Game's Up for Shalom

Whoever heard Silvan Shalom equate Likud under "Bibi" Netanyahu to Syria's Ba'ath party, and is conscious of the depth of hatred Shalom nurtures for Netanyahu as well as his ability to conduct personal-political struggles, realized yesterday that Shalom is determined to destroy Netanyahu and prevent him from becoming prime minister, even if this means political suicide. See story, Page 2.

Shalom is a world expert on all of Netanyahu's flaws: he knows all his weaknesses, his mistakes, and his shortcomings, and he will be glad to lay them out in detail to anyone who is interested. He will make sure to disseminate valuable bits of propaganda to Labor and Ehud Barak, just as he consciously did yesterday, and he will enjoy every minute.

The struggle with Netanyahu is like that between two Judo fighters, who know how to use the strength of the rival in their favor: a week ago, in a brilliant and brutal maneuver, Netanyahu moved the party primaries forward "in order to shut up Silvan," who, since April 2006, has been calling for primaries. From Netanyahu's point of view, this made sense: Shalom will run against him, will lose, but will have to succumb to the rules of the game and fall behind the victor.

Netanyahu's argument has been that there is a need to rush and hold primaries because the national elections are coming soon. It was obvious that there will be no elections before June 2008. The primaries could have been held in November. But Netanyahu, as Silvan likes to point out, loves small, immediate victories. He is thinking about the battle, not the war.

Then it was Silvan's turn to use his rival's momentum: he said that he is not playing, and therefore he is beyond the rules of the game. He can pillage and destroy at will. His argument - that two months to prepare for the primaries is not enough - is also obvious: he has no chance to beat Netanyahu.