Gideon Israel
Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center

The Tragedy of the Likud

The Likud list for the upcoming Knesset has been decided.    It’s a right leaning list, similar to the Likud of the early ‘90s, where most of the top twenty members are against a Palestinian state.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is undoubtedly disappointed, as he would prefer a balanced list; which would enable the party to draw additional votes from the center and center left.  While the list is decidedly right leaning and the ideological faction of the Likud is well represented, there is also something tragic about the list.  The tragedy of the Likud is that many Likud members were forced to vote solely based on a single ideological consideration – who will protect the Land of Israel and fight against a Palestinian state.

For the past 15 years there has been a continuous onslaught by the media and the Israeli left against the residents of Judea, Samaria and the former residents of Gush Katif promoting a peace agreement and a Palestinian state – no matter what the cost.  Sadly, the two-state solution has also somewhat infiltrated part of the Likud.

One of many examples of the proponents of the two-state solution and the need to relinquish significant portions of ‘territory for peace’ is Tzippi Livni.  Livni, whose star seems to be on the decline, continues to be a player in Israeli politics.  The main issue that keeps her in politics is her desire, will, aspiration and obsession to reach a solution with the Palestinians.  To the objective onlooker, there really isn’t a partner for peace right now.  Maybe in a few years, maybe the chance was missed, but at present, even those in the peace camp understand that Abu Mazen’s strength, and thus his ability to make peace, is questionable, and with the situation in Gaza still in the balance, nothing can really be moved forward.  For Livni, this is a non-issue, since her political life depends on reaching an agreement with the Palestinians.

Ehud Barak is another example.  Whenever he felt that he was becoming irrelevant in Israeli politics, he pulled another rabbit out of his hat: disengagement from Judea and Samaria, dismantling of settlements, Palestinian state within three days.

This continuous barrage on their core commitment to Judea and Samaria has left many Likud voters on the defensive.  Thus, instead of Likud members knowing that its candidates follow Likud values and selecting those candidates that are the most appropriate for the Knesset, their sole consideration when voting is: will the MK fight against a Palestinian state.

There are plenty of domestic challenges that face Israel: budget issues, housing, Bedouins seizing government land in the South, low salaries, brain-drain etc.  However, many of these issues are simply left unattended because the fight for the Land of Israel is still being fought within Israel.  The country would be able to move forward on many of these issues if only the left would leave the Land of Israel issue alone for five years.  If it did, there would be a massive movement of the ideological camp to focus on other important issues in Israel.  Many people living in Judea and Samaria might even relocate to the South, social and economic issues would be the main issues for everyone in Israeli politics and the criteria for voters in the Likud primary wouldn’t be only ideological views of the candidates.  However, the tragedy, and disservice to the country, is the unwillingness of the media and the left to cease attacking the Land of Israel – even for a few years – especially now when the two-state solution isn’t even a reality.  Rather, they criticize the national camp for only focusing on the land of Israel issue and ‘ignoring’ other issues while simultaneously they are trying to take Judea and Samaria away from those who love the Land of Israel and give it away to our enemies.

About the Author
Gideon Israel is the Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center which focuses on strengthening US-Israel relations through mutually beneficial policy projects.