For the past several months the head of the Jewish Home Party (JHP), Naftali Bennett, has been repeatedly stating that his party has its red lines regarding negotiations with the Arabs and that it will not remain in the coalition at all costs.
If there is any truth to what he says, and I would like to believe there is, then I would suggest for several reasons that he put his words into action and leave the coalition now.
For starters, the JHP needs to differentiate itself from its predecessor the National Religious Party (NRP) which lost favor with much of the national religious public for its hesitancy to leave the coalition prior to the 2005 Gaza Disengagement. Thus, rather than waiting until such a move has basically no effect, as was the case with the NRP’s decision roughly ten years ago, Bennett needs to take the initiative and leave now.
Secondly, Bennett and company need to understand that unfortunately they, together with several good nationalist MKs from the Likud, have no real influence on the direction that Netanyahu and Livni are dragging the country. This being the case, their continued presence in the coalition actually causes damage since it provides cover for Netanyahu. In other words, unlike Tzipi Livni who has completely shed her nationalist past and no longer pretends to be even remotely right-wing or nationalist, and unlike Ariel Sharon prior to the Disengagement since ideologically he never truly was a right-wing nationalist leader considering his left-wing kibbutz background and his active involvement in helping to forcibly remove Jews from Yamit more than twenty years before he expelled them from Gaza, Netanyahu still tries to portray himself as a genuine right-wing nationalist leader.
For this reason, the claim that the JHP must stay in the coalition lest Isaac Herzog and his left-wing Labor party take their place is nonsense! The best thing they can do now, considering the fact that they have no real influence from within the coalition, is to leave and force Netanyahu to expose his true colors by bringing Labor on board to help him implement the final stages of the Oslo nightmare. In such a scenario, Netanyahu, once the “great hope” of the right, will be hard-pressed to remain within the Likud as it will be nearly impossible for him to look most rank and file Likud members in the eye. Although no one knows for sure how Netanyahu would react in such a pressure-filled situation, the JHP nevertheless needs to take the initiative and create such a situation since it might be the only chance they have of stopping the current madness.
Moreover, even if Netanyahu were to bring Shas or Aguda on board, either together with or in place of Labor, this should not be the concern of the JHP since both of these parties would be digging their own political grave if they actually were to help Netanyahu and Livni in reaching a suicidal agreement with the Arabs.
Perhaps most importantly, by leaving now on a matter of principle, Bennett and company can finally display some real leadership, something that they have yet to do since joining the coalition one year ago.