Opinion: Netanyahu’s Strategic Failures
One year and seven months have passed since Binyamin Netanyahu became Israel’s Prime Minister, and it is time to assess the situation.
When the current government was established, there was a coalition agreement on the table with the National Union. It was only natural that Netanyahu ally with his natural partners and establish a traditional national coalition consisting of 65 seats out of the 109 members of the Jewish parties in the Knesset.
This national-traditional coalition was a natural continuation of the Likud’s Zionist nationalistic elections campaign, headed by Netanyahu. After all, at the top of the Likud’s list were people who were considered loyal to Israel and its pioneers.
Tzipora Livni, head of the list of Likud dissidents who brought us the catastrophe of the expulsion from Gush Katif, announced an agenda according to which an Arab state would be established in the heart of our country, whose cities are Jerusalem, Hebron, Shechem among others, all this predicated on the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes. Netanyahu based his campaign on the unequivocal denial of the ill chosen slogan “two states for two peoples.”
The results of the elections proved once again that the people want a healthy, proud, nationalistic government. Strangely, Netanyahu preferred to break his promise to them and run to Barak, a man with the small failing party, a man with whom the public was fed up after he fled from Lebanon in disgrace and caused the second Lebanon war, abused the people of Yesha, and brought about various security failures.
If Netanyahu had force and ability, and had he stayed loyal to his way, he would have told the truth that he had written and said his entire life: The Land of Israel is ours and we will continue to build in it. Only a decade ago, he failed and fell under the same circumstances and did not learn his lesson.
Following the recommendation by the National Union to President Peres that he choose Netanyahu as the candidate for prime minister, as each party does after national elections, Netanyahu violated the agreement he signed with the National Union. He preferred the Labor party and its head, Barak, with all that this implied politically, nationally and in terms of security. Netanyahu blatantly breached his trust, and may make decisions that seriously injure Israel because of this alliance.
Meanwhile, he has amassed five critical strategic failures:
1) The questionable alliance with Barak led to the announcement during “the Bar Ilan speech” of the acceptance of the principle of establishing “two states for two peoples.” Here Netanyahu declared to the world the opposite of what he had written and promised and according to which he rebuilt his party. It seems as though after the Kadima people left the Likud, Netanyahu adopted their policies.
2) Netanyahu did what no other Jewish leader has ever done: He slapped an order on hundreds of thousands of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria, in cities and villages, juist as other countries, whom we will not mention, did during history. The order states that Jews are not allowed to build houses simply because they are Jews. Jews are not allowed, Arabs are allowed. Such a shameful and racist decree will be taught in Israel’s history books. Researchers will try to understand how this happened, that political parties whose platforms were in favor of exactly the opposite, allowed such an order to be born.
3) There was a de-facto decision not to build in the capital Jerusalem. While publicly announcing that construction will continue in Jerusalem, Netanyahu ordered two Shas ministers responsible for a constituency that marries 6,000 couples a year, not to build in the entire metropolis of Jerusalem. “Zero construction in Jerusalem by the Israeli government,” Israel’s Minister of Housing openly declared this week.
The immediate result is a shortage of 25,000 apartments over two years. Instead of caring for young couples, Netanyahu just put an end to construction in Jerusalem. There is no “real estate bubble” in Israel. Housing prices are increasing simply because… there is no real estate! There is a huge demand and zero supply. Housing prices are rising by tens of percent. A couple seeking a 3-room apartment has to pay more than a million NIS. Most of the public cannot afford this amount.
4) I repeatedly brought to Netanyahu’s attention, as the chairman of a committee to examine the problem of foreign workers, that the phenomenon of illegal infiltration from Africa is assuming enormous proportions. I met with the CEO of his office, with the people in his office, I turned to him, both in writing as well as orally on the Knesset podium. I brought the data which show that since he assumed office, more than 30,000 infiltrators from Africa (more than the number of new immigrants) have infiltrated the country illegally, most of them settled in Tel Aviv, and the rest in Eilat and other cities. We proposed that he appoint Minister of Strategic Affairs Yaalon to eradicate this phenomenon and properly handle of those who have already arrived. Yaalon agreed but says that to date Netanyahu has not approached him.
For reasons known only to him, Netanyahu has left this strategic issue in the care of…Ehud Barak. In schools in southern Tel Aviv, the vast majority of students are the children of infiltrators. Jewish children born to parents who are descendants of families who for 2000 years fought to keep their children from assimilation in the Diaspora, are now being led into assimilation in the first Jewish city in Israel. A right-wing government is leading to intermarriage with its own hands. Why am I the only one shouting about this?
5) Just as the IDF internalized the big mistake of the Oslo Accords and realized that what prevents terror attacks is a strong IDF presence in the Arab cities of Judea and Samaria and not PA goodwill, Netanyahu returned to the failed Oslo routine. It is not a coincidence that terrorist killings have begun again on the roads of Judea and Samaria. The continuing, systematic removal of roadblocks and barriers by Barak, tacitly allowed and even encouraged by Netanyahu, transferring the security responsibilities of capturing the present day murderers to the hands of past murderers who are now known as “the soldiers of the Palestinian Authority”, will undoubtedly move the terror attacks from Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv, just as it was a few years ago.
Netanyahu was an excellent speaker and good ambassador in the UN but as Prime Minister, he wants to be in Barak’s good graces. Netanyahu has charisma but lacks leadership abilities. Ehud Barak was able to control the state of Israel for some time with only 30 Knesset members supporting him. Netanyahu with 65 Knesset members does not feel safe.
If Netanyahu had force and ability, and if he remained true to his stated principles, he would stick to the truths that he has written and said his entire life: The Land of Israel is ours and we will continue to build in it. Only a decade ago, he failed to do so and fell under the same circumstances, but it seems he did not learn his lesson.
So far, ministers Yaalon, Erdan, and Kachlon do not get up and say: ‘We will lead the Likud; we will be an alternative to Netanyahu who collapsed all at once.’
Presumably as a result of the fact that, as we expected, there will not be a continuation of the building freeze, construction will increase and the Arabs have quit negotiations. There will be pressure on Barak from the rebels in his party to leave the coalition. MKs will not want another election and primaries. Netanyahu will have to return to the initial outline and have us join the coalition. But we will join Netanyahu’s coalition on our terms.
We can be viewed as a growing national and religious bloc, which will soon be seen as a viable government alternative to Netanyahu and to the pragmatist Lieberman, who continues to support Netanyahu’s weakness and fallures.
MK Ya’akov “Ketzaleh” Katz is chairman of Israel’s National Union party. He was an officer in Sayeret Shaked during the Yom Kippur War and was seriously wounded during the war.