The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, December 12, 2005
Mofaz's Defection: A Blessing In Disguise?
In a post a few weeks ago, referring to blistering attacks by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom - then candidates in the December 19 primary for Likud leader - against Binyamin Netanyahu, the frontrunner in the primary, I wrote:
How will Mofaz and Shalom campaign for Netanyahu after saying these things?
Perhaps the answer is that they won't. It's entirely possible that if Netanyahu wins the primary, Mofaz, Shalom, or both could also bolt to Sharon's party.
Not bothering to even wait for the primary, yesterday Mofaz bolted to Kadima following Friday's polls that gave him little chance of winning the Likud primary.
Mofaz made his move a few days after finally criticizing Sharon's move to the left, and around the time letters from him to Likud's 130,000 members, in which he promised to stay in the Likud, arrived in the mail.
While today's polls indicate that the Mofaz defection has had little impact at the polls, I believe that it will ultimately be a positive event for Likud.
For one thing, Mofaz's move leaves Netanyahu and Shalom as the only viable candidates in the primary. Thus, there will almost certainly not be a second-round runoff. The Likud can therefore finally begin its election campaign early next week.
Mofaz was especially close to Sharon, and only got around to attacking Sharon last week. He likely would not have been an asset to Likud in its election campaign. Netanyahu, in contrast, will (assuming he wins) attack Sharon very strongly, and while those attacks may not be portrayed positively by the Israeli media, they will resonate with many traditional Likud voters.
Furthermore, while some former Likud voters might view Mofaz's inclusion in Kadima as a basis to switch loyalties, an equal (if not greater) number will see Mofaz as an opportunistic political whore and will stick with Likud for that reason.
Shalom, though not really more sincere or loyal to Likud and its ideology than Mofaz, will probably be content with coming in second to Netanyahu and assisting in the Likud campaign, figuring that he can again vie for the party leadership should Likud got trounced in the March election, as all polls say it will.
While it does not look as though Kadima can be defeated, I therefore believe that Likud has a good chance of coming in second - ahead of Labor - in the general election. (In light of Likud's recent self destructiveness, I hesitate to predict that this will happen.) In that case, Likud - hopefully headed by Netanyahu - along with the right-wing parties would present a strong opposition to future territorial giveaways by Sharon, an opposition that for better or worse was missing during the period prior to Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria.