Naftali Bennett Keda outpost 370.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
When right-wing religious-Zionist Jews in Israel began Shabbat last week, they
were blissfully unaware of how much would go wrong for them in the week
They had no idea until Saturday night, but an hour after the day
of rest started, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the diplomatic
talks between Israel and the Palestinians that they had been dreading would soon
Since then, politicians on the Right have been sparring about how
to react to the reignited diplomatic process.
They bickered back and
forth at a meeting of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus in a scene reminiscent
of the fights on the Right ahead of the 2005 Gaza Strip withdrawal.
like coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), who co-chairs the caucus,
have been saying that there is nothing wrong with talking to the Palestinians as
long as Israel does not give anything up. Others, such as Likud MK Moshe
Feiglin, have said the very fact that Israel is talking to the Palestinian
leadership is a national tragedy.
Some, like Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck,
called for boycotting key votes if construction does not resume in Judea and
Samaria. Others, like Deputy Minister Ophir Akunis (Likud Beytenu), have warned
against taking such action against a Likud-led government.
minister, deputy minister or MK has taken up the fight of the family members of
the victims of the 82 terrorists who are due to be released in stages as part of
the nascent diplomatic process.
Politicians who vowed to fight for the
families in the past are suddenly silent.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali
Bennett pronounced himself satisfied with the fact that talks with the
Palestinians will not have preconditions, that no Israeli-Arab terrorists will
be released and that a referendum bill that already exists will be somewhat
He has decided to save the protests he could be leading for
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has achieved the
“industrial quiet” his aides have always said he needed for any serious steps
with the Palestinians. He actually had that quiet last term, too, but it did not
lead to talks then due to mistakes made by other parties in the peace
A Dialog poll this week found a majority for a peace deal
brokered by Netanyahu as long as no specifics about the deal are included in the
The poll indicates that the public trusts its prime
minister on the most fateful of issues.
Now that the diplomatic process
is beginning, every party in the coalition can celebrate an achievement ahead of
the Knesset’s summer recess.
Hatnua has its peace process, Yesh Atid is
drafting haredim, Yisrael Beytenu is advancing electoral reform, and the Likud
has a stabilizing security situation and better relations with Washington. Only
Bayit Yehudi has nothing to boast.
The one issue that Bayit Yehudi was
going to celebrate all summer was the election of a Zionist chief rabbi. Had
David Stav or Shmuel Eliyahu gotten elected, it would have restored pride in
religious Zionists that had waned during the two decades the haredim controlled
Now the crocheted kippot in the Knesset are all pointing
fingers at each other about who is to blame for the failure. Divisions in the
religious-Zionist camp, mistakes and poor leadership are all coming up in the
Losing the elections for both chief rabbi posts would have
been devastating at any time. Coming at the conclusion to a week to
forget for right-wing religious Zionists made it that much harder.