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December 9, 2008: Likud Primaries

December 9, 2008

Because of a power failure that complicated the use of electronic voting machines, the Likud primary got off to a slow start yesterday, with hours for voting ultimately extended until 1 AM. Today the results are in.

The list numbers 42. How many of these 42 get seats depends on how many votes Likud will secure in the elections in February. Right now the prediction is that Likud will get something like 35 mandates.

The top ten on the list:

1) Binyamin Netanyahu
2) Gideon Sa’ar
3) Gilad Erdan
4) Reuven Rivlin
5) Bennie Begin
6) Moshe Kahlon
7) Silvan Shalom
8) Moshe Ya’alon
9) Yuval Steinitz
10) Leah Nass

For the full list, see:



Of particular note is Moshe Feiglin, who made it to number 20, and thus will almost certainly be in the next Knesset. Feiglin, a religious nationalist who heads the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish leadership) faction of Likud, has been seen as a “spoiler” by Netanyahu, who would have preferred he not be on the list. As I mentioned yesterday, Netanyahu tries to stay centrist in his political stance, in order to draw the maximum number of votes. Feiglin’s ideology is not centrist.

Now Feiglin says he wants to heal his relationship with Netanyahu. Hopefully he will play it smart in the weeks to come.

But my thought (my prayer?) is that perhaps people are really ready for a change. For it’s not only Feiglin who should be noted. It’s also Bennie Begin, ideologically a nationalist. In fact, a number of people who opposed the “disengagement” did very well in this primary — from an old-timers like Ruby Rivlin and Gidon Sa’ar (who’s Likud faction head) to a new comer like Moshe Ya’alon.


Immediately after results were announced, the left wing — Kadima and Labor notably — began their hysterical campaign: We won’t have peace if you vote Likud, because it’s been taken over by right wing fanatics.

Fanatics? Hardly. Just people who understand a good number of important things:

That Jews have rights in this land.
That Israel must defend herself against her enemies instead of constantly appeasing.
That there is no one on the other side who is genuinely moderate and represents a partner for peace.
That it is important to represent our position with pride and integrity, rather than doing PR for the PA.

It could be that Olmert’s talk about how we “must” give away almost everything beyond the Green Line, and Barak’s refusal to take out Hamas infrastructure in Gaza have disgusted a good many people in this country, who are very ready for a change.


I see already that Bennie Begin is going to be a huge asset to the campaign. This is what he had to say today:

“For months we were force-fed the assumption that there is nothing more important to the citizens of Israel during this time than integrity, honesty and candor. Kadima can’t compete on these issues with the Likud’s list – and so immediately informs us that from now on the important thing is policy.

“Now Kadima will latch on to the claim that Likud’s policies are extreme right-wing. Now they will drop the matter of Livni’s integrity and they’ll decide that the import thing is policies. In this debate, they are at a disadvantage.

“Any sensible person can see that the leftist government led by Kadima and Labor led Israel into corners that are hard to get out of on both the northern front and the southern one.

“A sensible person no longer differentiates between left and right, but between those who have deluded the public in their disconnect from the Middle Eastern reality, and…those who warned in advance of the adventures of the Kadima-Labor government, and whose warnings indeed came true.

“Many are now sobering from the delusions Kadima cultivated, and these people will find their way to the Likud.”


No one can predict how the election in February will play out, because we are living in such volatile times, and various events hovering on the horizon may affect the electorate in one fashion or another.


I strive mightily, dear readers, to strike a professional tone as I write. There is much I’d like to express that stays only implicit. But this I share: Every time Ehud Olmert opens his mouth, I get sick to my stomach.

Today he was in the south, visiting communities within range of the Kassams. In Sderot, he responded to the expressed fears of a sixth grader. What he said was this:

“I am very touched. I…have been sharing your fears and concerns for a long time.

“We know what needs to be done, we also know when and how to do it so that you won’t live in fear, you won’t have to run short of breath. We know what to do, how, and when we will do it.

“…The State of Israel cannot live under these conditions in the long term. As long as I am responsible… we will work to get you out of this situation. The other side also knows that the Israeli government doesn’t just know how to protect itself, but also knows how to strike.”

Hypocrite. Offering words instead of action. The “other side” sees an Israel that chooses not to strike. Again and again, no matter the provocation, we hold back from a really serious response. And thus, sixth graders in Sderot — for whom the prime minister has responsibility — continue to live in fear.

“We know when to do it.” Is, perchance, the timing affected by political considerations rather than genuine defense needs?


Today, at a conference in Tel Aviv, Kadima party head and foreign minister Tzipi Livni said she is “ashamed to call what is currently happening a ceasefire.”

“A [military] response is important; even if it doesn’t automatically end the Palestinian rocket fire, there is something important in the impression, and Israel’s deterrence ability.

“Israel cannot accept Hamas rule in Gaza, and therefore from the strategic point of view we need to focus on what is happening there. When we are faced with a decision to come to some kind of arrangement – like a ceasefire – which may seem in the short time a legitimate interest, we must remember that when Israel gets into these arrangements, they harm us and strengthen Hamas.”


Well, good morning! Isn’t this what those of us who are “right wing fanatics” have been saying all along?

Could it be, is it just possible, that what’s happening in Likud is affecting the political climate, and so Livni is tilting just a bit more to the right? This is the same Livni who opted out of completion of the Lebanon war because she had confidence that the UN would protect us via Resolution 1701. Now she’s talking about deterrence.

I hasten to point out, however, that the deterrence she’s speaking of is a response to each rocket attack on us. She’s not referring to a major action. But if it’s true that “Israel cannot accept Hamas rule in Gaza,” then nothing short of a major action will achieve that end.


According to today’s Haaretz, which cites army sources:

“…the Israel Defense Forces have been ordered to maintain a policy of restraint. As a result, the IDF is embarking on very few operations against the rocket-launching crews.

“Since the Gaza border flared up again on November 4, following an IDF operation to destroy a tunnel near the border in which six Hamas operatives were killed, more than 200 rockets have been fired at Israel. This includes 32 Grad Katyushas fired at Ashkelon over the course of a few days. The IDF views this as proof that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have large stockpiles of rockets, including sizable numbers of the longer-range Katyushas.

“…Palestinian efforts to lay bombs near the border have also spiked in recent weeks.

“However, the IDF’s rules of engagement have remained unchanged. Soldiers are allowed to fire freely at rocket- and mortar-launching cells immediately before, during or after a launch, and with permission from a senior officer, they can also fire at Palestinians trying to lay bombs within half a kilometer of the border fence. Other than that, however, no offensive operations are permitted: For instance, the army cannot attack Hamas’s offices or training facilities or assassinate members of its military wing.

“The main method via which Israel has tried to pressure Hamas instead is by tightening the blockade of Gaza. But while Hamas is feeling the pressure, it could opt to respond not by lowering the violence, but by escalating it, in the hopes of achieving a new cease-fire on better terms.

“The fact that Hamas has asserted almost total control over the smuggling tunnels from Egypt means that it largely determines what kind of merchandise enters the Strip…”



Jimmy Carter: another man who turns my stomach.

Carter — who trots around the globe undermining US policy — is in Lebanon now and expressing readiness to meet with Hezbollah. The question is whether Hezbollah is ready to meet with him.

Carter is going to be assessing whether his Carter Center in Atlanta — which, you should be aware, is heavily funded by Arabs — will participate in monitoring next year’s parliamentary elections in Lebanon. What this brings to mind is his participation in monitoring a PA election with Arafat, which he dutifully declared to be fair and democratic, though it most decidedly was not.


Mahmoud Abbas, PA president, is in Mecca and gave a talk there today, declaring:

“We talk about various ‘core issues’ such as Jerusalem, the refugees, borders, settlements and more. There’s also the matter of prisoners, and there will be no solution without the release of every single prisoner behind Israeli bars.”

That’s several thousand terrorists he wants released.




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