Beyond the Cusp

February 20, 2019

Israeli Elections Religious Right Merging

 

The two main religious Zionist parties and long-time running mates, Jewish Home and National Union, agreeing that Rabbi Rafi Peretz will head the joint list with Bezalel Smotrich as number two and they settled which party names which slots. This agreement was difficult to arrange and there was a reason which not many are speaking of which made it all the more difficult. The problem was and is Bibi Netanyahu and his claims that he is out there trying to unite the religious Zionist parties and other right wing parties in order for him to easily have a conservative coalition. Every time that Bibi calls for these parties to unite, the more swelled heads become, a common ailment amongst many politicians, and demands become more exaggerated and arguments become more shrill and heated. It almost appears that Bibi is actually attempting to sabotage the right wing parties with his repeated calls for unity. If Bibi is so absolutely enamored with uniting the right wing, religious and Zionist parties in order to allow for a more right wing coalition, then why isn’t Likud out there offering these parties positions on their list and thus guaranteeing that their votes count and they are represented in the coalition. Why doesn’t Bibi form his coalition before the election and present a done deal to the Israeli public, a deal which, if done correctly, would bring in the required sixty-one mandates for seats in the Knesset. Bibi would not even need give the party leaders any of the Likud top five or even ten slots as anything within, say, thirty would be a shoe-in and potentially solid through fifty. But a right-wing-religious-Zionist coalition is not what Bibi is aiming to have.

 

This election is different for Bibi as he is aware that this will very likely be his last ride in the driver’s seat of the Israeli government. Everyone knows what this means. This will be what defines his legacy. The right-wing, nationalist, religious leaning coalitions have not provided that legacy even after nearly a decade as Prime Minister. Bibi Netanyahu desires to be more than simply the longest serving Prime Minister, he wants international fame and the fortunes which go along with such reverence. Bibi wants that he will be the toast of the town wherever he travels and that he and Sarah Netanyahu will be free to travel the Capitals of Europe receiving lavish parties in his honor. Bibi has seen one other Israeli politician receive such honors, and that was Simon Peres, one of the original Oslo Accord schemers. Bibi had a front row seat to witness the embrace received by his mentor and honored figure, Ariel Sharon, who was lauded by Europeans and mainstream American politicians for his bold risk taking after he agreed to gift Gaza to the Palestinian Authority without requesting anything in return so they could prove their ability to form a workable economic and functioning society. The eventual, and many claim inevitable, result was a terrorist state sworn to destroy all of Israel and now backed by Iran.

 

We have already discussed the political positions and other views from General Benjamin “Benny” Gantz, a former longstanding member of the Central Command and including serving as Chief of Staff. There has been talk of a Ganz-Lapid or Lapid-Gantz merged ticket to run together and thus be a force to be reckoned with. The problem was as we stated, who would be at the top of the ticket just in case they were tagged to form a ruling coalition. From all appearances, the General will top that ticket. The two leaders deserve one-another as both of them have, at different times and before various crowds, made statements supporting opposing views and then repudiated them at their next campaign stop. The two are polished performers with Yair Lapid getting his experience at reading a teleprompter from doing the evening news, which also gave him name recognition. General Gantz got his experience on speaking tours in the United States before conservative and reform synagogues where his views were widely applauded. These American Jews are largely leftists and believe that there exists a magic formula which when applied will turn the Arab Palestinians into useful and productive members of a normative society and for that reason support the “Two-State Solution” as the vehicle to peace between Israel and the Arab world. This position has thus become viable and central to General Gantz’s beliefs. Yair Lapid is another who believes that some magic division of the lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea does in fact exist which would end the animosity shown by the Palestinians. Any coalition which includes these views is not one Israelis should be comfortable allowing having lead their nation. The Two State Solution is a formula for ending the Israeli Arab Palestinian problems as it will bring on the final war between the Palestinians and Israel and there will be only one survivor. The price paid by both sides will be horrific and the cost to the world may be far higher than anyone wishes to accept.

 

The question for the right-wing-religious-Zionist parties is whether or not there will be further mergers. The far-right National-Religious Otzma Party will be avoided largely because of some of their most radical members and videos showing them in acts indefensible in nature such as dancing at a wedding celebrating the death of an Arab child. Then there is the Yahad Party chaired by Eli Yishai. His Sephardi Haredi beliefs appear to have forced him to refuse to be on any ticket which permits women. This is a position he will need to talk back if he expects any offers of a joint list. Jewish Home will most definitely have women as part of their ticket. There will possibly be a united ticket again between Yahad Party and Otzma Party simply for the purpose of guaranteeing their breaking threshold into the Knesset. Any remaining right wing parties will need to find agreements for forming joint lists, the more parties the better, or they face oblivion. But still Bibi is out there on a regular basis making such agreements all the more difficult with his insistence that the right wing parties need to unite in order to receive optimal representation and not waste votes. Furthermore, every time Bibi makes his insistence for the right wing parties to unite, their individual, and thus joint, numbers appear to sink in the polls while Likud gains voters. Bibi Netanyahu is making it appear as if these parties would have been incapable of breaking the threshold of 3.25% of the total votes. One could make a case for Bibi actually pressing the right to merge in order to make such agreements next to impossible while also raising doubts about the viability of the entirety of the right wing outside of Likud.

 

Bibi Netanyahu, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Yair Lapid, General Benny Gantz, Bezalel Smotrich, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, Avi Gabbay, Aryeh Deri

Bibi Netanyahu, Rabbi Rafi Peretz,
Yair Lapid, General Benny Gantz, Bezalel Smotrich,
Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, Avi Gabbay, Aryeh Deri

 

The above theory would be further excited were Likud to merge lists with Naftali Bennett’s New Right Party, a party looking ever more endangered as their numbers also drop as Bibi calls for unity. Should Lapid and Gantz merge, then Bennett would lose two separate opportunities for his party to merge as well as the ability to play one off the other seeking the best possible deal. Should the end of February approach too quickly, it is reasonable to expect for Bibi to allow Bennett and Shaked to merge their New Right with Likud while making both eat some sautéed crow. Should such an announcement come before the deadline, then the theory that the entirety of the Bennett and Shaked move to Jewish Home years ago was in order to wreck the strongest national-religious right wing party as it was becoming a challenge to Bibi and the Likud. A merger between Likud and the New Right would be as close as one could come to proving conspiracy in order to destroy the religious Zionist community and debilitate these parties immediately before elections. This takes us to a place which every Israeli should dread. What if Bibi Netanyahu plans to make his name by pinning his hopes on making a lasting peace, or at least the appearance of such into a reality? This just might be exactly where Bibi Netanyahu has intended to go but simply had to figure a means of crippling the right wing parties allowing him to choose leftist to virtually all of the main cabinet positions. Gantz has stated that the Gaza model could be used for reaching peace with Mahmoud Abbas and the beauty of the idea is that it does not require Abbas to agree. Gantz claims that Gaza was carried out perfectly and need be applied elsewhere, and there is no doubt of exactly what is meant. Ganz claim is Israel should merely pull back to the terror fence and the IDF should remain in all the areas they currently operate.

 

This plan for the Shomron would be a complete and total disaster. Israel would receive no credit for their leaving the area without first engaging in the forming of an agreement by which Israel receives certain guarantees. This concept should have been stillborn and never permitted to see the light of day. Israel releasing the vast majority of the Shomron to the Palestinian Authority without so much as a handshake in return is Gaza Disengagement on steroids and will result in the same end result. Leaving the IDF behind to interfere with any terrorist plots would result in exactly what devolved in southern Lebanon where IDF forces were routinely ambushed. The other side is exactly how long does anybody believe Mahmoud Abbas will stop Hamas or other Iranian proxy from taking control of the Arab region and demanding the IDF be removed. This idea takes the bad situation where the lands are presumably disputed and turns them into occupied lands protected for the occupying side of Israel. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the polling in Israel tends to be skewed to represent the pollsters’ political positions rather than a true measure of where things stand. Currently, if the averaging of polls can be considered at all accurate, Gantz and his Israel Resilience Party would be the largest block outside of Likud, even more so if they were to merge with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. There are those who would believe that such a joint list would challenge Bibi and Likud for being tapped to form the ruling coalition. This would bring a definitive left-wing face to the government which would very likely charge straight ahead with the formation of a Palestinian Arab state in the Shomron and east-Jerusalem as its capital city. Such a program would denude the Israeli claims to these lands, surrender all the areas from Oslo including Area C and make defending the Jordanian basin impossible turning all these lands into truly occupied territory for as long as the world managed not to demand the retreat from the region so as to truly grant the Arab Palestinians their own nation. Israel might actually get through a full month before the United Nations without being condemned. But what if the more readily likely arrangement were to be formed with Likud merging with Yair Lapid, Gantz and Kulanu along with Yisrael Beiteinu and that could be the next ruling coalition. Such a coalition would favor left-leaning political views and could result in a split in the Likud ranks leaving Bibi with the horrific choice of trying to patch together a coalition just as was done with questionable skirting of political laws. Still such a premature prediction may be jumping the gun. In such an instance, Bibi would gather what he was able to pull in from Likud and managed to extricate from all other parties without requiring Bibi making any concessions. Bibi could at such a point form a left-wing government coalition which intends to end the Arab Israeli Conflict through capitulation to many Arab demands and investing the Palestinian Authority with complete control of the regions west of the security barrier. Israel surrendering all such lands would result in madness as there would be approximately half of a million Jewish refugees which the Arabs would insist be removed or they would eliminate them their way. Such could be the result of the upcoming Israeli elections.

 

We fully understand the desire for a lasting legacy, we simply pray it will not cost Israel or the Jewish People to high a price. Israel has had its pricey legacies built on the backs of our young troops. They have included the Oslo Accords which won three Nobel Peace Prizes and thousands of dead. There was the Gaza Disengagement which will be the lasting legacy remembered for Ariel Sharon, which marred his entire memory. Now we are coming to what will be the legacy of one Bibi Netanyahu, and that is what we are hoping will be less expensive than the previous attempts at a positive legacy. Legacies do not require that the nation whose leader is cementing their legacy to bear any deep cost in treasure, lands or lives. A true legacy is beneficial to the nation and its people without costing them severely. Let us hope that Bibi can find for himself an affordable legacy, one which Israel will be proud about and which will benefit everyone Arab, Israeli and all the remainder of the world will be able to live with and do so in peace. That would be a kinder and gentler style of legacy in which everyone gains and in the end the world finds it less stressful living with Israel. This would be an acceptable and appreciated legacy for Bibi Netanyahu, but still there is the fear that he will desire being the one upon whose efforts peace was actually acquired and nobody needed to be sacrificed. This could lead quickly to bring peace to far reaching shores as well as those close at hand.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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