Photo Credit: Jewish National Fund
Even his most ardent supporters know Binyanim Netanyahu and his Likud also might have formed a governing coalition with Mansour Abbas and Ra’am if he and they could have formed a 61-seat coalition majority with that Arab party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood – the crucial difference being that they would have been four Arab MKs ro 57 right wing MKs, but still crossing a red line. Netanyahu also closed down building new homes in Judea and Samaria at times, although he also authorized the construction of others and a of a new settlement, but also stopped Chomesh from expanding although carefully did not destroy it, He also was prepared during coalition talks to negotiate a split governance that the President had not initially authorized, and more.

However, it now emerges as a blessing that the ill-conceived Bennett-Lapid-Meretz-Labor-Ra’am government, truly born in sin, ultimately are the ones who actually did form such a governing coalition with Mansour Abbas. Because the unequivocal proof now is so manifest that it was wrong and misguided, utterly disastrous and contradictory to the entire Zionist enterprise to bring in Ra’am. Now that such a catastrophic step not only has been taken but is playing out to its inevitably terrible results, religious Zionists see that Bezalel Smotrich was absolutely right all along: Zionists do not form a government with Ra’am even if it means needing to go back to elections ten times.

The political sophisticates had it all figured out. Everyone in the Bennett-Lapid-Gantz-Saar-Liberman-Michaeli-Horowitz-Abbas cacophony would need everyone else, so everyone would give a little, get a little, and the quiltwork governing coalition would last its duration as a peaceful centrist experiment where all would balance each other, no one would be happy — the supposed definition of a perfect and fair compromise — and everyone ultimately would live side by side in quasi-harmony.

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And yet it took, what, half a year? Now we see the result. A deputy minister, Yair Golan, calls perfectly behaved normative Jews in Judea and Samaria “subhuman.” We previously expected that kind of language from Nazis. A Jewish government actually contemplating tearing down Jewish vineyards. And now thousands of Arabs — Bedouin this time — rioting against Israeli soldiers, hurling heavy boulders, needing aerial tear-gas deployment to rein them in, as they demand control of the Negev. In an interview on Israel’s public television broadcaster, Kan 11, one prominent Arab said it plain and simple: The Negev is part of Palestine.

So it no longer is about Arabs demanding “only” Gaza and the so-called “West Bank” — the latter fictional term a despicable place-holding Arab nickname for “Yehudah and Shomron” (Judea and Samaria). Instead, suddenly, now the Negev also is part of the ever-expanding fiction of “Palestine,” yet another piece of land to be part of the absurd “Two-State Solution”? Go to this link. Click the news report for January 13 (13.01.22). Go to the time of 28:00 (twenty-eight minutes into the report) and watch the half-minute interview with the Number Two of the northern wing of the Islamic movement. He does not bat an eyelash as he declares authoritatively that “the Negev is an inseparable part of Palestine.”

And indeed this much is true: The Negev most certainly is as much a part of “Palestine” as are Gaza and Judea and Samaria — because there is no “Palestine” and there never will be. But that does not mean there will not be chaos and war over this next attempted Arab land-grab.

The Negev is where Ben Gurion University is located. The city of Beersheba is its regional center. David Ben-Gurion made his home there. And the Negev has Dimona, and Dimona has whatever it has. Even the 1947 United Nations plan allotted the Negev to the Jewish country called Israel. Arad, Sderot, and Netivot are in the Negev. So are many of Israel’s most important military bases.

It is good and important to know all this now — before the Likud or anyone else ever forms another government with Ra’am, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Through all the 54 years since June 1967, and even dating back to the 1964 founding of the “Palestine Liberation Organization” (P.L.O.), the Arabs have claimed a non-existent “Palestine” country as theirs, crafting a non-nationality they falsely call “Palestinian,” comprised initially of pre-1967 Israel and then redefined after the June 1967 war to focus instead on reclaiming the land the Arabs lost in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the rest of Judea and Samaria. Yet it had been a long — long — time since any of them dared claim openly that they deem the Negev as “Palestine,” too. If they had, Ben & Jerry’s would have told us so.

But now, thanks to the Bennett-Lapid government born in sin, these Bedouin “feel their oats.” They just shoved through the Knesset a bill that had been inconceivable until Bennet-Lapid: legalizing utility hook-ups of electricity, telephone land lines, and other governmental infrastructure to illegal homes Arabs have constructed in the Negev without permits — even as the evil government tears down structures in Chomesh. That gave these Bedouin a new impetus to flex muscles. They now believe they are ascendant and Zionism in retreat. They suddenly feel no need even to hide their intentions.

Next has come the battle over planting saplings in the Negev during the days before Tu Bishvat. Yes, in the Shmitah year (the Biblical Sabbatical year of the land), planting is forbidden under Torah law. However, there are certain halakhic exceptions whose complex explanations lie beyond this discussion, and those exceptions allow the planting now — just as there are times when halakhic exceptions allow certain eating on Yom Kippur. Moreover, as Rav Dov Lior has ruled, Israel suddenly finds herself embroiled in a life-or-death war for its very land sovereignty in the Negev, and that sudden demand overrides Shmitah considerations even if the halakhic exceptions did not exist.

This is the price of a government that relies on associates of the Muslim Brotherhood for its majority. They look to Mansour Abbas — and an Arab Muslim — to cut down the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and to give them the votes to change the procedural and substantive rules by which non-Jews can convert to Judaism. They need his four Ra’am votes so badly that they prostrate legislatively to allow thousands of illegal Arab homes to be connected to electricity. And now they actually would defer to Bedouin demands that Zionists from the Jewish National Fund be stopped from planting trees in the Negev.

This government has to fall of its own weight. The Yamina (literally “Right Wing”) party never sought and therefore never received a mandate to coalesce with Left-wing Labor, radical-left Meretz, and the anti-Zionist Ra’am. Knesset members like Ayelet Shaked, Nir Orbach, Idit Silman, and Ze’ev Elkin of New Hope truly need to look into the mirror to see what they have allowed themselves to become. Each compromise of personal principle has led to a new degradation. These four right-wingers and, except for Shaked, religious Zionists, rationalize to themselves: “Just one more compromise, and we stop. OK, just one more beyond that. OK, just one more.”

In time, they preside over buildings torn down in Chomesh. Then they acquiesce to a Supreme Court that has been Left-dominated for 73 years but that finally now can be balanced because three seats have opened — but they will not coalesce the 66 right-wing Knesset seats they won because they hate one flawed man and covet power more than they would save the Negev from Bedouin aspirations of Arab sovereignty.

So they watch timidly as their government allows Arabs to build homes all over Area C, threatening the Jewish majority in that critical region. Their government has backed down on announced plans to build 9,000 new homes, primarily for young religious couples squeezed by a nationwide housing shortage, in Jerusalem. And now they would buckle to demands by Arabs that Jews stop planting trees in the Negev because that is “Palestine.”

There is no “Palestine”. There will be no “Palestine.”

This is less and less of a Zionist government. And soon this government will fall.

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Rabbi Dov Fischer is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County; senior rabbinic fellow and West Coast vice president of the Coalition for Jewish Values; and an adjunct professor of law.