MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) expressed great satisfaction on Sunday with the fact that his party’s status has significantly increased since it joined the coalition.
Hermesh said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to evict the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, a position supported by Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, was proof of his party’s significance.
“Kadima is the party with the greatest influence on the government,” Hermesh told Arutz Sheva, adding that if Netanyahu would not have chosen to evict and relocate the residents of Ulpana, he would have reconsidered Kadima’s joining the coalition.
He added that Netanyahu previously could not act in accordance with his “relatively moderate positions”, as he put it, because of the extremists in the government. Now, said Hermesh, Netanyahu can act according to his moderate positions because he has Kadima’s support within the coalition.
“Without Kadima’s 28 hands in the government, which soften and diminish the right-wing positions, Netanyahu would not have dared to stand strongly against the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood and against [MK] Ya’akov Katz, and I say this with full responsibility,” said Hermesh.
He added that he was surprised by MK Zevulun Orlev for continuing to promote the law to legalize Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods. The law would mandate solving cases in which homes were built on private Arab land through compensation rather than destruction but, according to Hermesh, if the Arab landowner refuses to accept compensation he cannot be forced to do so. This should be applicable in all of Judea and Samaria, in the Ulpana neighborhood, and in similar cases in the rest of the country, Hermesh claimed.
He also rejected the threats of some of the nationalist Knesset members, from the Likud and other parties, to leave the government if the Ulpana neighborhood is demolished.
“They won’t do it for one simple reason, and that is the popularity of the Prime Minister and his being perceived by the public as the only man worthy to hold this position,” claimed Hermesh. "No one can oppose a strong leader. They will roar, bark and call the whole world into action, but this is a powerful and popular Prime Minister. It’s hard to believe that someone from within his own party will challenge him. I'm not sure that Hotovely, Danon, Regev and Edelstein can present an alternative.”