The Party of the Great Vacuum

Kadima's ambitions have shrunk to one issue only: Livni and Mofaz both want to be prime minister.

We heard a vague voice from the past yesterday: Tzipi Livni sent a letter. We haven't heard from her for months, but here she is. Kadima's leader sent a letter to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, as if to remind us of her existence. The letter is worthless and misleading. Livni calls on the European Union to refrain from taking steps regarding Jerusalem, which would be seen as "an attempt to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for permanent-status negotiations." As if Israel had not unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem and is not continually housing more settlers there - Livni of course doesn't consider that "an attempt to prejudge."

But this hollow propagandistic letter should be set aside and we should listen to the oppressive and disgraceful silence of our main opposition party. Livni's letter only emphasizes the vacuum.

She could have sent the letter as a foreign minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's government. We don't need an opposition party for that. But Livni chose not to join the government, a move that stirred a great deal of admiration, in me at least. She said her choice was based on ideology and values, but eight months after the government formed we are left without an opposition. So it was all a fraud.

Israel's largest party is betraying the role it took up voluntarily. It would even be preferable to have an opportunistic Kadima in the government; at least it wouldn't be camouflaged. With the nonexistent Meretz and the disappearing Labor Party, Netanyahu is the leader of the left as well as the right; to his left is an emptiness and a great silence above the abyss.

Her majesty's opposition has lost its voice and disappeared. With the exception of the dramatic change in her external appearance, Livni has gone underground like her father in his day, during the Mandate. Should we or shouldn't we freeze the settlements? Silence. Should we or shouldn't we go through with the Shalit deal? No answer. Should we or shouldn't we release Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti? Nothing at all.

This oppressive silence has been broken recently only by the pretender to the throne, Shaul Mofaz, who released another useless diplomatic plan without bothering to meet first with even a single Palestinian. He was only seeking attention, not bypassing the government on the left. Two days ago he said the settlement blocs are "a strategic asset for the State of Israel" and the settlement freeze is "a mistake of the first magnitude." With great difficulty Mofaz muttered something about the need to abide by the government's decision, referring to the settlers' revolt. We don't need an opposition for that either; that can be done from within the cabinet.

That is how Kadima stole the left's votes. Tens of thousands of naive (and foolish) people gave their votes to the "center" party, which is not centrist but clearly right-wing, like the entire imaginary Israeli center. In what way is Kadima's Tzachi Hanegbi preferable to Likud's Gideon Sa'ar for voters who deserted Labor and Meretz for the party of the Great White Hope? Why is Mofaz preferable to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and in what way is Livni better than Netanyahu?

Instead of isolating itself in the opposition, Kadima blurred itself into oblivion. It's true that with his vain words Netanyahu pulled the dubious ideological rug out from under Kadima - after all, hollow talk about two states is what Kadima does - but Netanyahu went one step further and declared a construction freeze in the settlements, even if a temporary and absurd one. When Kadima was in the government it didn't do even that.

This is the last chance for Kadima to make clear its uniqueness, if it exists, or to admit an absence of such uniqueness and join the government. Livni has chosen: neither this nor that. She is cloaking herself in silence and waiting for better days.

But those days will not come, unless Netanyahu fails. Meanwhile, Kadima could have acted. Instead of writing letters to Sweden about Jerusalem, Livni could have visited Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan and presented an alternative. But nothing.

Kadima's ambitions have shrunk to one issue only: Livni and Mofaz both want to be prime minister. That's nice. What will they do differently from Netanyahu? Not a thing, except for scattering smiles and promises to the world, which for no reason is fond of Livni. As in the "find the hidden object" pictures for children, you are invited to search: Where is the opposition? Hint: It's hiding in the junkyard.