Thursday, December 06, 2012

Likud Shifts Right

Gershom Gorenberg writes about a topic that's flown under the radar around events in Gaza and Egypt, Israel's ruling party's shift to the right:
So about Feiglin. He's the founder and head of the Jewish Leadership movement. The group's website features a video of Feiglin explaining why Israel must build the Third Temple where the Dome of the Rock now stands. Jewish Leadership's platform calls for Israeli annexation of the West Bank and "encouraging" Palestinians to emigrate. After a failed run for the Knesset in 1999, Feiglin joined the Likud and signed up thousands of followers as party members. The Likud's slate of Knesset candidates is chosen in primaries where only dues-paying members can vote, and Feiglin's regimented bloc has an outsized, extortionate influence.
This matters more because of the way national elections work: Voters cast a single ballot for a party. If a party wins 10 percent of the vote, the first 12 candidates on its slate enter the 120-member parliament. To vote for Netanyahu, one must actually vote for entire Likud slate.
Last week, the Likud held its primary. For the first time, Feiglin placed high enough on the slate that he's certain to become a Knesset member. His influence, and what appears to be a wider shift in the party, pushed other zealots of the right to the top of the slate. From there, by unwritten political rules, some can expect cabinet appointments, while others chair parliamentary committees.
Netanyahu has previously worked to marginalize Feiglin and his followers, but with the steady rightward drift in Israel's politics, he's been forced to accept the opening of those floodgates, just as he's chosen to run on a joint list with Avigdor Lieberman's softly Fascist Yisrael Beiteinu party.  It's telling of the layout of Israeli politics in general right now that a prospective "left bloc" would be led by a former Likud member, either Tzipi Livni or Ehud Olmert.



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