'Right Now' government

We can only imagine the public's reaction had Likud leader and Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu been prime minister during Operation Cast Lead.

Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The concern expressed by smaller right-wing parties over the inclusion of Kadima in a unity government is unfounded. Paradoxically, a wide government that includes Kadima head Tzipi Livni, Meir Sheetrit and Haim Ramon would serve the interests of the settlers and their supporters more than any narrow right-wing government with 65 "orange" MKs. In fact, the heads of right-wing parties must insist that Labor or Kadima join the coalition and appoint their leaders to senior positions within the government. A narrow right-wing government supported by the National Union, Habayit Hayehudi and Shas parties would have a difficult time gaining public legitimacy to lead significant processes, for instance, settlement construction, outpost building and embarking on military operations and wars. We can only imagine the public's reaction had Likud leader and Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu been prime minister during Operation Cast Lead. We can assume that a protest against excessive use of force and massive loss of life would not have remained the domain of the radical Left, and even Kadima and Labor members would have taken to the streets. But when Ehud Barak or Livni sit at the security cabinet table, we can embark on two wars and bury any chance at a peace agreement without having to deal with significant public scrutiny. In the "settlement construction" field, a unity government is preferable for the Yesha Council and for the "settler public." A narrow right-wing government would find it difficult to reach decisions on settlement construction and every new outpost would induce criticism from the opposition: Kadima, Labor and Meretz. However, a wide unity government would rather easily approve building plans in the territories, arguing that it is for natural growth purposes only or in settlement blocs only. The Olmert government proved that settlement construction can continue, and that shirking responsibility for any commitment to peace and not evacuating outposts, without provoking a wave of public protest, can only continue when Kadima and Labor MKs are party to the process. The past three years have proven that policy does not dictate public opinion, but that the identity of the people who sit around the government table does. Additionally, as far as international public opinion in concerned, a narrow right-wing government would have difficulty gaining legitimacy and would be forced to contend with the cold and suspicious shoulder of world leaders, especially the Obama administration. The assumed basic working plan of any government in Israel must be committed to the two-state solution, and any step a right-wing government would make would be perceived as an attempt to take a step back and torpedo any future agreement. If Netanyahu, Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman, Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach and National Union leader Ya'akov Katz are the faces of the Israeli government, we can expect a loss of patience toward Israel and anything related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Any minor process by the government will see a wave of worldwide condemnation and protest, and the resulting pressure will make it difficult for said right-wing government to implement its ideological path. Therefore, in the coming days and following the elections loss, those who fear for the political process and the future of Israel in the Middle East must hope for a right-wing government, without Kadima and Labor. Such a government will find it difficult to wage wars and ostentatious military operations. Such a government will have to deal with widespread public protest, locally and internationally, and will be busy trying to prove to the public and the world that a responsible and sane government sits in Jerusalem. A right-wing government is the least destructive option for Israel and the region. The writer is general-secretary of Peace Now