I must confess, I’m not exactly a big fan of Tzipi Livni. Whether it was her incessant bashing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the last government or her indefatigable efforts in the past as well as in the present to promote the suicidal two-state solution, the current Justice Minister simply rubs me the wrong way. Nevertheless, and perhaps a bit ironically, in certain ways I’m coming to respect her more than Netanyahu himself.
Despite their nearly ten-year age difference, ideologically the two of them share a similar background; they both come from right-wing Revisionist families connected to the ideas and vision of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and they both entered politics via the Likud. However, that’s where the similarities end.
While Livni has, politically speaking, come out of the closet and no longer pretends to be even remotely associated with the right-wing nationalist camp, Netanyahu on the other hand continues to hide behind the guise of the Likud, a rather convenient cover in that it allows him to project himself as a mature right-wing nationalist leader. Of course his public support for the two-state solution, his implementation of a complete freeze on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria during the last government, his current semi-official freeze on Jewish building in eastern portions of Jerusalem, his appointment of Ehud Barak in the last government and Tzipi Livni in the current government to key positions of power vis-à-vis the very Jewish settlements that they oppose, makes it absolutely clear to anyone who is not blind where Netanyahu stands on the issue of Judea and Samaria.
Even if we assume that Netanyahu’s declared support for the two-state solution is just a bluff, as Danny Danon would want us to believe, it’s still an extremely damaging bluff since the public assertions of a Prime Minister, and a Likud one at that, only increase the expectations of the world, making it that much more difficult for Israel to eventually change direction and choose another path.
Personally I don’t buy the bluff theory and I’m certain that what the Prime Minister says, the Prime Minister means. However since Netanyahu, unlike Livni, cannot fully come out of the closet, he continues to veer leftward ideologically yet simultaneously continues to hide behind the cozy confines of the Likud. Although such behavior might be a bit schizophrenic and has probably fooled quite a few people, it’s one that has greatly benefited Netanyahu since it’s enabled him to stay on top for quite some time.
The question is, when will someone finally blow the whistle? Although in the past there were several Likud MKs who were openly critical of Netanyahu’s increasingly leftward leanings, unfortunately most of them have apparently been stricken with an acute case of laryngitis ever since the Prime Minister appointed them to be Deputy Ministers. Their silence is not only deafening but it’s truly tragic since it’s inadvertently inching the country that much closer to the point of no return vis-à-vis the two-state solution.
Similarly, for far too long many good rank and file Likud members have been defending Netanyahu saying, “He’s the best possible leader of all the bad options”. The question is, what are these people going to say after he affixes his signature to a document that officially proclaims an Arab state in Judea and Samara? Will they be mesmerized by the star-studded White House ceremony or made proud by the Nobel Peace Prize that is certain to follow? This is no longer a hypothetical question as day by day Netanyahu, perhaps as part of a deal with America concerning Iran, is dragging Israel in the direction that would make both Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter proud.
This September will mark twenty years since the Labor government of Yitzhak Rabin launched the tragic Oslo process and in doing so began digging our national grave. Will the current government under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu close the coffin by signing away Judea and Samaria? If Netanyahu continues to hide behind the cover of the Likud, and everyone allows him to get away with it, then unfortunately there’s a very good chance that Netanyahu is going to sign that piece of paper on the White House lawn.