Recent developments on the Likud front as the election campaign draws to a close:
*** Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu says in a video clip on the party's website: “The public knows that I resigned from the government because of the Disengagement. I warned that rockets would fly at Ashdod and Be’er Sheva, and everyone laughed at me. When I was in the government, I attempted to minimize these dangers. But at the moment of truth, I got up and said: No more. Under my term, there won’t be withdrawals like that. The Disengagement was a weakness that will not recur.”
Netanyahu resigned on Aug. 7, 2005, just a week before the actual expulsion began - and after having voted for it in several Knesset votes. MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) was not impressed with the resignation, saying at the time, "He will not succeed in saving even himself, let alone Gush Katif." At the press conference following his resignation, Netanyahu told reporters that he did not intend to fight to thwart the implementation of the Disengagement, but wanted to be recorded in history as having objected to it.
Though an anti-Disengagement banner was photographed on Netanyahu’s home at the time, and though his wife Sara began flying an orange anti-expulsion ribbon on her car, the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza expressed disappointment. "When Netanyahu resigned, it seemed from his words that he was serious, but now it appears that he was just speaking theoretically," then-Council Chairman Bentzy Lieberman told Arutz-7 that week. "As far as we are concerned, his resignation was just an empty gesture."
MK Eldad said this week that the fact that Netanyahu is promising no more Disengagements is worrisome: "That means that he is not promising not to negotiate further withdrawals by agreement."
*** Netanyahu says that he wants the Likud to garner as many votes as possible, at the expense of other nationalist parties, but still intends to form a unity government with Kadima and/or Labor: “If I am elected, I want a large Likud, so that we can take action – but we want a national unity government as broad as possible. This is my main lesson from my first term as Prime Minister.”
Unsuccessful Visit in Market
*** Netanyahu arrived at the Machaneh Yehuda outdoor market in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, hoping to capitalize on the support the Likud usually enjoys there. He was sorely disappointed, however, and left after ten minutes of jeers, criticism and inability to approach the people because of the tight security protection. One of the vendors told an Arutz-7 reporter at the site, “Too bad he came now, and not in the evening to see the poor people rummaging for tomatoes from the floor.” A Likud official said candidly “This was certainly an unwelcome surprise. The market usually ‘belongs’ to the Likud. We don’t know what happened.”
Likud and Yesha Start-Ups: Some Up, Some Down
*** Likud MK Gideon Saar, who was voted into the party’s top spot – after Netanyahu – in party primaries two months ago, says his party will strive to legalize some of the civilian outposts in Judea and Samaria, while those which cannot be legalized will be removed or relocated. Saar said that the best approach is to work for consent between the defense establishment and the settlement leaders.
Netanyahu said a few days ago on this topic, “We are a country of law. We will remove outposts, in agreement with settlement leaders.” He did not specify if he was referring to all outposts, and what type of agreement he expects to reach with the settlement leaders. Many of the flowering Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria started as outposts.
*** Netanyahu has said that he supports the building of another north-south partition fence alongside the Jordan Valley, in order to guarantee that Israel continues to hold on to the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert. Netanyahu feels that these areas are strategically critical and have only a sparse Arab population.
Hamas and Gaza
*** Responding to the Grad Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza earlier this week, Netanyahu said, “Israel must respond immediately and powerfully. In the long range, however, there will be no choice other than to topple the Hamas regime. No other solution will stop the rockets from resuming after a lull.”