The Israeli initiative

This time, Netanyahu must be confronted and forced to make a clear-cut and truly historic choice: Either the sane Zionist parties of the Center-Left, or the haredi-Right.

January 6, 2013 22:04
3 minute read.
Netanyahu at Likud campaign launch.

Netanyahu at campaign launch. (photo credit: Screenshot Channel 2)

It’s not a putsch, not an attempt to topple Netanyahu or any of the other spins the Likud is currently trying to pin on it.

I’d call it “The Israeli Initiative”; the union of the Center-Left, sane Zionist parties – the State of Israel’s last chance to remain in the realm of normalcy and off the slippery slope to extremism, isolation and racism.

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In principle, it’s simple: the Labor, Hatnua and Yesh Atid parties (maybe Kadima, too) decide that if indeed President Shimon Peres, after the elections, orders Binyamin Netanyahu to expand the government, they will only join the coalition together.

Netanyahu wants a sane, pragmatic and effective Zionist government? Fine. Then he must accept Shelly Yacimovich, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid (and maybe Shaul Mofaz, too). If he won’t, let him go to the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) and Naftali Bennett.

No shady deals, no divide-and-rule, no attempts to entice someone to break ranks in exchange for a mess of pottage – only to discover four years later they’ve been had, with Israel further along the road to becoming a theocracy, prone to making such declarations as (and it’s not the most ridiculous example) last week’s rabbinic announcement that even three-year-old girls must be careful to dress modestly.

Sof Shavua’s main Friday headline reported that quiet contacts are now being made among the Center-Left parties on an initiative of this type. The initial feelers were reported to have been sent out by Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich.

In an astute move, Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni went public on Ulpan Shishi and called for an immediate meeting of all the heads of the Center-Left parties. Yacimovich, in a no less astute response, sent an immediate agreement by text message.

The odd man out was Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who apparently felt initiatives of this kind to be beneath him.

Lapid kept mum until Saturday morning, when he condescendingly announced that while he would be happy to sit down with whoever necessary, there was no need to be dramatic, and that he saw no point in the formation of such a Center-Left alliance . It took him two or three hours to realize how mistaken and disappointing this stance was.

After all, no one was asking him to join anyone else’s party or give up his principles (assuming, of course, that he has any). No, all he was being asked to do was to not join a coalition without Livni, Yacimovich (and Mofaz). (Why do I keep mentioning Mofaz? Because I would be overjoyed if he were to get into the Knesset.)

ULTIMATELY, THOUGH, Lapid came around. He got the point; yes, there are ideological differences between us and social-democrat Yacimovich, and between his national vision and that of Livni (if a pretty small one), but who cares? These differences are smaller than those between Yair Shamir and Moshe Feiglin and the classic Likud positions.

Netanyahu, being Netanyahu, will keep trying to pull one over on everybody and avoid making a decision, instead seeking to preserve his “historical alliance” with the haredim and his settler “base” and getting some convenient fig leaf into his government. Whoever costs least, just so there’s someone in the coalition he can send to Washington should the need arise.

However, this time we must not allow him to get away with this. This time, he must be confronted and forced to make a clear-cut and truly historic choice: Either the sane Zionist parties of the Center-Left, or the haredi-Right. Now, Netanyahu, you must choose. And it’s about time.

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