For Israel's Opposition Leaders, 'Never' Is Never 'Never'

What made Labor leader Yachimovich to toy with the idea that the government she described as an 'alien to the values of the Labor movement' could change its spots?

Guess who said the following: "I will not join the government for any price, but this option exists if my party will have the possibility of influencing the political process." No, it was not Tzipi Livni, the Kadima leader until at least Wednesday evening. It certainly was not Zahava Gal-On, the new Meretz leader.

Correct, that leaves us with the Labor Party chairperson, Shelly Yachimovich. She uttered that sentence on Saturday at a Shabbat Tarbut cultural event in Mevasseret Zion, and it was published on Yachimovich's website. She noted that joining the coalition "to be a seat-warmer" is something she considers despicable, but if from the ministerial seat Labor could promote diplomatic efforts, an agreement with the right is an option. Ehud Barak could not have given a better description of the Labor Party refugees' partnership with Yisrael Beiteinu.

Amos Biderman
Amos Biderman

What changed for Yachimovich? What pushed the political process to the fore in a politician who just eight months ago wrote "The existing political order, which until the tent-camp protest dealt almost only with political right and left, is a narrow, unimaginative agenda ... which stifles and buries every other discussion about our life here ... It does not serve Israeli society and does not serve the striving for peace" ("My only 'sin' is that I do not meet the demands of the post-Zionist order," Haaretz, September 2, 2011 ).

What made Yachimovich toy with the idea that the government she described there as an "extreme-right economic and political government, alien to the values of the Labor movement," could change its spots? Perhaps it was the consensus regarding the settlements that she discussed in the interview with Gidi Weitz that preceded the above article?

Did Yachimovich receive a new poll which showed that social justice went out of fashion and that "the political process" is filling its place on the political hit parade? Who knows, perhaps she will change her mind and include the Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, in her tours, to show that the Palestinians that there is still life in the Israeli peace camp and prove just how important it is to her to influence the "political process." Perhaps from the chairman's office things start to look a little different.

Yachimovich recently showed that she is capable of making her positions flexible; four years ago, she left the Knesset plenum during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's address in protest over the decision to allow her to speak there in German. A few days ago, Yachimovich met with Sigmar Gabriel, the chairman of the German Social Democratic Party who was visiting Israel. As far as is known, they conversed in English.

Yachimovich's office did not provide responses to the above questions.

If I forget thee, Migron

It will be interesting to see how long it takes right-wingers to claim that Supreme Court President Asher Grunis is an undercover agent of Tzipi Livni. Otherwise, the "Land of Israel faithful" will say, he would not have published the decision to reject the government's motion regarding the evacuation of Migron specifically on the eve of the Kadima leadership primary. In so doing, he presented the opposition chairperson with a heavy weight to drop on the government. Indeed, a short time after the publication of the High Court of Justice decision, at an election meeting, Livni chided the government saying, "leaders must make decisions - not flee from them and wait for the court to decide for them."

Livni surely assumes that few, if any, remember that she was the justice minister in the Sharon government who, in March 2005, adopted Talia Sasson's report on the outposts. The report stated that Migron, like most outposts, was built without a permit on private Palestinian land. Livni headed the special ministerial committee for implementing this report which recommended among other things that Migron be evacuated. As written here last week, the committee softened the report and the government continued to contribute to the growth of the outposts.

Moreover, while she was acting prime minister and foreign minister in the Kadima-led government, Livni promised the whole world that Israel would honor the Quartet's 2003 Road Map. The section on dismantling outposts established after March 2001 appeared in this document with the addition of the word "immediately."

A Google search for the combination of Shaul Mofaz and Migron failed. It seems that Livni's rival for the Kadima leadership has even less faith than she does in the public's short memory. It seems he is worried that someone will remember that Migron was established during his tenure as chief of staff, the person who oversees law and order in the territories. If Mofaz tries to ram the prime minister with the Migron issue, Netanyahu might yet recall that Migron began to thrive during the time when he, Mofaz, was defense minister in the Sharon government.

In all things relating to Migron, the Israel Police is also not immune to amnesia. In July 2009, at the height of the heated public debate over ownership of the land on which the outpost sits, Haaretz published the following report by Uri Blau: "The National Fraud Investigation Unit recently completed its investigation of land purchases at the Migron outpost. The investigation focused on a company called Al Wattan, which bought from Palestinians some of the land on which the outpost was built. The Fraud Investigation Unit investigated suspicions that some of the company's documents were forged ... a police official confirmed the details."

In response to a question about the investigation, the National Police Headquarters offered the following statement: "The National Fraud Investigation Unit is unfamiliar with an investigation corresponding to your description."