Opposition to Netanyahu’s apparent yielding to American pressure is seething within the Likud. Moshe Feiglin, leader of the party’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction, warns that Netanyahu is following the path of former Prime Minister and Likud leader Ariel Sharon in preparing to give up large parts of the Land of Israel.
The issue at present is when to hold party elections. Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit say that if elections are delayed, it could cost Israel its united capital.
"Netanyahu lost the most important thing that any country needs – its own sense of justice and self-justification - when he agreed to ‘two states for two peoples.'"
“Don't pay attention to Netanyahu's declarations,” Feiglin wrote in a letter to Likud members on Tuesday, “but rather to his actions. Construction in eastern Jerusalem is already completely frozen. The process we are going through is exactly what led up to the Disengagement from Gush Katif, which nearly killed the Likud.”
Likud Shrunk in 2006
After Sharon pulled off the expulsion/withdrawal from Gush Katif and northern Shomron in the summer of 2005, resentment and opposition to him within the party grew so strong that he felt compelled to quit and start a new party, which he named Kadima. Over a third of the Likud’s MKs quit and joined Kadima, which trounced the Likud in the next elections. The Likud dropped from 38 Knesset seats to 12, while Kadima won 29.
Elections: Before or After End of Freeze?
Support and opposition for Netanyahu within the Likud is critical at this time, when political party issues are being determined. Elections for the Likud Central Committee are scheduled for next month, but Netanyahu wants to postpone them, in order not to see his influence there drop. Specifically, he is worried about the Feiglin supporters gaining a stronger presence in the Committee in time for the end of the Jewish construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, scheduled for this September. Netanyahu wants to be able to have free rein to extend the freeze, in accordance with U.S. pressure, but he will not have an easy time passing such a decision in a Feiglin-strong Central Committee.
Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv District Court has ruled that the elections must be held on time – unless the Central Committee changes the party constitution, which Netanyahu would like, but is also unlikely. Netanyahu has offered a compromise date in September for the elections, but Manhigut Yehudit rejects this, saying it will be too close to the end of the freeze.
Michael Puah, Director-General of Manhigut Yehudit, told Israel National News on Tuesday, “We want two things: The elections must be held by the end of May – three months later than they should have been held, but it’s the deadline set by the court – and that the voters’ rolls be ‘kosher’, and include only dues-paying members, not those who stopped paying four or five years ago.”
Puah: "Netanyahu is Already Dividing Jerusalem!"
Puah explained why the coming elections are so important: “It’s not only that he’s already decided to extend the freeze in Judea and Samaria – he’s already dividing Jerusalem! He has given the order to the police not to allocate manpower to the razing of any more illegal Arab buildings in eastern Jerusalem; this will be publicized today or tomorrow… It could be that our fight over the Likud elections will end up saving Jerusalem!”
Asked how he explains that Netanyahu, whose commitment to Land of Israel ideology and strong stance against terrorism have been life-long ideals, would be anxious to yield to Obama’s pressure, Puah said, “It’s clear that he’s not a bad person or a traitor, but the fact is that we must ask ourselves this question: Why is it that Israel has never been so strong economically or militarily, yet we’ve also never been so weak politically? Why is it that our leaders are treated worse around the world than Ahmedinajad and other terrorists? The answer is that we’ve lost the most important thing that any country needs – its own sense of justice and self-justification.
"Bibi [Netanyahu] showed that he lost this when he told the world that he agrees to ‘two states for two peoples.’ He’s basically saying that we are criminal conquerors and that though we deserve our own country after the Holocaust, we really took it from someone else. And the reason this happened to him is because, like all other prime ministers before him, he is not connected to Jewish roots or to G-d as he should be, and therefore he thinks he’s in charge, and therefore he goes the way of all Jews throughout our Exile – bending his head to be slapped… If our leaders were to say proudly that the Land of Israel is ours, period, we would not be in the position we are in now.”
Puah was asked: “Wouldn’t Netanyahu want to be able to tell Obama that his hands are tied from within and that his party is not letting him extend the freeze, etc.?”
He responded, “Your question is the proof of what I have been saying. If he truly wanted to deflect Obama’s pressure, he wouldn’t be fighting us regarding these elections.”