Last-minute appeal to Livni
However one looks at the situation, Bibi's government in this format is not the answer to the grave problems the country faces at this time.
This is a last-minute appeal from a worried citizen to Tzipi Livni: Give Bibi a call and tell him you are ready to join a unity government under him. I know you are seething over the fact that even though Kadima won the elections by one seat, Bibi will be prime minister, and an ego factor is also obviously at work here. Maybe you are thinking deep down, "Let's see how you will get along with this narrow government that you have cooked up for yourself."
And maybe deep down you are also mocking Bogey Ya'alon, who as defense minister will have to replace his army boots, which he said would protect him from slithering enemies in his farewell reception as chief of staff, with knee-highs.
After all, you are intimately familiar with all this. You remember the intrigues, the microphone-grabbing and the overturning of tables at Likud Central Committee meetings.
From the time you were a young girl you also undoubtedly recall that Menachem Begin lost seven elections before he finally reached power and brought us peace with Egypt, but was shattered psychologically by the behavior of his party members and the protest demonstrations in front of his home, which focused on the number of fallen soldiers in the first Lebanon war.
I am evoking Begin here because during the "waiting period" in 1967 he joined a national emergency government unconditionally, without any calculations and without any portfolio. And after he came to power he co-opted the Democratic Movement for Change to his government, which, as it happens, had the same number of seats as Lieberman. But its influence was the same as its minuscule size.
The skeleton of the Bibi government, which is now taking on flesh and form, recalls a central character in a horror movie. A faction of 15 members, most of them unknowns, will shape the character of Israel's next government. The thought that the central figure here, Avigdor Lieberman, tried to dictate who Israel's next justice minister will be, while he himself faces a hefty indictment, is intolerable.
And this time no one will be able to claim that they didn't know this before he was appointed king of Israel, that the person to decide on the next public security minister will deal with a fifth of Israel's population, whose loyalty, he has expressly declared, is a condition for their citizenship. Above all, he is abrogating to himself the foreign affairs portfolio, the state's show window.
How can someone like this represent us in Europe, which even without Lieberman sees us as war criminals and murderers of children? How will he persuade others that we are not what we are made out to be?
"In Europe, Lieberman is likened to Austria's Haider," says Silvan Shalom. Let's assume that Silvan is angry at Bibi for not keeping his promises - that doesn't mean he isn't right. The foreign minister cannot go around talking like a bouncer. How can someone who once told Mubarak to go to hell from the Knesset rostrum, and on another occasion threatened "to blow up the Aswan Dam," conduct talks with the Egyptian president?
When Begin, who throughout his life talked about Greater Israel, came to power, he appointed Moshe Dayan foreign minister. When asked why he gave the coveted post to someone from Mapai, of all people, he replied: "I want someone for whom the world's greats will rise in respect when our foreign minister enters their office."
At one point midway through 1977, when the Carter administration was planning an international conference, we were asked whether we would be ready to discuss Jerusalem, too. Dayan called Begin from New York and persuaded him to agree to this. As usual here, the story hit the headlines.
Begin offered a laconic response: "What are negotiations? They will say Jerusalem should be divided and we will say 'no.'"
Those who lie down with dogs should not be surprised when they wake up with fleas. The formation of a narrow government in which Lieberman is the central figure is liable to set back the rule of law in the country and end up in a confrontation with the U.S. administration.
It is not clear how long Bibi's narrow government, with Lieberman and the National Union, will last. It is no coincidence that Aviv Bushinsky, who was Bibi's right-hand man as prime minister, wrote in Haaretz this week that a narrow and fragile government is big trouble and blackmail to boot. An editorial in the latest issue of Nekuda, a settler journal, notes that Lieberman has set his goal: to become prime minister in the next elections.
However one looks at the situation, Tzipi Livni, Bibi's government in this format is not the answer to the grave problems the country faces at this time. And by deciding to stay out, or making Kadima's participation conditional on rotation, you have assumed a dual risk. Both the danger that Kadima in the opposition will disintegrate, and also that the government will take the country to places we do not want to go.
In principle, after all, you are ready for a unity government. The rotation is no more than a piece of paper. Yitzhak Shamir once told a politician who asked him what he should do with a written commitment that was not honored to hang it on the wall. Well, rotation-schmotation, do not place your ego on the scales against the national interest.
In your hands lies the key to the country's future. Give Bibi a call.
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