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Weekly Commentary: Bibi’s Choice – Defining the Likud

Aaron Lerner Date: 22 December 2005

Newly elected Likud Chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu’s desire to remove
criminal elements from the Likud Party is laudable, but it is hardly the way
to address the electoral liability that Moshe Feiglin’s presence in the
party may represent.

That Feiglin was sentenced for leading a stringently non-violent movement
against Oslo should be an embarrassment for anyone embracing democratic
values. The equally incredible ruling later that Feiglin’s crime was so
odious that he should be barred from running for the Knesset for seven years
was a terrible stain on the Israeli justice system.

Surely the legal minds entrusted with putting Netanyahu’s desire to clean up
the Likud are smart enough to come of with a way to bar those with a truly
criminal record from representing the Likud without also barring someone who
tried to stop Oslo via nonviolent protest activities.

Yes, Feiglin blocked roads in protest. And while I personally oppose such
activities it would be the height of hypocrisy to claim that this activity
is grounds to bar someone from running for the Knesset when at the very same
time the Labor Party’s chairman and candidate for prime minister was not
only responsible for illegally blocking roads but also for illegally closing
down Israel’s ports, destroying property and illegally seizing control of
factory facilities as the leader of the Histadrut labor union.

Netanyahu doesn’t want to get rid of Feiglin because of his “criminal”
record; he wants him out of the Likud because the competing parties are
using Feiglin’s presence in the Party to label Likud as “radical right”.

And since ideology is really the issue, only ideology can be the legitimate
basis to bar Feiglin.

Netanyahu can come up with a Likud “declaration of principles” and bar
anyone from a party position who refuses to accept the declaration.

“Territorial concessions within the framework of an agreement reached with
the Palestinians must be both preceded by and anchored in Palestinian
security compliance. ”

That’s a principle that Feiglin won’t sign off on because it implies
acceptance of the possibility of territorial concessions.

That’s a principle that MK Uzi Landau, though labeled by Likud opponents as
a “right wing extremist”, could embrace.

It is a principle that sends a clear message to Israeli voters as to just
where Likud is positioned: willing to entertain the possibility of
territorial concessions but rejecting unilateral retreats.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730

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