Kadima Gets 16 Months Political Life Support; Bibi A Puzzle (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Dr. Amiel Ungar 05/08/12)
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The writer is a political scientist who is Arutz Sheva´s Global
Agenda and political analyst; he is featured regularly in the Hebrew
A funny thing happened on the way to the September 4 Knesset
elections that were announced just yesterday. Instead of elections,
Israel got a " Unity" government made up of the Likud and Kadima.
The term "unity government" is a misnomer. Unity governments are
formed between the leading party of the right and the leading party
of the left.
The Kadima party was an amphibious so-called "centrist" party in the
2006 elections, drawing support from both the right and the left. By
the 2009 elections it had become a party of the left and essentially
cannibalized Labor and Meretz to win its 28 seats in the Knesset.
These voters from the left had already begun to desert Kadima by the
time of the recent Kadima party primary.
The victory of Shaul Mofaz in that primary and the resignation of
Tzipi Livni from the Knesset completed the process. The Kadima party
was the leader of the opposition in name only, and by virtue of its
being the largest faction outside of the government. The real
opposition was now the Labor Party of Shelly Yechimovich and the
Future Party of journalist Yair Lapid.
There was a good chance that if elections were held in September
there would be nothing left of the Kadima party. However, forget the
notion that the Kadima party has now obtained time to get its act
together before facing the voters. By joining the government, Kadima
party Knesset members have burned their bridges as an alternative to
the LIkud. They have one recourse: to be admitted back into the
Likud, the party they broke away from to begin with.
The 2005 split left a lot of bad blood between the two parties, but
politics not only makes strange bedfellows; it also provides for
reconciliations. This is particularly true for center parties in
The Rafi party of David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres that
split from Mapai (the forerunner of the Israeli Labor Party) in
1965, eventually came back and took over the Labor Party.
Refugees from the short-lived Democratic Movement for Change party
went back to Labor and Likud, then came the Center Party and now it
is Kadima´s turn. At the grassroots, contacts were maintained and
there were cases of Likud and Kadima canvassers intervening in the
other party´s primaries to help a favorite candidate.
While one can understand the logic of the Kadima party, it is more
difficult to fathom Netanyahu´s motives. One would like to believe
that he wanted to postpone elections till the matter of Iran was
resolved one way or another and have majority backing for whatever
moves he makes on the issue, as the Environment Minister Gilad Erdan
Another rationale is the budgetary situation. The global economic
downturn is beginning to impact on the Israeli economy as well,
meaning that government tax receipts are declining at a time when the
social justice movement is clamoring for increased welfare infusions.
The top-heavy majority of 94 Knesset members means that a less
generous budget can be passed, that the Likud will not be the brunt
of protests this summer, that might have affected September election
A revised Tal Law on the yeshiva army exemption, and perhaps a slight
tweak to the electoral system, could also help by increasing the
country´s workforce and somewhat streamlining the Israeli political
system (for example by raising the electoral threshold to 5%.) or
passing the law on checks and balances that is in the works.
Some left-leaning political commentators have already speculated,
perhaps out of wishful thinking, that armed with a supermajority
Netanyahu will be able to ignore the nationalist wing in his party,
and in a sense emulate Ariel Sharon. They claim that the stormy Likud
conference Sunday, where the Prime Minister´s desire to assume the
temporary presidency of the convention was rebuffed, caused him both
to reconsider early election and appreciate the growing nationalist
tilt within the governing party.
With elections postponed, he now has the time to counter the takeover
of his party by "extremist" elements. One cannot totally discount
this possibility as Netanyahu has not been a paragon of ideological
consistency. On the other hand, he could use the time gained for
legislative efforts to organize land issues in Judea and Samaria.
It is definite that in a year and a half the Prime Minister will have
to come up with a list of achievements to justify the partnership.
Kadima, which was bought very cheap in terms of portfolios, got its
return merely by adding a year and a half to its political existence.
If the partnership with Kadima works well, Netanyahu could plausibly
announce an amnesty and a readmission to the Likud of Kadima party
members, thus changing the political coloration of his party.
(IsraelNationalNews © 2012 05/08/12)
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