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Preliminary Notes on the Forthcoming Election

It is widely agreed that the Olmert-Livni-Barak government decided to inflict a crushing blow on Hamas to restore Fatah-leader Mahmoud Abbas’ control over Gaza—a precondition for fulfilling the triumvirate’s commitment to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. This will obviously be the paramount issue in the February 10 election.

Although right-minded people will want Likud to win more seats than Kadima in that election, it is extremely important that the Likud not win too large a Knesset plurality. Such an outcome would enable the Likud’s questionable leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, to appoint too many Likud MKs to his cabinet, just as Ariel Sharon did after the 2003 elections. This was too many for Israel’s own good.

Right-minded people will therefore want to vote for National Union, which, unlike the Likud, is opposed to any further territorial withdrawal and is unequivocally opposed to a Palestinian state. This non-compromising attitude cannot be ascribed to Netanyahu, whose slogan “reciprocity” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority means yielding more Jewish land to the disciples of Muhammad. Netanyahu’s track record at the Wye Summit and on disengagement from Gaza does not inspire confidence.

To state the matter more simply, Israel will need in its next government a significant number of cabinet ministers who are to the right of Netanyahu and who can block any attempt on his part to betray the nationalist camp, as he has done in the past.

Involved here is a problem of “strategic voting,” difficult in Israel given its multiplicity of parties and party coalitions. However, it may—repeat “may”— be possible to circumvent this problem.

Let the Likud, National Union, and the religious parties agree, prior to the February 10 election, that they will “unite” after the election, but solely for the purpose of forming the next government whose only common plank is opposition to further territorial withdrawal and opposition to a Palestinian state. This will not only alleviate concern among right-minded people that refraining from voting Likud will not result in a Kadima-led coalition government; it will also reaffirm undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

Meantime, MK Arieh Eldad, the most prominent member of National Union, should challenge Netanyahu as to whether he is still wedded to the policy of “territory for peace,” or whether his recently announced economic peace plan for the Arabs in Judea and Samaria envisions the creation of a sovereign Arab state in that area, a state that would obviously have arms.

It will also be necessary for Eldad to challenge former IDF Chief of General Staff Moshe Yaalon, now a member of the Likud Party. The question is whether Yaalon’s recently published policy paper, “Israel and the Palestinians: A New Strategy,” surreptitiously envisions an Arab state in Judea and Samaria after the Arabs therein develop what he deems the economic, political, and judicial infrastructure required to make the Palestinian Authority a reliable negotiating partner vis-à-vis Israel?

Israel does indeed need a new strategy, but one beyond the secular mentality of Yaalon and Netanyahu. As I have discussed elsewhere and will again elaborate, the key to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to make Israel more Jewish. Of this, more later.

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