The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The End of Likud And Netanyahu - And Probably The Israeli Right
This post is being written at 3:30 P.M., after the release of exit polls showing that Likud will only receive 10-12 seats in the next Knesset.
For around a year, Binyamin Netanyahu very reluctantly and conditionally supported the planned unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. That support, however grudging, resulted in cynicism and distrust toward Netanyahu from those on the right. As a result, most of those people did not vote for Likud, including most who voted for Likud in the last election.
A week before the commencement of the withdrawal, Netanyahu resigned from the government and expressed strong opposition to the withdrawal. That opposition resulted in cynicism and distrust toward Netanyahu from those in the center. As a result, almost none from that political sector voted for Likud, including most who voted for Likud in the last election.
It's easy and convenient to say that Netanyahu is a mere opportunist. But then what does one make of Ehud Olmert, who radically changed his policies in what is now a successful effort to gain power, or Shaul Mofaz, who switched from Likud to Kadima during a Likud primary race in which he was a leading candidate, or Tzachi Hanegbi, who switched from Likud to Kadima even as he was serving as Likud's interim leader?
Netanyahu chose to run a right-wing campaign, and it backfired. The reality is that Netanyahu and Likud were in a tenuous position once Ariel Sharon founded Kadima. Secular Israelis care less and less about Judea and Samaria, and Likud's voters have historically been mostly secular. For those people, Kadima's vague promise to keep the main "settlement blocs" sufficed. Religious Israelis who do care about Judea and Samaria repeatedly feel betrayed - rightly or wrongly - by Likud, and therefore mostly vote for parties further to the right, or religious parties. Once Kadima was formed, the Likud was left with hardly any constituency.
Without Likud as even a viable opposition party, the right-wing is in shambles. There is no mainstream party to promote the Israeli interests in Judea and Samaria.
Unless the exit polls are wrong, the best approach of the settlement movement and its supporters is to negotiate with Ehud Olmert over which settlements will stay and which will go. This may seem odious, unbecoming and pathetic. But it is the best way to ensure that Israel will have a future in an least a little bit of Judea and Samaria in the decades to come.