor Party to join his coalition. Should Netanyahu succeed in his wooing of Yachimovich and the Labor Party he would be well on his way to forming that both sides of center coalition which has been the center of much chatter since the election. This would also fit in with the rumors that Netanyahu will go to whatever length is necessary to keep Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett out of the coalition. I know, how could Netanyahu fill out the rest of the needed Knesset seats to reach the minimum of sixty-one seats as even with Kadima along with Labor Party, Hatnuah and Likud-Beiteinu only gives him fifty-four?

That is where the unusual leadership by triumvirate of Shas comes into play. Despite the story fed to the media and membership of Shas that the three members of the triumvirate, Eli Yishai, Ariel Atias and Aryeh Deri, were equal and were working together there will always be the suspicion that not all members are truly equal. The truth is that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as the spiritual guiding light is the true and undisputed true leader of Shas and he was the one who decided upon the triumvirate form of leadership in order to soften the inclusion of Aryeh Deri back into a leadership position immediately after he returned to politics after his conviction. This would likely mean that anything which Aryeh Deri decides for Shas will be supported by Rabbi Yosef and thus nobody would ever think to counter his decisions. Deri was well known to prefer Labor over Likud though he would ally with whichever was necessary to gain considerations for the Hasidic heart of Shas. It is this flexibility; some might say pragmatism, which has made Shas the coalition builder in Israeli history. Should Shas also join the above parties in a coalition, then Netanyahu would have his broad based coalition with sixty-five seats. The guarantor that this is Netanyahu’s desired outcome would be some generous deal made with Shelly Yachimovich in order to bring Labor into the coalition over her original denial of any possibility of her being in a coalition with Netanyahu.

 
Should this actually come to pass, then there are some additional questions which would soon surface. One of the foremost among them is what will Netanyahu do to keep such a coalition together with a number of his fellow Likud members probably having misgivings about their fellow coalition members? With Moshe Feiglin and Tzipi Hotovely and other Zionist and nationalist members within the Likud faction, how does Prime Minister Netanyahu expect to hold his coalition together and avoid losing a sure to follow vote of no confidence. Such would most certainly come attached to some piece of legislation made to satisfy either Tzipi Livni or Shelly Yachimovich or members of their parties by one of the parties not within the coalition, especially should such legislation either be detrimental to the Israelis residing in Judea and Samaria or other controversial subjects. Would Prime Minister Netanyahu purposely hold the members of the coalition to vote for anything which was brought before the Knesset by any coalition member? On the other hand, would Prime Minister Netanyahu deny members of the coalition bringing any motion which might challenge the coalition? And if either were the case, how would such a move be enforced? Would the coalition survive if Prime Minister Netanyahu challenged one of the other party leaders to hold their members to vote with the coalition or be removed from the Knesset and replaced with another minister appointed in order to enforce compliant voting? Would Prime Minister Netanyahu replace members of his own Likud Party in order to sustain his coalition? What would be the result from either of these actions? Such a coalition even if formed would appear on face value unsustainable. This may be conjecture but the possibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu may be headed in this direction is possible. This becomes even more likely if Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid hold to their agreement not to enter the coalition without the other, an agreement I believe both will truly honor despite what some, including Netanyahu, may think or even be counting on.

Beyond the Cusp

February 22, 2013

Riding a Rollercoaster with Netanyahu

Going all the way back to the first time Benyamin Netanyahu was elected as Prime Minister in June of 1996  we get to experience the entirety of his position swings during different points and when under varying stresses. Some of the highest points on the ride are when he has made speeches especially those before the United Nations, the United States Congress or when speaking before Jewish groups as the main speaker who is also the guest of honor. These have been Bibi at his best where he has stated the Israeli Zionist positions with elegance, bravado, style, and persuasion. His campaign rhetoric is almost as grand and has a quality of promise and hope that Bibi Netanyahu will be the kind of Zionist with strong Jewish roots and values that supporters desire in their Prime Minister. When many Israelis cast their votes for the Likud and Benyamin Netanyahu that is the person for whom they are casting their vote. That unfortunately is not the person who often appears in the Prime Minister’s office after the election.

 

Some of the lowest points on the rollercoaster ride with Netanyahu were such as his Bar Ilan Speeches where he capitulated in some measure to pressures from foreign leaders often including any number of European and United Nations dignitaries also including leaders from the United States, especially the President. The promises he offered in both those speeches left many Israelis feeling like they were left only with broken promises from the past election and were no longer assured of the positions represented by the man in the Prime Minister’s office, though it did look like the same Bibi they had elected. Possibly the lowest point in the ride was when Prime Minister Netanyahu capitulated to the demands and deceits imposed upon him by President Obama and the Ten Month Building Freeze on our lands was announced and imposed upon all Israel. The reasoning behind our saying it was placed on all of Israel and not solely on the areas of Samaria and Judea is simple; due to the expensive end to building in these areas there became a great shortage of housing and prices shot up sharply affecting all of Israel. Nothing imposed upon our country’s people living past the Green Line affect only those past the Green Line; it will affect all of us. Israel is far too small nation in size that anything can truly be local, almost anything will end up having nation-wide effects. Thus the Ten Month Building Freeze may have been directed at Samaria and Judea, but it was imposed in reality on all of Israel in the end.

 

Between the times when Bibi Netanyahu is hitting the campaign trail and sounding very much as we would wish any potential Prime Minister to sound and those periods where he is bent and twisted to the breaking point by the pressures every Prime Minister of Israel is bound to face, we have your basic rollercoaster ride with its peaks and valleys. Add in those superb appearances before the world and speaking freely before those who generally or specifically support Israel and you have momentary peaks which seem almost unscalable. Then there are the opposing moments when Bibi falters and we visit the screaming fall into the dark valleys at the bottom of the tracks wondering if the entirety of the rollercoaster cars will crash off from the tracks and shatter everything onto the hard ground below. Such are the moments when we are left wondering where the man who spoke so wondrously with eloquence and bravery just a few weeks back went and how he could have faltered so completely. Possibly quite fortunately none of us will ever be forced to face such pressures and calamities that are often imposed and thrust upon the leader of the State of Israel. Sometimes we must think and wonder if there are any who might perform with any greater assurance and firmness.

 

But the question we are all asking is where is this rollercoaster heading? We are all wondering if we will continue to climb a while longer or are we about to take another of those spills down into the depths of the ride once more. Many are unsure as the campaign this time was not as filled with soaring eloquence but rather was somewhat unsettling and leaves us wondering exactly what was promised us not only by Likud, but by Bibi Netanyahu himself. Many were troubled by the call for building a centered governing coalition which was more inclusive than idealistic. If we remember the last time we were promised balance and a new approach that would take Israel forward to a more peaceful future we got something that has not delivered. That was the promise we received from the Likud Prime Minister who later gave us the present of Kadima which also produced Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. This was also the government under whose guidance we unilaterally disengaged from Gaza forcing many thousands of Jewish families from their homes, synagogues, businesses, farms, communities, and their lives as they had built them over many years. This was the government whose decisions led Israel to the terror and horror of near continuous rockets raining down on ever increasing areas of southern communities eventually striking on the edges of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These are important facts which must never be forgotten. These were dangerous ideas and actions which can never be allowed again.

 

So, where do we stand and which Bibi Netanyahu is presently formulating a new governing coalition and choosing the path his new governing coalition will be taking? We have little evidence, but we can look at the little we do possess and try to gain a hint at the picture being painted. We do know who was the first party to be joining with Likud-Beiteinu, and that was Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua (“The Movement”) Party. Along with giving Tzipi Livni the prestigious Justice Ministry which Yair Lapid had desired according to reports, but Prime Minister Netanyahu also granted Ms. Livni’s demand that she be appointed to lead any delegation which would negotiate with the Palestinian Authority. As the old advertising ploy said, but wait, there’s more. Taking this step and allowing Tzipi Livni to hold such office and also have the lead position in negotiations with the Palestinians where she has stated her position as willing to sacrifice virtually all the lands past the Green Line, uproot all the Jewish people residing there, and return half of Jerusalem including the entire Old City if needed if that is what is required to attain a settlement with the Palestinians will make having HaBayit HaYehudi (Israel Home) Party joining the coalition next to impossible. This also would very likely also apply to the hope of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (Future) Party joining any coalition with such intentions. When also including the lack of contact with both HaBayit HaYehudi and Yesh Atid and the apparent intent made by Netanyahu to court Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich to reverse her promise to never join a Party headed by Netanyahu and form a left of center coalition, could this be actually Bibi Netanyahu’s honest intent?

 

This would be an even harsher reality than when a previous Likud Prime Minister left Likud in order to chase his place in the history books and formed Kadima to conduct his treachery. Should Prime Minister Netanyahu form such a coalition, it would beg the rather impressive and important question; would Likud remain Likud and even if the name continued with Netanyahu, would everybody remain on board or would they seek new pastures? Then if many of the Zionist members of Likud decided to abandon Likud, where would they go, their own new party or join another existing party likely HaBayit HaYehudi with Naftali Bennett. If they were to join Naftali Bennett and Moshe Feiglin also left Likud for HaBayit HaYehudi, then there might be a very interesting and intriguing leadership situation going forward. What has been most confusing has been the number of members within the leadership of Likud and among its members who have intimated that Naftali Bennett will join as if he has no other options. Meanwhile, there have been rumors that HaBayit HaYehudi has restarted their campaign committee in preparations for the possibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be unable to form a government. This may come down to whether or not Shas and United Torah can also be brought into the coalition and a compromise be made with Livni and Shelly not to bolt in reaction to Shas being brought onboard. This would also require some grand compromise on the forced service in the IDF of Haredi full time Torah students. However the next few weeks play out, the rollercoaster ride with Netanyahu is about to enter some wild gyrations, sweeping turns, sweeping highs, shattering lows, and who can imagine the rest of the twists which are sure to come. Advice, you want advice? Hold on for your life and pray, pray a lot.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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