Yesterday, May 8, 2012, I reported in Netanyahu’s Barbarossa on the deal reached between Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz on the joining of Kadima to the Likud-led government. The result is one of the largest governments in Israel’s history, and the first National Unity Coalition to be formed without the Labor party. The numbers are amazing. Following the 2009 elections, a coalitional government was formed on March 31, 2009; it included the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, the Labor Party, The Jewish Home, and from April 1, also United Torah Judaism; this was a wide coalition with 74 Members of the Knesset (out of 120) being part of it. In January 2011, following Labor's decision to leave the government, its leader Ehud Barak formed a breakaway party, Independence, and stayed in the government that shrank down to 66 MK’s. This was a government barely capable of survival. All this time, Kadima—the largest party in the Knesset—led the opposition. Following recent internal elections in Kadima, its leader—Tzipi Livni—was replaced by Shaul Mofaz (see Upheaval in Ariel Sharon’s Party). After early elections were being publicly considered, Netanyahu and Mofaz struck a deal that brought Kadima into the coalition, with Shaul Mofaz becoming Deputy Prime Minister. This created a National Unity Government (an informal term referring to a government comprising the main parties) of 94 MK’s, meaning that over 78% of the Knesset supports the new government. Even if Netanyahu’s party were to leave the coalition, the government will still have a majority; such a government is almost unbeatable. Netanyahu will spend the rest of his reign repeating words attributed to King Louis XIV of France: “L'État, c'est moi” ( “I am the state” in French).
Netanyahu-Mofaz Alliance May 8, 2012
Netanyahu-Mofaz Alliance May 8, 2012
On paper, this is a great deal for Shaul Mofaz. His party was expected to lose up to half of its seats if elections were to have been held soon. Now he has the time needed to rebuild his party, and to do so from a position of relative strength. The same is true for Ehud Barak, who will stay on as Minister of Defense; Barak was expected to disappear from political life if elections had been held. However, looking at the fine print, one can’t help but conclude the picture is different. There will not be a new coalitional agreement; Kadima is joining the government on its guidelines as stated in 2009.
The agreement with Kadima was signed just after midnight Tuesday at Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem. It makes Shaul Mofaz deputy prime minister. This means he will replace Netanyahu when he is abroad, he will also participate in all closed cabinet sessions that “deal with security, diplomatic, economic and social issues.” However, the political agenda of his party—Kadima—will not be formally represented. Netanyahu said: “The new coalition is good for the security of Israel, good for the economy of Israel, good for the society of Israel and good for the people of Israel.” I have no doubt he thinks so; after all the new coalition is the old coalition led by him, just with a few more votes. Now, Netanyahu will find it easier to struggle with the Supreme Court, which opposes the government on issues of settlements in the West Bank and the recruitment of Haredi Jews to the IDF. The other problem Netanyahu faced—rebel Members of the Knesset in his party—has become irrelevant. No matter how many party members leave Netanyahu’s ship, the ship will keep sailing towards the Hormuz Straits and war against Iran. Mofaz and his party are less supportive of such a war than Netanyahu and Barak—who need such a war for their survival in the long run—but Kadima’s political agenda is not represented in the formal government guidelines. Leading Israeli journalist David Horovitz described the deal as “a masterstroke of Netanyahu.”
The reactions towards the deal were harsh, even in Israeli terms. Those supporting Netanyahu, praised him. However, most people spoke against Shaul Mofaz in harsh terms. This was the result of recent comments by Mr. Mofaz that claimed Netanyahu was a “liar” and “unfit for ruling.” Considering this it is difficult to comprehend his move, unless one considers him a cynical manipulator. Amit Segal, a Channel 2’s commentator, said this was “the deal of the century,” adding that Mr. Netanyahu got “Mr. Mofaz for half-price and 27 other lawmakers free.” The harshest public words against the deal were uttered in the Knesset itself by Benjamin ben Eliezer—the Elder Member of the Knesset—who said to Mofaz: “This is trash. You sold your soul to Satan.” Mr. ben Eliezer, would you be kind enough to clarify whom you referred to as Satan? Does your statement transform Mr. Netanyahu into an anti-Christ? This is interesting because recently, a heretic named John Hagee defined Netanyahu as the Messiah (see Armageddon’s Alliance).
In Netanyahu’s Barbarossa, I emphasized the similarities between the Netanyahu-Mofaz deal and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the USSR. Another interesting analogy is hidden in the deal. It obviously was not a pact between equals, despite Kadima having more MKs than Netanyahu’s Likud. Mr. Mofaz accepted—at least on paper—ahave a proper ministry) and a few other secondary posts. In 1076, Pope Gregory VII attempted to enact reforms to the kings’ investiture process, but was met by much resistance from the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. Henry renounced Gregory as pope; in return, Gregory excommunicated and deposed Henry, in the Lenten synod of 1076, at Rome. He stated that one year from that day the excommunication would become permanent and irrevocable. In fear of an attack by the threatened emperor, the pope hid in Canossa. Henry reached Canossa in the guise of a penitent, and begged for forgiveness and reinstatement in the church. After three days of waiting at the castle gates, while wearing only his penitent hair shirt and fasting, he was admitted and forgiven. This unconditional surrender is known as the Way to Canossa. Mofaz' entry into Netanyahu’s government was nothing but Mr. Mofaz' unconditional surrender, his Way to Canossa in exchange for a government seat. Certain things never change.
Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII in Canossa by Carlo Emanuelle