Ben Kaspit, NRG’s political analyst (used to be Maariv’s political analyst, but Maariv is no more, much like Kadima), today compared a political party to an ox that pulls the ideological plow in an attempt to leave his imprint on the field. In the ox’s hair there are often fleas which take a ride on the ox but, from their point of view, they, too, are doing the plowing.
As soon as the ox decides it’s time to retire, or when retirement is forced on him by the natural elements, the fleas start searching for a new fur to jump to.
Kadima’s ox, according to Kaspit, the mythical Ariel Sharon, was forced to retire so long ago (he suffered a stroke and lapsed into a comma on January 4, 2006), that by now Kadima is made up of mostly fleas.
In quick succession, Sharon’s first replacement, Ehud Olmert, got into criminal trouble and resigned in disgrace; his second replacement, Tzipi Livni, managed to yank defeat from the jaws of victory after her party became the first in Israel’s history to win the largest number of seats in the Knesset and end up in the opposition; and, finally, the third Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz maneuvered his party into a 70-day session in Netanyahu’s government, where the latter taught him how winning is done: up close and brutally.
Tzachi Hanegbi, among the first Kadima members to openly start negotiations for an new “ox” is a flea’s flea. He enjoyed a kind of nobility status serving the Likud’s old guard, with his yichus as the son of Geual Cohen, the legendary radio broadcaster for the Lechi underground (the Stern gang, as the British called them). As such he was on a straight path to a top position in any Likud government.
Hanegbi was first elected to the Knesset in the 1988 elections, and headed the Prime Minister’s Bureau under Yitzhak Shamir—himself an old Lechi hand. In 1996 he became Minister of Justice in Netanyahu’s first government, which later made him the first former justice minister to stand trial (on election bribery, fraud and breach of trust). In 2010, the court, just as they have recently done in Olmert’s case, cleared Hanegbi of the charges except for one – perjury.
In the meantime, Hanegbi followed Sharon in flea fashion from Likud to the newly forged Kadima. It happened like this: Sharon broke away and created Kadima in November of 2005. Hanegbi was appointed interim Likud Chairman. He served for one day. Sharon offered him a better deal. After one day Hanegbi jumped oxes to Kadima.
Now, as the final Mofaz trick has all but assured the disappearance of Kadima into the place where Israeli political nightmare go to fester, Tzachi Hanegbi is looking to come home to the ox he left behind. He is older and more mature now, he can be an asset to Netanyahu in his field of expertise which appears to be doing whatever you need getting done.
Channel 2 News revealed last night that Hanegbi is leading a group of more than seven Kadima faction members in negotiations of returning to their original party, the Likud.
The gift these fleas in search of an ox are bringing is a promise to vote in favor of Netanyahu’s version of the Haredi draft law, which is essentially a somewhat enhanced version of the Tal law which the Supreme Court killed a few months ago.
The gift Netanyahu is dangling before his potential returnees is a ministerial portfolio for Tzachi Hanegbi, the Homefront Defense ministry, vacated by Matan Vilnai who became Israel’s ambassador to China.
While Hanegbi’s gang is packing a few key provisions for the short trip across the aisle, Tzipi Livni’s comrades in Kadima are also taking the suitcases down from the boydem as we speak, to join some new centrist party which political wizard Chaim Ramon has been cooking, possibly with leader wannabe Yair Lapid.
All these refugee boats (switching metaphors, there’s only so far you can take an ox, you know) are bound by a relatively new Knesset law which says that in order to jump ship and still hold on to their seat, there must be a minimum of seven MKs. So while it appears that Hanegbi already has a solid list of seven, Livni’s supporters have still not finalized their new alliances.