We can turn off the alarms. Netanyahu will not lead us to the abyss of radical rightist policy, because such policy is impossible. A narrow right-wing government will not revoke the citizenship of Arab-Israelis, it will not bomb Iran tomorrow morning, it will not reoccupy Gaza, it won’t be able to rebuff the Road Map, and we can assume that under Obama’s close watch it won’t be able to boost the settlement enterprise.
Such government will be able to adopt rightist economy policies, and will likely do so in any case, because for Netanyahu this is a religion. A broad government with Kadima won’t hinder Netanyahu’s economy, because Kadima does not present the kind of left-leaning policy adopted by most of the world at this time. That is, Kadima joining the government would not change its policy too much, but rather, only serve to provide it with a fig leaf.
Instead of Netanyahu facing his voters and the radical makeup of his party and telling them the truth – that all the Qassams in the world won’t return the Greater Land of Israel – with Kadima in his government he will be able to use Likud to curb any attempt to move in the direction of partition, while also keeping the radical Right in his party under his wings.
In that case, in the next round of elections, which is apparently not too far, the Likud will again be able to wax poetic using hawkish rightist language, saying it could have realized its vision had it not been hindered by Kadima’s moderates. In other words, Kadima joining a paralysis government will not pervert the paralysis, but rather, shift the blame for it to Kadima.
Meanwhile, as opposition leader, Kadima would be able to prevent both Meretz and Labor party doves from portraying themselves as the only alternative to the Right. The truth is that the alternative to the settlers at this time is not “peace,” but rather, a drive for partition even without peace.
A long time passed until the voters sobered up from the deception of negotiations, and it would be very bad to bring back the illusion that a deal is just around the corner. Under guise of this just-around-the-corner, the settlement enterprise keeps growing and the following decisive fact is fading: In order to save Zionism from bi-nationalism, we shall apparently have to force the partition of the land on a refusing partner.
Public rejects old division
Kadima in the opposition will also ensure that Labor stays there. This is also a good thing. Ehud Barak must be kept away from the Defense Ministry and from the leadership of the Labor party. He contributed nothing to withdrawing from the territories and did nothing to evacuate unauthorized outposts.
He did distance voters from Labor, and now he is watering down the results of the Gaza operation, because he is allowing the aggressive policy vis-à-vis Hamas to dissipate into a feeble war of attrition. On this front, Likud hawks may actually do better: Deterrence is not secured via sophisticated zigzags, but rather, with determination that does not tolerate any attempts to get smart.
And lastly: Kadima scored an impressive accomplishment even though the commentators declared that it is a “refugee camp.” The achievement stems from deep reasons. Most of the public rejected the old division between the “Peace Camp” and the “Settlement Camp.” It does not want partition to be a captive in the hands of the settlers on the one hand and Mahmoud Abbas on the other.
Kadima needs time to formulate this position and sharpen it, while building party institutions. It also needs to clean itself up from corruption, partition refuseniks, and people who joined it just to get on the bandwagon. All of this is needed in order to stabilize the political Center. There will be no way to do this under Netanyahu, should Kadima choose government seats at the expense of its ideological path.