maandag 16 januari 2012

De generatiestrijd binnen Likoed

Een interessante analyse van de Likoed en de generatiestrijd die daarbinnen woedt.
Zie voor een overzicht van de politieke partijen en verkiezingsuitslagen van de Knesset: Israël politiek

Inside the Likud's generational battle

By Amir Mizroch   


Legislation to bend the legal establishment to the will of politicians; legislation against left-wing NGO funding; laws mandating loyalty oaths, fines against boycotts, increasing the minimum fine against libel, enforcing noise pollution on mosque muezzins, and much, much more.

What's behind this 'Assault on Democracy,' this rush of legislation from the ruling coalition and its satellite parties? Why are young Likud legislators working overtime on changing the nature of the state? On the one hand we want our lawmakers to make laws, but on the other hand, many are alarmed at the rate of the laws being proposed, as well as their content.

The new generation of Likud leaders: MKs Levin, Elkin, Dannon, Regev, Akunis and Hotovely seem to have a never-ending bag of bills to table on the Knesset floor. These young MKs (most are in their late thirties and early forties) did not grow up under the Mapai [the precursor of the Labor party that founded the state] like the old generation of Likud's ranks, such as Benny Begin, Reuven Rivlin, and Dan Meridor, the so-called Princes of the Likud. The younger generation, apparently, has much less respect, reverence, and fear, for the old establishment institutions set up by the Labor Zionist movement, especially the judicial system and the Israel Broadcasting Authority, both of which the Likud are trying to remake in their own image.

In the absence of the Likud's traditional political rival – a vibrant Labor party – as well as a lackluster and tepid Kadima, the Likud's children are running riot. That, together with ideological fellow travelers in other coalition members, and the Likud is a virtual hotbed of radical legislation.

The new Likud guard is more assertive and aggressive than their older colleagues. They are less concerned with nuance, compromise and dialogue. They are more right wing, and more brazen in their methods to attain their goals. They're quick to legislate, and they have no compunction against changing the laws of the land and moving the goalposts to suit their political needs. They see themselves as the vanguard of the right, as the Knights of Greater Israel. When their bills are shot down, they reformulate them and try again.

The old guard sees itself as being led by the young, and is increasingly having to put the breaks on the legislative proposals of the likes of Levin, Dannon, Hotovely and Regev.

As Rivlin himself recently said: "The Likud princes are isolated in their homes. When a Likud prince goes out to defend freedom of expression, he is seen as detached from reality." Meridor, another Prince, says the Likud is not the same Likud.

The trouble for the likes of Rivlin and Meridor is that they are in the minority, and the center of the party is moving toward the right. In between the Princes and Knights – in age as well as politics-stand heavyweights Moshe Ya'alon, Silvan Shalom and Limor Livnat, older than the young guard and still making serious strides on the party's right flank. Education Minister Gideon Saar and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, men busier doing their jobs than laying down new ideological infrastructure, see themselves as free agents, but their ideological positions are closer to those of the old guard. Both also see themselves as potential Likud leaders and will weigh their political moves accordingly. Minister in charge of improvement of government services Michael Eitan is squarely in the Prince's camp but has little political clout to speak of. Propaganda Minister Yuli Edelstein is actually to the right of MKs like Levin and Akunis (the latter famously said that "McCarthy was 100% right").

So what we have here within the ruling Likud party is a generational clash between the Princes and the Knights and everyone in between, with the young blazing a trail and garnering significant allies in Yaalon, and Environment Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. Furthermore, Yaalon is not happy with Netanyahu for considering the option of securing a spot in the Likud list for Ehud Barak so that the latter can stay defense minister (Barak's Independence party is not expected to cross the electoral threshold in the next elections.) Yaalon thinks it is way past time he was appointed defense minister, not only because of the great threat from Iran, but also because of Barak's hardline stance against the settlement enterprise.

The old Princes [some of whom are the sons of leaders of the Herut movement] are now seriously uncomfortable with the flood of perceived anti-democratic legislation sprouting up from the young leadership, and the itinerant anti-democratic image Israel has rapidly sunk into in the West's perception. The Princes are also more dovish than their younger counterparts, the latter being closer to the settlement movement and national religious factions.

So where is all this going?

By legislating hard and fast, the young guard may have overplayed its hand, as the internal (and international) backlash against the slew of their laws is undoubtedly mobilizing political opposition. Labor, back from the dead under the leadership of Shelly Yechimovich, is polling higher than Kadima. Labor seems to have capitalized on this past summer's economic protest; Kadima has not. The committee set up by PM Netanyahu to address the protest movement (the Trajtenberg Committee) has barely scratched the surface of the reforms a great many Israelis demanded this past year (Trajtenberg himself has started criticizing the government about the implementation of his committee's recommendations). The 'people' will remind the Likud of this at the next election. Other threats to Netanyahu's coalition could come from the entrance of new actors to the political field (Aryeh Deri and Yair Lapid), and an expected global economic downturn in the coming year.

Cognizant of all this, and acutely aware of the warnings of the Princes (and international figures like Hillary Clinton) Netanyahu is seeking to slow down the legislative train and rein in some of the young MKs. Slow down, but not stop. The prime minister sees himself as a conservative reformer with a keen eye for history. Reform yes. Slow and sure. Not rushing into the fray headlong. He's finding himself increasingly having to put the breaks on the more ambitious legislative proposals, the latest being by his justice minister Yaakov Neeman, who, although not a young Likud MK, owes his loyalty to firebrand foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

With Silvan Shalom and Moshe Ya'alon having taken hard right turns, the Princes are isolated and increasingly on the defensive. Shalom, the proverbial contender to the Likud throne, has consistently been outmaneuvered by Netanyahu, as well as being frozen out of significant ministries. He'll do anything he can to hurt the prime minister.

While standing alone as the undisputed leader of the Likud, Netanyahu could find himself increasingly isolated at the head of a party dominated by right-leaning MKs and their heavyweight supporters, the latter who are increasingly frustrated with the PM.


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