When Americans discuss the far-right threat to a two-state solution, Bayit Yehudi and its chairman, Naftali Bennett, are typically cited as the main culprits. While they are opposed to a two-state solution, they understand the limits of the Religious Zionist message. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Naftali Bennett probably understands that he isn’t going to be Prime Minister anytime soon.
What isn’t talked about as often is the threat from inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own Likud party. Casual observers in the United States would be shocked to learn, for example, that the bombastic Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu now represents the more moderate wing of the center-right’s electoral coalition. The internal apparatus of the Likud party, led by Convention Chairman Danny Danon are totally opposed to Netanyahu, unbeknownst to many here.
All of this is probably rooted in the myth of Netanyahu, that he is constantly in control and has the confidence of his countrymen. It’s certainly a vibe he gives off, but it’s no less false. Take today’s Tel Aviv District Court ruling ordering discussion on the peace process at the Likud Convention. According to Ha’aretz:
The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday accepted Likud MK Danny Danon’s petition to allow Likud to discuss any issue at its convention on Wednesday, paving the way for Likud’s central body to debate United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan and potentially block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from making controversial decisions regarding the plan
This is a huge loss for Netanyahu, and the handful of moderates remaining in the Likud leadership. While this can still be overturned by the Supreme Court, it’s a sign that Netanyahu is losing control early. This can have dramatic implications for the peace process. Will Netanyahu defy the far-right or will he revert back to the Bibi of old? The problem is the latter may no longer be an option. Danon and his gang aren’t interested in strategically avoiding concessions to the Palestinians. They want a head on confrontation.