Akiva Eldar / Why Netanyahu really wants Livni in his cabinet
Netanyahu is scared the peace process will threaten the wholeness of his government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is resurrecting the ghosts of Menachem Begin and Levi Eshkol, who created a unity government on the eve of the Six-Day War.
The publication in Haaretz Monday of Yossi Beilin's report to the Meretz leadership the day before has opened the ministers' eyes a bit.
According to Beilin, whose sources are the envy of every diplomatic correspondent, Netanyahu has agreed that the negotiations with the Palestinians will be based on the 1967 borders. This is one of the pillars of the statement of principles George Mitchell is slated to present during his next visit to the region in less than two weeks.
Netanyahu is not trying to enlarge his government because a new war is threatening Israel's citizens. Rather, he is scared the peace process will threaten the wholeness of his government. He needs Kadima to fill the ranks that will empty in the wake of the departure of his partners from Yisrael Beiteinu and the National Union, and perhaps also some members of the Likud.
Netanyahu wants Livni inside so that she will not take advantage of the coalition's collapse and push him out of office.
Because of an absence of basic trust between the two, Netanyahu is taking care not to reveal to her the details of the understandings formulated between him and the Obama administration.
He has confined himself to a declaration of general faithfulness to his Bar-Ilan University speech.
Who knows? Livni might renew her old alliance with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman behind his back.
Netanyahu's proposal that the largest faction in the Knesset content itself with a handful minister without portfolio posts was not rotten as MK Dalia Itzik - one of the defectors from the Labor Party to Kadima - has contended.
Netanyahu is not stupid. He knows that it is not possible to keep a party of 28 MKs in the government without important portfolios. The foreign affairs, defense and interior ministries, along with the deputy and vice prime minister titles now in the hands of ministers from the extreme right were (and perhaps still are) actually reserved for top Kadima people.
Will they wait until the war ends and all is said and done. And then where will they go? Perhaps this whole affair is not a deep secret but rather a transparent lie.
From Salit to Bil'in
As of Monday morning, Beilin's announcement also had a Palestinian element.
It will be interesting to see how the new tenders for building in East Jerusalem will affect the position of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. How many bitter pills can he swallow on the way to another negotiating table? He has learned that even when the Israelis sign a document it is not certain they will honor it.
Take, for example, the road map the government of Israel adopted in 2003. It states there most explicitly that Israel promises to dismantle immediately all the outposts established after March of 2001.
There is no need for spy satellites to ascertain that not only are these outposts sill standing but also every traveler on the road to Salit can see a huge billboard at the entrance to the Givat Salit outpost. It states there that the settlement was established in memory of Salit Sheetrit, who was murdered by terrorists in September 2001.
And beneath that it says: "A master plan for the hill has been prepared and approved in principle, whereby it is possible to start planning and laying the infrastructure for 18 plots."
A security source told Haaretz yesterday that the authorities have started proceedings against the outpost. According to the Civil Administration, inspectors will be sent to all the illegal outposts. They will also deliver a stop-work order for the new house currently under construction at Migron.
What validity does a stop-work order have for an illegal house being built in the heart of an illegal locale on private land that belongs to Palestinians?
Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared many months ago to the High Court of Justice that he intended to establish for the Migron settlers a neighborhood of their own adjacent to the settlement of Adam. So that the justices would not order him to evacuate the outpost immediately, the minister promised to file the plans for the new site by the end of last August. The plans have not been filed and in the meantime it has been decided to freeze construction in the settlements. Barak can argue that because of the freeze the Migron settlers have nowhere to go and because of natural growth they have to expand the outpost.
Barak has learned that in the only democracy in the Middle East, it is still possible to thumb your nose at the Supreme Court. Take, for example, the High Court of Justice's order in September of 2007 to consider "within a reasonable amount of time" a fairer route for the separation fence, which sits on land taken from the village of Bil'in for the benefit of the settlement of Modi'in Ilit.
At the end of 2008, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch declared the chosen alternative incompliant with the court ruling and ordered the state to dismantle the fence "without further delay."
This week 2009 will come to an end and apart from more demonstrations and more casualties on behalf of Bil'in, there is nothing new on the fence front.
According to the Israel Defense Forces spokesman, in December it was decided to reject all the objections to the new route and therefore there is no legal reason to prevent its adjustment.
"It is the intention of the defense establishment to begin erecting the amended route of the fence right at the beginning of 2010," the spokesman said.
Attorney Michael Sfard, who is representing the inhabitants of Bil'in, says the IDF has not internalized the constitutional structure of the state of Israel.
According to him, anyone who thinks he is entitled to start carrying out a court ruling from September of 2007 now is spitting in the Supreme Court's face.