A few years ago, Education Minister Livnat stood on the
speaker's podium at the Likud Center (the central committee
that governs many of the affairs of the Likud including the
selection of the Knesset lists) and asked a rhetorical
question: "Are jobs what you want?" "Yes," the members
answered in unison. Indeed the Likud Center is known for its
love of job handouts. Many Center members made extraordinary
efforts to gain membership solely for the jobs and other
benefits readily available to members.
Once upon a time, in the early days of the Likud Party—
certainly in the Cherut Party under Menachem Begin, but in
the Shamir era as well—the Likud Center was primarily
an ideological group. The people who served there wanted to
have an impact on national politics and were infused with a
deep- seated Eretz Yisroel ideology. Today whoever hands out
the most jobs gets the most support, regardless of his
A veteran Likud Center member who heads a group of a few
dozen members told me in no uncertain terms that 80 percent
of the Likud Center elections to form the list for the next
Knesset will be personal issues while 20 percent will be
whether a candidate supported or opposed the Disengagement.
In other words even if you voted in favor of the
Disengagement, if you handed out good jobs or benefits or
came to the simchoh of a certain Likud Center member
and honored him in front of his guests — you're in good
shape. "And forget about the polls," my inside source
revealed. "That's all nonsense. Center members play around
with the pollsters. We get a kick out of it."
The high-ranking Likud figure says that when an important
question on national policy comes before the Likud Center,
such as whether to support the founding of a Palestinian
state, whether to support the evacuation of settlements or
whether to form a government with left-wing parties such as
Labor or Shinui, obviously the majority of members will
assume right-wing positions in favor of Eretz Yisroel. But if
there is a conflict between ideology or jobology, the latter
generally takes precedence.
Prime Minister Sharon is well aware of this situation.
Therefore his son Omri's primary task for the past few years
has been to secure jobs and benefits for Center members and
their relatives and friends.
In less than a week, the Likud Center will meet to decide
whether to advance the party primaries — as Netanyahu
and Landau, the challengers, would prefer — or to hold
them ten months from now, as Sharon would prefer. It seemed
like the vote would be against Sharon's wishes, but the Prime
Minister realized that if he could turn the issue into a
question of loss of jobs and control, he would have a chance
of winning. Therefore his line of reasoning holds, "If you
advance the primaries you will cause the Likud to fall from
power, meaning fewer jobs."
Netanyahu picked up on the new rules of the game very
quickly, and his supporters hurried to make clear that all
Netanyahu wants is to replace Sharon as Likud chairman
— without advancing Knesset elections.
Personal interest is of greater importance to the Likud
Center members than all of Gush Katif, Judea and Samaria put
together and in the end this is what will decide the
political apparatus in the State of Israel, perhaps even for
many years to come.
Barak for President
Next year, according to the Gregorian calendar, High Court
President Judge Aharon Barak will turn 70, meaning he will be
required by law to resign from the Court. A short time later,
during the course of 2007, President Moshe Katzav is
scheduled to end his term in office as well, since the law
states that a president cannot serve more than one seven-year
Many people have their eyes set on the job of president,
starting with Shimon Peres (who already tried once), if he is
not elected prime minister, followed by Binyamin Ben Eliezer,
Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin and David Levy.
Recently the name Aharon Barak has started to be tossed
around by Left-wing figures, but considering the way the
Likud has been run over the past year in the end they, too,
could wind up adopting the Left's candidate.
The religious and chareidi public should be very wary of such
a possibility. The religious political establishment is
already counting down the days until Barak steps down from
the bench. Not that his replacement will be any better in
terms of his worldview and approach, but the damage Barak has
done on religious and Jewish issues in recent years would be
hard to equal.
The last thing we need is for Barak to take up residence at
the President's House on Jerusalem's Jabotinsky Street. From
there he would invariably try to continue to influence life
in Israel and to finish what he started on the High Court.
The presidency has a major impact on the country's values,
which is why the anti-religious left would like to get Barak
into office and why religious and right-wing MKs must do
their utmost to prevent this from taking place.