Kahlon the Kingmaker Just Isn’t Bibi-compatible

Netanyahu’s unequivocal disavowal of the two-state solution leaves Kulanu party only one option: to recommend that Herzog form the next government.

Ofer Vaknin

Benjamin Netanyahu, we all know, does not waste his precious time writing a platform to present the vision that he does not have. It’s not news that he doesn’t have much respect for the written word, including international agreements such as the Wye River Accord and the Road Map for Peace. Nor does he have a problem with looking straight into the camera lens and saying, without blinking, that it was Kadima that decided on Israel’s 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip (and not the Likud government, in which he was a senior member). For years the prime minister misled the entire world with the false pose of his two-state speeches at Bar-Ilan University in 2009, to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in May 2011, and to the UN General Assembly in September 2011, while simultaneously encouraging building in the settlements, particularly the most isolated of them, to foil the realization of the two-state solution.

The pressure of the election season forced Netanyahu to drop the mask. In an interview with the NRG news website, he charged that “anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives away territory from which radical Islam can launch attacks against Israel.” The left, he said, “buries its head in the sand” and ignores this danger. By his lights, this left, which is willing to establish a Palestinian state and give radical Islam an attack base, includes Zionist Union, Meretz, Yesh Atid and, of course, “the Arabs.” Under no circumstance will he bring these ostriches into his coalition. But what about Kulanu, to whose leader, Moshe Kahlon, Netanyahu has already promised the Finance Ministry? The party without which it will be difficult-to-impossible to put together a government? Is Kulanu, like Likud and “the natural partners,” unwilling to let the Palestinians create their own state?

For the benefit of he who does not draw up platforms, and who apparently also doesn’t bother to glance at those of other parties, here are a few excerpts from Kulanu’s platform: “The Israeli government must preserve its diplomatic achievements with the Americans, and actively pursue creating an American consensus, followed by a European consensus, adopting the Bush-Sharon letter ...” This important letter, which President George W. Bush sent to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 in the wake of the Gaza disengagement plan, and whose principles were adopted by both houses of Congress, specified that “the United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent, so that the Palestinian people can build their own future in accordance with my vision set forth in June 2002 and with the path set forth in the Road Map” (which includes a freeze on all settlement activity, the dismantling of all settlement outposts and the end of the occupation).

In the letter, Bush noted that the final status arrangement would have to take into consideration demographic realities created in the West Bank (the settlement blocs), but stressed that any changes made to reflect these realities must be mutually agreed upon. It also specifies that a “just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue ... found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there,” must also be agreed on mutually.

A platform is not a recommendation. It is a contract between the party and the voter, particularly when it involves, as Kulanu’s does, the strategic interest of the state. Netanyahu’s unequivocal disavowal of the two-state solution leaves Kahlon and party candidates Michael Oren and Yoav Galant only one option: to recommend that President Reuven Rivlin charge Isaac Herzog with forming the next government, thus rescuing Israel from elimination as a democratic, Jewish state that belongs to the family of nations.

The author is a senior columnist for the Al-Monitor website’s Israel Pulse.