The entry of the Tzipi Livni Party into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
coalition in the making and her prospective appointment as justice minister, as
well as chief negotiator in the so-called peace process, has brought praise from
the Palestinian Authority, from foreign leaders and from the Shas Party’s
leader, Aryeh Deri, who has shared with her an affinity for the Oslo process of
“land for peace.”
Because of this new development, Naftali Bennett’s
Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) is faced with a serious dilemma: Does Bayit Yehudi
enter the coalition as a token fig leaf for a left-ofcenter coalition that will
destroy Jewish communities in Samaria and create a Palestinian state in Israel’s
biblical heartland? In exchange for Netanyahu’s dangling carrot of desired
government ministries, can the religious Zionist party forgo progress on issues
such as recreating a more welcoming Zionist rabbinate, equalizing the burden of
national service, and approving the Netanyahuauthorized Levy Report that exposed
the canard that Jews don’t have the legal right to build and live in the
communities of Judea and Samaria?
WHILE THERE is no question that there is
influence to be gained by controlling government ministries, it’s just not
The rise of Bayit Yehudi from oblivion to a force in national
politics as the fourth largest party in the Knesset was achieved because it’s
idealistic message has been clear from the start – that the old corrupt politics
are behind us.
Without clear coalition guidelines that will prevent Livni
from steering the peace process ship to Palestinian statehood, it will be very
difficult for Bennett and company to have a real impact on foreign
As for national service, the religious Zionist public has long
carried a disproportionate burden of both Torah study and military service. This
has been done proudly, but it’s time to end the needless hatred in Israeli
society that is caused by the haredi (ultra-orthodox) public’s shirking of its
The clear Torah imperative of being prepared to
go to war at age 20 should be for everyone, not just for the religious Zionists
and the secular. Putting it off until age 26 across the haredi board, and then
making service voluntary, won’t reduce the resentment.
The working goal
should be creating an equal burden of national service, as well as spreading the
learning of Torah, which is an inheritance for all of Israel, not just for the
YAIR LAPID’S Yesh Atid, as the second largest party in the new
Knesset, has brought national service and other important domestic issues to the
forefront of the coalition talks.
While there are key differences between
his views and those of the national religious public, he is more of a pragmatic
centrist than a leftist and there is a lot of common ground. More importantly,
Bennett has formed a valuable strategic alliance with Lapid that neither party
will enter the coalition without the other – a strategy that, if adhered to,
will prevent Netanyahu from attaining a Knesset majority without their combined
31 seats, unless he relies on the far-Left and the Arab parties, certainly an
This Bennett-Lapid alliance has been a very wise
strategy that will force Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu to stop ignoring Bayit Yehudi
and, personality issues aside, to address the real issues at hand. Portfolios
will come after.
Expect the Bennett-Lapid alliance to be strengthened in
the coming days and perhaps Netanyahu will be more forthcoming on coalition
guidelines that may seem to have in them something for everybody, but will
eventually have to recognize the potency of the Lapid-Bennett alliance and the
size of their parties.
If that happens, the likely outcome will be a
broad coalition that will include Likud-Beitenu, Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi at
its core, as well as Shas, who will enter as the sole haredi party, along with a
defanged Livni and Kadima – for grand total of 81 seats.
If not, we will
soon be heading for new elections.
The writer is a former mayor of
Shiloh, Israel and founder and president of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund,
established after he and his three-year-old son were wounded in a
terrorist-shooting attack. He is the author of three books, including his
soon-to-be-released book, Peace for Peace: Israel in the New Middle East.