It's the Iranian War, Stupid

Before WWII, Churchill quipped 'Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor; now they will have war.' Netanyahu would do well to contemplate his words.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Shaul Mofaz is thoroughly convinced that the late night cable in the Prime Minister's Office between Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzachi Hanegbi, which was exposed the following morning, had one goal: to set the stage in the Likud party for Hanegbi's inclusion in the government, and give Netanyahu a majority, in a vote on an Iran attack.

For 70 days, Mofaz sat in top-secret government forums. For 18 months before that, as chair of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he took part in classified subcommittee meetings. Based on this experience, he is sure that a government vote on an Iran strike is the summer's top story. And if he's right, only God knows where a Netanyahu government strike decision will lead us.

On Monday, when their sky had fallen and their scheme became common knowledge, the four renegade Kadima MKs hid in their parliamentary offices, and refused to give interviews. These are four dubious parliamentarians who are full of themselves. On Monday, Mofaz said that they would be prepared to sell their values for a sufficient price. What values do they even have, to sell?

The crude Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, the self-interested Otniel Schneller, the anonymous Avi Duan who became an MK half a year ago, and the insignificant Arie Bibi? They wouldn't know what values look like, even if a treasure box full of values emptied at their feet. As far as they are concerned, there's only one value - their own self interest.

The renegades were caught with their pants down. In a previous round, their fellow party member, Roni Bar-On, compared them to moths who fly amuck the minute a homeowner turns on the kitchen light. In this new round, their scheme was again not consummated. The dowry they sought for wedding Likud was never delivered. The renegades demanded protected spots on Likud's next Knesset list. It was a ridiculous demand. What Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Moshe Ya'alon did not receive in 2009 was supposed to be handed over to Yulia Berkovich in 2013? Really?

But this is not a story of a fab four, or a fab five or a sexy six. Instead, it's a story about Netanyahu. The world's busiest prime minister, a leader whose desk is crammed with items of existential import, found the time to meet personally with each of these astoundingly important politicians and promise them the moon, should they quit Kadima.

Let's suppose the scheme had worked. What would the dividends have been? Even with four additional MKs, Netanyahu would not have a majority in favor of Ya'alon's problematic plan for drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the Israel Defense Forces. Nor would he have a majority for a budget proposal, even with the addition of the renegades. Everyone in the political arena knows the math. Nonetheless, Netanyahu found cause to spend long hours trying to hatch this scheme, so that on the eve of the long Knesset summer recess, the two-and-a-half month period that begins on Thursday, he'd have a few more supporters in his stable. What good would that have done? Mofaz, as stated above, thinks he knows the answer to that question.

In the end, Netanyahu gained nothing. He didn't get the renegades, nor did he get Hanegbi, nor does he have a majority for a draft bill. Before WWII, Winston Churchill quipped: "Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor; now they will have war." Netanyahu, who admires Churchill, would do well to contemplate his words.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzachi Hanegbi at the Knesset, summer 2011.Credit: Emil Salman



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