Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don't challenge Bibi to a game of chess

I think that the whole country woke up this morning to the surprising news that after 70 days in the coalition, Mofaz has had enough.

When Mofaz joined the coalition I though that it was a great life saver for him; the only thing that could stop Mofaz was if he was unable to implement a new draft law.

I though that passing a draft law would have been the easiest undertaking of any politician ever, given the support of the three biggest parties, the supreme court, and a large percentage of the population.

To make it even easier, the irrational opposition from the Chredi leadership (e.g., claims that it was based on antisemitism, or that there was an unprecedented attempt to eradicate Torah from Israel) meant that their objections had lost all creibility.
 But always able to grab defeat from the hands of victory, Mofaz decided to go for an "all or nothing" approach to the negotiations (negotiations with supports of universal draft, not with opponents), and as most negotiators know, if you adopt an "all or nothing" approach, you probably won't get "all".

Now the ball is in Bibi's court, if he was really smart, he should sit down quietly with Liberman and over the next 2 days hammer out the details of a draft law. Think where that would leave him:
  • Mofaz and Kadima would be history - 70 days of negotiations and committees and headlines to create a universal draft bill couldn't achieve as much as 2 days of quiet backroom talks.
  • Bibi would get the support of the majority of Israelis who favour a universal draft.
  • The Charedi politicians would reluctantly accept the new law, which at least saved them from  Plassner, which would have been worse
  • Yair Lapid would have the wind taken out of his sails as he was a one-issue party and the one issue would have been taken off the national agenda
  • There would be opposition to Bibi's new law from both Charedi and anti-Charedi politicians (no matter what the details of the law), which would prove that Bibi hadn't given in to extremist demands on either side. 
  • While the headlines are dominated by the new Bibi-Liberman bill, and the whole country is distracted (especially if there are colourful demonstrations in Kikar Shabbat and Kikar Rabin),  Bibi could quietly implement whatever economic and security measures he thinks necessary, and no one would even notice.
Bibi - the ball is in your court.


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

The only new "draft law" the Chareidim will accept is one that says that they are all exempt in perpetuity and that the Supreme Court has no authority to strike such a law down. Anything less will be a "full assault on Torah" and a rebirth of "the Czar's attempts to wipe out Judaism".
Bibi is smart but for a different reason. Right now he could have pushed through the proper draft law with the support of the other secular parties but think about it. Eventually there will be an election. Chances are once again Likud and either Labour or Kadima will finish closely in seat tally. And who will make the government? The Chareidi parties. Again.
Bibi doesn't need the Chareidim now but he just might in a year or two and he knows it.

Michael Sedley said...

Not sure if you're right Garnel. If the three big parties had jointly passed a bill, the Charedim would have been upset with all three, but would still be forced to join with one of them after the next election.

The logical partner for Shas would still be Likud, and the only alternative would be for them to form a partnership with Kadima/Labour who would be equally responsible for the draft bill, or to stay out of the coalition.