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Another Likud Rally Against the Freeze

Last month, September 9th, saw a much hyped, but much deflated Likud rally with a very confused message about whether Netanyahu was being strengthened or rebelled against by attendees of the rally. Nobody could really figure it out, which is why only about 200 showed up to the event in Likud headquarters that was looking to draw thousands. That, and some of the speakers at the event turned back, and others got mysteriously stuck in an elevator on their way up to speak.

danonThis time, a rally is being planned in the settlement of Revava, tomorrow, Oct. 6. It is being put together by Likud MK Danny Danon, who has lately been making waves as a potential leader of the hard right wing line of the party, which evidence suggests has been growing all the more dominant over the past two years.

The point of the rally will be to call upon Netanyahu to clarify his position on a settlement freeze. This seems like a good thing to demand, being that nobody really knows what in the world he’s thinking, nor ever seems to have a clue. There is a good reason for this. If he takes a real position on the issue, then he’ll anger somebody. So he can’t really say anything. So it’s doubtful Danon will inspire him to do so. But here’s to trying, eh?

“Please tell me whether due to Palestinian rejection, the freeze on construction has been canceled,” Danon wrote to Netanyahu. “Right now, the situation is unclear, so please explain the government’s position on the matter.” Netanyahu ignored his letter.

Recently, neoconservative columnist Daniel Pipes has mentioned Danny Danon in one of his columns as “up and coming.” If Pipes recognizes Danon as up and coming, then something might be up here. He has run for Likud chairman in the past, though only garnering a dismal 3.5%, trailing Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin. My guess is he’ll do better in his next run.

Here’s my prediction with regard to up-and-comingness. For those who follow internal Likud politics, it should come as no surprise. The next race for the Likud throne will probably consist of the following candidates, mainly at least.

1) Danon, who is obviously setting himself up for a run by being so outspoken.
2) Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, who also has been making waves lately, though the last few weeks he’s been fairly quiet.
3) Feiglin, who has run in every Likud election since 2000 and has promised to run in the next one as well.

There may be a smattering of others, but they will either drop out or get a negligible slice of the Likud pie. The big question is, will Bibi run again? The answer to that depends on how his government ends. If it runs full course, which is doubtful, chances are he probably will. If it falls and he looks bad, he may not. It depends on whether he even wants to have a third round as top man. And if he doesn’t, it looks like it’ll be a fight among those three, all of whom are substantially more right wing than the current sitting Prime Minister.

How Long will the Delay Game Continue?

bibi obama abbasA few days ago we saw the much anticipated tripartite meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, PM Netanyahu, and President Obama, in that usual stance where Israeli and Palestinian leader are clasping hands and the US leader is in the middle, hands outstretched, in that sort of “I know, deep down, you really do love each other,” type of body language.

rabin clinton arafatLet’s take a quick analysis of this picture, comparing it to the old one back in 1993. First of all, Obama looks a lot less happy then Clinton. Oh, but wait a minute: So does Abbas, and Bibi for that matter. They all look fairly miffed, like nobody really wants to be there, or they’re all constipated and need some fiber capsules. It’s hard to tell.

What’s really interesting, though, is that Israel is on the same side of the picture as she was in 1993. The left side. Abbas is on the right, as Arafat was. What is the significance of this? Take a look at any popular book on body language. What it will tell you is that to show the palm of your hand is an expression of capitulation, whereas to show the back of your hand is an expression of power and domination. When Bibi is on the left side of the picture, shaking Abbas’ hand with his right, he shows the back of his hand in the photograph. Abbas is left open-palmed and helpless.

I solute Bibi on this move, whether or not he did it accidentally.

But then again, it doesn’t really matter all that much. Nobody wanted to be in that picture in the first place anyway. And back home, everybody is griping about it. Following the meeting, Minister Without Portfolio (AKA Minister of Absolutely Nothing – there are a few of those in Bibi’s government) Benny Begin (son of the late PM Menachem Begin) called the chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat a “wild beast of a man” quoting the Bible in describing Ishmael.

Senior PA officials who came along with Abbas to New York called it something of a “complete failure,” in that Obama is reportedly no longer demanding a total settlement freeze from Israel. Further, Bibi and Abbas reportedly came back from the meeting with totally different conclusions, Bibi’s being that negotiations will proceed without preconditions, and Abbas’ being that negotiations will only resume after a total settlement freeze. At least they both came away with conclusions at all.

MK Danny Danon, a Likud lawmaker, said that now that Obama failed to obtain any concessions from Arab countries, Netanyahu must restart unlimited building in Judea and Samaria. That’s the right. And on the left…

Even Yossi Beilin, architect of the Oslo Accords and former Meretz chairman, is all hot and bothered. In his words, “It was clear that the participants were not enthusiastic about the meeting. It wasn’t a meeting of people who want to make peace.”

What would give you that idea? Could it be the looks on their faces? So I repeat the question posed in the title of this article. How long will this game of picture-taking and delay go on until somebody makes a move, somewhere, on some sort of principled stance involving any kind of conviction?

Could be a while. I wouldn’t count on anybody currently in office moving anywhere significant.

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