Monday, December 19, 2005
Election Night in Israel as Israel struggles to Survive
Netanyahu has managed to prevail in the Likud primaries against two candidates who were nothing more than trojan horses for Sharon. First came Mofaz who spoke out against Sharon and when his numbers looked bad, scampered off right away to Sharon's party. Then came Shalom running on his wife's money, his wife's family being the owners of Yediot.
With Mofaz gone, Sharon's people who had remained behind in the Likud turned over the grassroots operations and activists to Silvan Shalom. Sharon's indicted son's top operative worked tirelessly on Shalom's behalf. Polls showed Shalom pulling in high numbers, the polls of course were as reliable as Maariv itself, since Gallup had been pushed out of Israel and the polling handled by local operators. Shalom meanwhile had gotten to know many in the Likud personally. To quote from the Jerusalem Post.
"wheeler-dealers on city councils, branch chairmen with nicotine-stained teeth, Egged union leaders - he has nurtured hundreds of these, knows their first-names and wives, and before every holiday and new year, summons them to a lavish get-together. On the primaries trail, they were all out in force."
These were the odds Netanyahu had to overcome to win. The left wing media, the organization Sharon and Shalom had formed within the Likud and one of the most powerfull families in Israel. Netanyahu's actual margin of victory proved the poll numbers to be completely fradulent and raises further questions about Sharon and Peretz's supposed leads. Yet the battle has only begun.
Sharon's plan was to bring either Mofaz or Shalom to power and use him as a puppet to control the Likud and thus have two parties in his pocket, his new party and the Likud. Feiglin was supposed to leech enough votes away from Netanyahu to let one of them win. Now that this ploy has failed, Sharon's essential plan goes forwards positioning himself as a moderate in contrast to the right wing Likud and left wing Labor. He also hopes that many disappointed Shalom supporters upset by Netanyahu's economic reforms will migrate to his party.
Yet tonight is a good night. In contrast to the predictions, Netanyahu proved the polls wrong which suggests the polls show that his finishing third may be just as much hot air. Sharon has had a setback and Labor is becoming openly an Arab party. The election remains Netanyahu's to win or lose.