Nationalists may look at the Likud Knesset Member list of candidates as a victory for ideology in Israel’s largest party, but the gains may come at the expense of the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home)-Ichud Leumi (National Union) combined list of MKs.
The two parties now hold seven seats in the Knesset and have expected until now to win at least 10, if not more, in the January 22 elections.
They have attracted more popularity because of new leadership that has thrown out most of the Old Guard but also because of the waffling policies in the Likud government.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has professed nationalist policiesת time and time againת but has allowed the government to take actions that are totally opposed to encouraging a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.
The most recent cases were the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El and the Jewish community of Migron. In both cases, Netanyahu said that he would make sure Jews would not be evicted, while at the same time his legal advisers prepared for expulsions.
Netanyahu displayed the same grandstanding in 2005, when the Sharon government, in which he was Finance Minister, voted to expel more than 9,000 Jews from communities in Gush Katif, northern Gaza and northern Samaria.
He led the cheerleading for Jews to remain but voted for the expulsion. He finally voted against it only when it was certain that his vote would not damage then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s so-called “Disengagement” plan.
Nationalists have been thoroughly disappointed by the performance of Minister Benny Begin, who has contradicted his nationalist philosophy by siding with centrists, and by Netanyahu’s sponsorship of Dan Meridor four years ago to become a Likud MK. Meridor has stated that he would consider ceding most of the strategic Golan Heights in return for a peace treaty with Syria.
The centrist position of the Netanyahu government has thrown more support behind the Jewish Home-National Union list, but this week’s Likud primaries were nothing short of a revolution.
The entrance of Moshe Feiglin into a spot that guarantees his election was a major victory for nationalists who have accepted his strategy that it is better to work within a major party rather than trying to influence policies through a smaller faction.
Moreover, the Likud’s top 10 candidates are prominently nationalist to the hilt, while Begin and Meridor were bumped to rankings that might leave them out of the next Knesset.
Netanyahu previously has done everything possible get rid of Feiglin out of fear that his strongly national religious philosophy would harm the Likud.
This time around, he may be quietly grateful for Feiglin’s entrance, which could siphon off strength from the Jewish Home-National Union and give the Likud more seats in the next Knesset.