The Right's Empty Threat of Divorce

Habayit Hayehudi is content to play word games while the government in which it sits prepares to adopt Kerry’s disastrous plan for an independent Palestinian state.

The story is told of a woman who met a friend and told her that her husband intended to bring a second wife into their home. She was furious about it. The two women discussed the possible range of responses, from demanding a divorce to attaching an explosive brick to the husband’s car. About a week later, the wife was much calmer. The hussy is living with us now, she told her friend, but my husband says I don’t have to agree to it.

Last week, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett gave a bellicose speech, winning loud applause from his voters. Bennett promised that his party would quit the coalition without hesitation if the government adopted the document that American Secretary of State John Kerry intends to present to Israel. Housing Minister Uri Ariel was much more specific. In an interview with NRG Maariv, he said that if any authorized agency, such as the government, the security cabinet or the Knesset approved a document that made any mention of withdrawing to the 1967 lines, “we would leave the government.”

So far, Bennett and Ariel have been talking about planting a parliamentary explosive brick in the coalitional car. They are threatening divorce. But these impassioned declarations are empty, intended only for the ears of Habayit Hayehudi’s voters. Evidently, it makes no difference to Bennett and Ariel that the prime minister himself is going to adopt the Kerry document and allow Tzipi Livni to continue the talks with the Palestinian Authority according to the terms laid out in the document — in other words, on the basis of dividing Jerusalem and returning to the 1967 lines. Bennett and Ariel will be able to tell their voters “our hands did not shed this blood,” as they flout the principle of shared government responsibility with the meek claim that “they did not agree.”

Habayit Hayehudi, whose name means “Jewish Home” in Hebrew, is not leaving home even after another woman has been brought into the domicile and even after a fire — the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines -- is raging because “it does not have to agree to it.”

Even when Habayit Hayehudi joined the government a year ago, its leaders and voters knew perfectly well that Netanyahu supported the establishment of a Palestinian state. What was their excuse? That nothing would come of it, that there would be no talks. Even if there were talks, they would lead to nothing. But it turns out that the talks are moving forward. The Kerry document is being solidified, and it is dictating principles that both sides must accept to keep the talks going. Just two clauses remain as the final lines of defense of the Netanyahu government: security arrangements after Israel leaves the Jordan Valley, and Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

The first of those two clauses has to do with quantity, not quality. The second, which is the essential and fundamental one, renders us hostages to Kerry’s linguistic flexibility or to Abu Mazen suffering a sudden attack of pragmatism and common sense. The president of Israel has already begun his own campaign of subversion against this principle, too. Meanwhile, the leaders of Habayit Hayehudi sit and play word games.

The Torah provides a set of rules for what must be done if a corpse is found within the land of Israel and the murderer is unknown. The elders of the city closest to the spot where the corpse was found must take a heifer to the nearest stream, behead it, wash their hands in the blood and swear: “Our hands did not spill this blood [of the murder victim] nor did our eyes witness it.” The leaders of Habayit Hayehudi will not be able to take such an oath if the Land of Israel falls victim to the current peace process.

Emil Salman