The simple conclusion from the Right’s recent failure to pass the Regulation Law, intended to protect Jewish homes from being uprooted in Judea and Samaria, is that the fateful, strategic decisions are determined by one man: the prime minister.
The Likud Central Committee, the MKs and ministers and, in some way, the satellite parties can all improve the traveling conditions in the train. They can get another road built here and another kindergarten opened there. And that is important. But the direction of the train can only be changed from the locomotive – namely, from the prime minister’s seat. And when the prime minister decides, the rest of the railroad cars will follow.
These railroad cars are not only the ministers and MKs. They are the entire national camp – first and foremost, the settlers themselves.
It is not possible to pass the Regulation Law because first, Israel must annex Judea and Samaria. In other words, Israel’s High Court said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, “If you do not stop this law, we will force you to continue on the track to annexation. We will not allow you to treat this law as a tactical measure, something that must be done because the public cannot bear the destruction of these homes. We will force you to view this law as a strategic issue. It is either annexation or expulsion.”
Did anyone doubt what Netanyahu would choose?
An open secret steadily hovered over the struggle for passage of the Regulation Law. It is the type of secret that everybody knows but nobody dares verbalize. The secret is that as long as you are standing on the prime minister’s shoulders and he is irreplaceable, you can do everything to convince him – but nothing to force him. If you have no alternative other than to send thousands of text messages, to go on a hunger strike and to make empty threats – in the end you will be forced to eat whatever the prime minister chooses to dish out.
The Left, on the other hand, has plenty of bullets in its cartridge. Netanyahu has already been grazed by them, and he was in no mood for the international pressure that the Left was planning to enlist to skew the Regulation Law. His choice between the neutralized Right and the warmongering Left was clear from the start.
Just a few years after the destruction of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron, a destruction for which Netanyahu voted, President Shimon Peres assigned him the task of forming a coalition. Netanyahu did not win the elections but rather due to the battle that he waged against me, he actually lost to Kadima. But Peres turned to Netanyahu for one reason: All the right-wing parties, including the most prominent representatives of the settlers, endorsed him to form a coalition. Ironically, Netanyahu almost lost the premiership because of his war against me. And the person who saved him was the National Union Party’s rightist MK Ya’akov “Katzele” Katz.
Did the Right have a choice? Would it have been preferable to have then- Kadima head Tzipi Livni form the government? Apparently, there was no other choice. But it is important to understand that the situation today remains the same. And that is precisely Netanyahu’s ace in the hole. Just as we voted for him after he supported the Expulsion from Gush Katif, we will continue to support him after he has led the current expulsion – simply because we have no other choice. That is the reason for Netanyahu’s unrelenting and seemingly illogical battle against me, a battle that almost cost him his seat of power. Netanyahu understands this point very well. He understands that his strength is in the fact that there is no choice but him, and he understands where the only alternative of substance exists.
When we include the stolen votes from the recent primaries for the Likud chairmanship, I won approximately one third of the total votes. Maariv reporter Mazal Mualem reported that on the afternoon of primary day, Netanyahu was sure that he was going to lose. He was wrong; he wasn’t about to lose. But if the settler establishment and opinion makers had stood by me, we could have garnered about 40 percent of the votes and established the faith-based alternative as a real option for the Likud chairmanship.
Simply put, those who made it their business to call on the settlers to stay home and “vote from their armchairs,” those who made it their business to attack and ridicule the faith-based alternative from the pages of the right-wing media, left the ministers no choice but to line up behind the prime minister.
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Israel's Security and Defense Committee. He heads the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
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