Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon is a straight shooter. To understand last week’s brouhaha over Yaalon’s private remarks about Secretary of State John Kerry, one must re-read Yaalon’s book, A Long, Short Path. Yaalon, born and bred in Israel’s left-wing camp, understood that there really is nobody to talk to on the Arab side of the Israel-Arab conflict because “they do not recognize us,” and thus Israel must safeguard its security assets. From there it is just a hop, skip and jump to the Likud, which does not allow itself the luxury of the Left’s peace dreams. Yaalon does not negate the possibility of surrendering parts of the Land of Israel; he simply doesn’t think it is the pragmatic thing to do.
Last week, when Deputy Speaker Ofir Akunis responded from the Knesset podium to the opposition’s no-confidence motion, he emphasized that “There is not one member of the coalition who opposes the fact that negotiations are taking place.” I hurried to raise my hand and clarify to the entire plenum that there certainly is at least one coalition MK who opposes negotiations over even one grain of sand in the Land of Israel – and not because of security concerns.
Why are we blaming the Americans and John Kerry? After all, we have put our country’s heartland up for sale on the auction block – now, apparently, in exchange for money. All that Kerry is doing is conducting negotiations over the price of the merchandise.
When United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Litzman’s proposal was brought to the Knesset to require the agreement of 80 MKs before negotiations on Jerusalem could be conducted, all the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Jewish Home MKs left the Knesset plenum. The Likud whips even urged the Left’s MKs to return to the plenum and vote against the proposal – and to save the Likud from itself.
I remained alone between the empty seats, listening to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni explain why the Knesset must reject the proposed legislation: “If this law passes, there will be no negotiation over Jerusalem,” Livni said, “and then there will be no negotiations at all…” Obviously, I voted in favor of the proposal, in keeping with my opposition to any negotiations whatsoever over the Land of Israel.
What Livni, who heads the peace negotiations, said in simple and clear language directly from the Knesset podium is that at this very moment, negotiations are being held over Jerusalem. All the ministers and deputy ministers are equally responsible for the government’s actions – including the defense minister. If you are conducting negotiations over Jerusalem, precisely why are you complaining about Kerry for attempting to solve the Jordan Valley problem?
There are two points that can currently turn back the tide: one is a geographical point and the other is a political point. Both are interconnected.
The geographical point is the Temple Mount. “He who controls the Mount controls the land,” explained renowned poet Uri Zvi Greenberg. The defense minister is not the first person on the Right to think that we can safeguard the Land of Israel with nothing more than security claims. Menachem Begin promised to build his home in the Sinai, Ariel Sharon declared that the fate of Netzarim in Gush Katif would be the same as the fate of Tel Aviv, and Yaalon makes similar declarations. I have no doubt that as a person of integrity he does so with complete honesty. But as we saw in Aish Kodesh two weeks ago when the IDF, brandishing a Disruptive Use Order, uprooted Jewish-owned olive groves, the voice is the voice of the Right but the hands are the hands of leftist Talia Sasson. And that is just the appetizer.
If additional MKs and public figures join the struggle for the Temple Mount with the full knowledge that they will pay a political price if they don’t, they can certainly stop the collapse that is accelerating with full steam.
The political point is the urgent need to establish a faith-based alternative for the leadership of Israel. The Left is correct when it asks, “So what do you propose?” As long as Israel’s leaders are guided by security concerns alone – existence instead of destiny – we will continue to find ourselves losing ground in an unwinnable rear-guard war.
The Hebrew version of this article appeared in Makor Rishon.
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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