Netanyahu Breaks Leftwards
IDF Strikes "Oz Tzion" Outpost
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On Friday morning, West Bank commander Brig. Gen. Hagai Mordechai ordered the forceful evacuation of the outpost. The soldiers delivered to the place found about 200 settlers led by Kiryat Arba's rabbi Dov Lior and rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed, both close to Naftali Bennet, leader of the Jewish Home party. The soldiers were wildly outnumbered; the settlers refused even to negotiate with them. Rocks were thrown at the soldiers. Unable to solve the stalemate, a government minister ordered the retreat of the soldiers. They are expected to return after the end of the Sabbath with a larger contingent.
No less disgusting is Shmuel Eliyahu, rabbi of Safed; while being a civil servant, he issued a religious decree (parallel to Muslim fatwa) instructing residents not to rent rooms or houses to Israeli Arabs, in other words to Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Jewish denizens who dared to trespass the order were threatened (see Racist Rabbis).
Daniella Weiss became involved in the current event only as the founder of the outpost to be evacuated; yet, this is relevant. She is one of the most outspoken members of Gush Emunim ("Block of Believers"), the movement that began the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In the past, she said in an interview to Haaretz, "the only "Price Tag" action acceptable is the establishment of a new outpost in response to every outpost that had been demolished by Israeli authorities." Price Tag is the name adopted by a settler's organization that is violent towards Muslims and Christians. In other words, she declared the Israeli government "non-Jewish."
Netanyahu's Serpentine Qualities
The timing of the event is odd. Its target is weird. Why would Netanyahu order such an attack roughly three weeks before the elections. The evacuation could wait. As Israelis say in situations in which there is no rush, "What, did a war begin?" Then, among all the outposts awaiting to be evacuated or moved, Netanyahu chose one which is in a strategic point near Jerusalem and that is linked to prominent settlers and leading rabbis. Is Netanyahu attempting to lose the upcoming elections? The clue as to what is going on is in the abovementioned Naftali Bennet. His party, the Jewish Home, is getting stronger by the day, getting votes from Netanyahu's Likud. Netanyahu must stop the trend.
Delaying the evacuation should have been interpreted by the settlers as an acceptance of their policies by Netanyahu. Encouraged by their success, they would have voted en-masse for the Jewish Home and the National Union. Instead, Netanyahu opted for a head-to-head attack on Bennet, targeting his favorite projects. Unable to win additional settler votes, he still can portray himself as a powerful leader respectful of Israeli law (settlements and outposts are both illegal under international law; however, under Israeli law settlements are legal and outposts are illegal). Doing this, Netanyahu proved his serpentine qualities. By running in a joint list with Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu secured his position as leader of the main right-wing movement. Since then, a crack appeared in this alignment, mainly due to Mizrahi voters who don't like his alliance with the Russian immigrants. Netanyahu answer was a swift zig-zag leftwards. His strike on the outpost will be well seen by the Jewish center and left. Netanyahu's slow deterioration in polls may be stopped. Mr. Netanyahu, how do snakes say "cheers?"
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