Required: A Clear Worldview

The Likud appears to be avoiding the process of clarifying its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and focusing merely on surviving in power.

The Agranat Commission, which investigated the circumstances of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War that took the IDF by surprise, castigated the government's misconceptions regarding the Arab states.

The commission found that the high command in 1973 had a fixation about the conditions in which Egypt and Syria are likely to attack Israel. Consequently, the commission concluded, the general staff and government failed to interpret correctly the moves made by these two states in the days leading to the war, which clearly signaled their intention to go to war.

Since then, the political and military planning and thinking processes have shied away from preconceived worldviews. Instead, the Israeli governments and ruling systems have exalted improvisation, adjustment and swift maneuver.

The deep crisis in the Likud, which was played out again in the Knesset on Monday night, demonstrates the ideological vacuum in which the ruling party is wandering, arousing nostalgia for the era in which it had a world view. Today the Likud is a political supermarket whose consumers, more than 900,000 voters, are wandering along its shelves, finding a multitude of various products that have no common denominator.

Moreover, on the way to the cashier the consumer runs into 40 sales representatives, each pleading with him to buy a different product, which is often incompatible with the one another salesperson shoved into his wagon. One can say this is the merchandise offered by large parties in numerous democracies. Platforms no longer have any value, the differences between the parties are insignificant, and in any case the voter is mainly influenced by the image of their leaders. This is true, but as long as the conflict with the Palestinians has not been solved, the state's borders have not been demarcated and the definition of its identity has not been completed, the political discourse in Israel needs an ideological debate to determine the fundamental issues.

The vote in the Knesset on Monday, in which Ariel Sharon was defeated, focused on the past, not on the future. The group of Likud rebels settled its score with the prime minister for the disengagement plan (and for his personal conduct); their protest vote did not refer to his future intentions - because nobody knows what they are.

Sharon is not offering the Likud a clear plan of action in state affairs, whether because he prefers to hide it or because he has not yet formulated it. In these circumstances, there is no ideological controversy between the Likud's leader and the rebels. The argument is retroactive - about the pullout from Gaza rather than the future fate of the West Bank. This is a regrettable albeit deliberate failure, as the Likud ought to hold such a debate and determine where it is headed.

Every organization needs a worldview, a guiding line to direct its steps. Without it, it is bound to atrophy, all the more so if it's a political party. The Likud appears in the past year of this Knesset's term to be avoiding the process of clarifying its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and focusing merely on surviving in power. Although this behavior is expected, it does not exempt the Likud, if it is a responsible party, from the need to make an ideological decision. It must determine its approach to the future Israeli occupation in the West Bank, its answer to the injustices that the occupation is causing the Palestinians and to the damages it is causing the state, and what is its basic solution to the conflict.

The choice of a general worldview is the Archimedean point from which the party's composition, organizational framework and relations between its parliamentary faction and leader will derive. The patches with which the Likud is now trying to cover up its internal ruptures will not hold for long.

This diagnosis also applies to the Labor Party, which is electing its leadership today. It too is urgently in need of a clear worldview which will distinguish it unequivocally from the right wing and offer the voter a clear ideological alternative. The party's present fudging, demonstrated by backing Sharon's policy in the West Bank, has evaporated, exposing Labor in all its shame.