Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Netanyahu’s Enduring Political Game

February 22, 2012 8:03 am 0 comments

Benjamin Netanyahu campaign posters in Jerusalem from 2009. Photo: wiki commons.

Following the recent announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will run for president of the Likud Convention, the future of the current Likud has suddenly been thrown in the air. For in spite of its somewhat colorful history, this is the first time that a current Likud PM has attempted to grab control of this key decision-making institution, a move that in effect further neutralizes the influence of Likud Central Committee members.

The motive given by Netanyahu for this unprecedented move is to thwart the alleged intention of the newly elected Central Committee to cancel Likud primaries and in doing so restore the task of selecting Knesset members to the Central Committee itself.

However, this assumption is tenuous. Central Committee members clearly understand that any move aimed at allowing internal party hacks to once again have the power to choose MKs is akin to political suicide: Rival parties will portray the Likud as going back to its corrupt old ways; Likud rank and file members will feel bitter for being pushed aside and losing their recently acquired power to decide; the Israeli media will have a field day ripping apart the Likud.

Thus it’s far more likely that the real reason for the unorthodox move by the PM has nothing to do with the Likud primaries and everything to do with the highly unpopular Ehud Barak. More specifically, it appears that Netanyahu wants to use the convention to pass a resolution that will allow him to have a few reserved slots for the people of his choice in the next party list.

This way, should Likud win the next national election, Netanyahu can bring these people – assumed by nearly everyone to be either Ehud Barak and his small Independence Party or Ehud Barak and some anticipated Kadima defectors – unimpeded into the Likud.

Such a plan, however, is certain to backfire as outside of the PM himself, most members in the current right-wing nationalist coalition, including the majority of Netanyahu’s own Likud party, are not exactly fans of Ehud Barak. His Oslo ideology and harsh stance against Jews living in Judea and Samaria perpetually irks nearly every Likud MK and, by extension, most Likud voters.

Hence, for many people it is both perplexing and irritating that Netanyahu not only continues to support Barak but even gives him free reign to do as he pleases, rather than simply ousting him as defense minister and giving the position to someone like former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon.

In a similar vein, albeit in the opposite direction, three years ago many potential Likud voters were turned off by Netanyahu’s incessant attacks on Moshe Feiglin and the apparent monkey business in having Feiglin knocked down from the 20th to 36th slot following the 2009 primaries. This in turn was one of the reasons that led to the Likud plummeting in the polls prior to the last elections, as the average Likud voter prefers a party that is full of genuine right-wing candidates to one that is constantly trying to improve its image by moving leftward.

Will Netanyahu make the same mistake again, in this case by doing everything possible to magically transform Ehud Barak into a Likudnik and in the process ostracize many potential voters? If so, it’s doubtful that this time around he will be rewarded with a second chance in the same manner as he was in 2009 when he was asked to form a coalition only after Tzipi Livni and the victorious Kadima party failed in their own attempt.

In the final analysis, it’s only Bibi, and not Tzipi or Yair or anyone else, who can stop the Likud and the Right from winning the next election and forming another right-wing nationalist coalition. Which way will he go?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Food Spirituality/Tradition ‘Pastry Secrets’ Arrive Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah

    ‘Pastry Secrets’ Arrive Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah – Babka. Strudel. Stollen. Danish pastry. Not to mention Gugelhopf and Charlotte. The names set the mouth to watering and conjure up lovingly concocted pastries that feed the body and comfort the soul. If you didn’t have a grandmother who baked these delicacies, you wish that you had. George Greenstein was never a grandmother, but his life as a baker provided his children and grandchildren with memories infused with the smell of fresh baked bread and rugelach. His daughters, Julia […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Fusing Israeli and Holocaust History, Novel Offers a ‘Middle Eastern Western’

    Fusing Israeli and Holocaust History, Novel Offers a ‘Middle Eastern Western’ – There is a game that all of us have played at some time in our lives. We ask ourselves: What would my life be like if I had gone to this school instead of that one, or if I had married this girl instead of that one? In their newly published book The Ambassador, authors Yehuda Avner and Matt Rees play that game with modern Jewish history. Avner — who died earlier this year, and was a speechwriter, secretary and adviser to […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Lifestyle A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

    A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

    A unique group of young fashion bloggers and designers recently visited Israel to learn more about the country’s fashion industry and diverse culture. Hailing from the Philippines, Korea, Kenya, Japan, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.K., the 10 participants toured the country and met with top Israeli fashion designers throughout last week. “It was an amazing experience,” said Meissene Maghni from Toulouse, France — one of the participants of the program. “I’m Muslim and I really wanted to see Israel […]

    Read more →