Like Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu has been pushed to the center (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Ari Shavit 05/09/12)
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There´s one thing Benjamin Netanyahu doesn´t like being, and that´s a
Thanksgiving stuffed turkey. On Sunday night, at the Likud
convention, Netanyahu started to feel like a stuffed turkey. The
disruption by the right-wing lunatic fringe at the central event of
the ruling party made the prime minister realize what he should have
understood long ago: Likud has lost its mind.
And since Likud has lost its mind there was a real danger that it
would do poorly in an election and he would be unable to put together
a strong government afterward. And since Likud has lost its mind the
great plan of election-before-Obama and election-before-Iran
crumbled. Suddenly Likud right-winger Moshe Feiglin is more dangerous
than Obama: He, ironically, could be the one to forestall a
confrontation with Iran´s nuclear program.
That is why Netanyahu, on Monday morning, instructed his former
bureau chief, Natan Eshel, to close the deal with Lior Horev, an aide
to Kadima head Shaul Mofaz. And within 90 minutes, Eshel and Horev
were shaking hands. They brought about the biggest national unity
government in Israeli history.
To a certain extent, it was a dirty trick. The deal made a mockery of
many of the words uttered and promises made in these parts over the
past several months. It made a mockery of many an analysis -
including ones published by this writer. But this dirty trick is also
an encouraging one. It means Israel has a stable government with an
enormous nonreligious majority. It means Israel has a government that
is explicitly committed to changing the system of government and to
drafting ultra-Orthodox men into the army - this year.
Finally we have a government representing the Israeli majority, a
government that no niche party can extort. Finally we have a
government with a clear Zionist majority.
This week the Feiglinists unwittingly did to Bibi what the rebels did
years ago to Arik: They pushed him toward the center. Yesterday,
three years late, the Sharonization of Benjamin Netanyahu began.
The Likud-Netanyahu government speaks of four goals: Changing the
system of government, passing a new law governing Haredi
conscription, creating a new social order and initiating a
responsible peace process. But its real goal is Iran. For Netanyahu,
bringing Mofaz into his government is like Levi Eshkol´s bringing
Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan into his government in 1967. It
creates a firm political foundation on which to conduct the strategic
sparring with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The national unity government provides domestic and international
legitimacy to the anticipated confrontation. Now the Iran decision
will not be the decision of the reviled messianic duo from Caesarea
and Akirov Towers. Now the Iran decision will be the joint decision
of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mofaz and Vice Prime
Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya´alon. Instead of pre-
Iran elections, we get pre-Iran unity, which does the same thing.
Instead of a two-month window of opportunity (September-October
2012 ), we get a four-month one (July-October 2012 ).
A new and surprising political move brings Netanyahu to exactly the
same place he had hoped to reach through an early election. The only
difference is that our summer is a goner. The Iranian crisis could
erupt any day - or night - between now and November.
The Netanyahu-Mofaz pairing also sowed the seeds of a future
political blowup. There´s a good chance that in the next election, in
2013, a new center-right party of Netanyahu, Mofaz and Barak will be
there, and that its main challenger will be a bigger Labor Party.
Kadima in its current form will fade away, the Haredi and far-right
parties will weaken, and Yair Lapid will post numerous status updates
on Facebook. But the political establishment is moving to the center,
and with any luck it will move closer to a two-state solution.
As always, it all comes down to Netanyahu. If this was just a way to
hold on for another year as prime minister, his political career is
finished. But if he ushers in genuine change, the world will be in
the palm of his hand.
No more excuses. He is beholden to none, at the head of the broadest
government ever. Starting today, he has all the responsibility. (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/09/12)
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