The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

28-Feb-2001

The Likud: A Profile in Betrayal

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By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

The Likud has been consistent in one thing only: in the betrayal of its
vaunted nationalist principles. Thus Begin, who yielded the Sinai and
evacuated Yamit. Thus Shamir, whose “peace plan” led to the recognition of
the PLO at Madrid. Thus Netanyahu, who withdrew from Hebron and prepared
the ground for a Palestinian state at Wye. Thus Sharon, whose government of
national unity will complete the Likud’s betrayal of its erstwhile
nationalist principles.

The Likud has never possessed the confidence to rule. Hence it has become
the right wing of the Labor Party and its collaborator in the Oslo death
process. Of course, having now only 19 Knesset seats, Likud chairman Ariel
Sharon is hardly in a ruling position. But even if is party party had 32
seats (as it did in 1996 with Tsomet and Gesher), Israel’s inept system of
multi-party cabinet government militates against any coherent and resolute
nationalist policy.

When all is said and done, however, that Sharon should appoint Ehud Barak as
Defense Minister and Shimon Peres as Foreign Minister makes an utter mockery
of his landslide victory in the February 6 election. True, the polls say
most people want a national unity government, which means, in reality, they
want contradictory things. Still, the appointment of Oslo’s architect and
Clinton’s (or Arafat’s) “toy” makes nonsense of Israeli democracy –
whatever one may say about Sharon’s problem of forming a government.

The present writer, in a previous article, whimsically proposed that Sharon
appoint Barak and Peres on condition that they agree to his crushing Arafat
and reversing Oslo - a condition I by no means expected him lay down in
forming a unity government. Oslo will continue — hopefully with fewer
casualties — because the Likud is and has long been a spineless and
intellectually stagnant party.

Were this not the case, then surely, in view of his stunning popular
mandate, Sharon could have proposed an alternative national unity
government, say with Natan Sharansky (Israel B’Aliya) as Foreign Minister
and Dan Meridor (Center) in Defense, while giving Labor the finance
portfolio and leaving 15 to 21 MKs to share the remaining ministerial spoils
of office.

Of course Labor would balk. But then the onus would be on the party
responsible for Oslo, which the voters had rejected - or certainly can be
construed to have rejected - by Sharon’s unprecedented electoral victory.
Contemplate the blessing: Barak would then retire from public life and so
might Peres if Labor appointed, as it probably would, a new chairman.
Instead Israel is cursed: Sharon has rehabilitated Barak and has restored
Peres, whose intimacy with Arafat will further disgrace Israel and
facilitate its truncaton.

Now, if Labor refused to join the alternative unity government proposed
above, Sharon could form what may loosely be called a “center/right”
government consisting of 65 MKs: Likud (19); the religious parties (27);
Israel Beiteinu (4); Israel B’Aliya (4); National Union (3); Gesher (3); Ahm
Echad (2); Herut (1); and Meridor and Milo from Center.

It will be objected that such a coalition would be most precarious and would
subject Sharon to extortion. But it will be worse with Labor in a “unity”
government, since Peres, who has earned the reputation of being a
“saboteur,” and who regards national borders as irrelevant, will press for
further territorial withdrawal. It may also be objected that a “unity?
government with Labor would be better poised for a major war. Does this
mean that Labor would not join the government in such an extremity?

Be all this as it may, what needs to be emphasized, and what demands
remedial action, is Israel’s suicidal system of multi-party cabinet
government, which multiplies and magnifies the worst vices of men. Thanks
very much to this decadent system, there is hardly a stitch of political
honor or rectitude in this country. Hence Arabs can kill Jews, bomb school
buses, and fire upon Jewish neighborhoods while the government blinks. That
Peres and Barak - one may add Beilin and other Oslovians — can still hold
public office stinks to high heaven, and we shall pay a yet greater price
for such moral indifference. But this is not all.

That certain religious Jews can defend Sharon’s appointment of Barak and
Peres is a commentary on the low moral state to which Israel has sunk. If
you thought Israel had reached the bottom of shame with Barak and Peres
licking Arafat, it will sink even lower if the Sharon government adheres to
the Oslo covenant of death.

Finally, if you say, in defense of Sharon’s “unity” government, that
pragmatism is necessary to save the Jewish state, and then add that Israel
must bow to world opinion regarding Arafat and his Palestinian despotism –
to this I say you have already renounced the Jewish state. Indeed, it may
well be that the “STATE” of Israel must perish if “ISRAEL” is to live!