Analysis: Political prattle while violence rages in Israel

Intifada or not, the Likud race continues.

Binyamin Netanyahu (photo credit: REUTERS)
Binyamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Attacks on Israelis have spread from Jerusalem to Taiba, Gush Etzion, and Tel Aviv.
Decisions on the fate of Iran’s nuclear program are being made in marathon meetings between US Secretary of State John Kerry, former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Oman.
And key decisions about a potential Palestinian state and probes of Operation Protective Edge will soon be made in key bodies of the United Nations in New York.
So where was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday night? Convening the Likud central committee at the glitzy Avenue events hall in Airport City.
Netanyahu decided to advance the Likud race to ensure his party will be ready for general elections in case the coalition crumbles and to take advantage of the boost in popularity he received from clashes with the American administration over building in Jerusalem.
The prime minister had been considering the move for months, especially when his popularity rate hit 82 percent when he ordered the July ground incursion into Gaza. But he intended to hold the race when the fighting was over, not during another wave of Palestinian and Israeli Arab violence.
Nevertheless, intifada or not, the Likud race must go on. So Netanyahu, who blasted Likud politicians just last week for fanning the flames with their tough talk, will talk even tougher than his party’s fiercest hawks until the January 6 race is over.
And as long as there is a Likud race, there must be competition.
So MK Moshe Feiglin is running because of his Jewish leadership agenda, and Likud central committee chairman Danny Danon announced that he is challenging Netanyahu, running because of the terrorist attacks, not in spite of them.
Other politicians would have chosen not to run, let Netanyahu get his inevitable victory, and let the prime minister focus on his other job of running the country. Running and losing will help Danon build himself politically, but will a race besmirching Netanyahu help Israel’s right-wing that Danon hopes to lead? The opposite can be asked of outgoing Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, whose resignation takes effect Tuesday.
Leaving Netanyahu’s government will endear Peretz to Labor members if he rejoins the party, and recent history has proven that trusting Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni with his political fate would have been unwise. But does it help Peretz’s Left to hasten the downfall of a government in which Livni plays an important role when polls say Israelis are moving rightward? Politicians are very determined people who focus on their goals. That determination causes them to engage in such political prattle, even while violence veers out of control.