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Michael Oren. photo by Rhonda Spivak


March 17, 2015



[Note: When this article was written exit polls showed Likud and Zionist Union virtually tied. but as results came in , it's clear that Netanyahu 's Likud has won about 30 seats to Zionist Union's 24, which means it almost certain Netanyahu will be Prime Minister, with Moshe Kahalon's Kulanu party joining him .However, the analysis below re Michael Oren is important-Oren is in favour of a unilateral withdrawal if need be. That cannot be squared with Netanyahu's statement the day of the election (designed to bring right wing voters in droves to vote fro him) that there will be no Palestinain state under his watch.]

With early Israeli election results coming in (based on exit polls) ,  in order to form a right wing national government (as opposed to a unity government with the Zionnist Union's  Herzog and Livni) Benjamin Netanyahu will in all likelihood  need to have Mosh Kahalan's new Kulanu party (which received 10 seats) in his coalition. If the most important thing for Moshe Kahalon is dealing with the economy , and becoming finance minister then presumably he will join Netanyahu. And if Kahalon will join with him, Netanyahu will be Israel's Prime Minister.End of story. (The Times of Israel is predicting that this will be the most likely scenario, since Kahalon would have a lot of influence in Netanyahu's narrower government, and could threaten to leave if his positions weren't adopted) 
 But, there's another possibility, which relates to the number 4 on Kulanu's list, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael  Oren. Oren has spoken publicly about the need to repair Israel's relationship with the  United States (he  called on Netanyahu to cancel his congress speech), and Oren has repeatedly in the last 14 months put forth a proposal of   a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if negotiations with the Palestinians fail to lead to a two state solution.  Oren has said that if the Palestinians are going to advance their unilateral effort to achieve statehood by applying to dozens of international organizations, targeting Israel's economy through sanctions, then Israel should consider Plan B: A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, thereby declaring its own borders. No one really knows if Kahalon completely agrees with Oren, but  if he does or could be convinced, then it's possible that Kahalon would refuse to sit with Netanyahu in a right wing coalition, and may instead say he will only sit in a national unity government with Netanyahu's Likud and Zionist Union's Herzog. If  Kahalon adopted this position, there would have to be a national unity government, as it is virtually impossible for either Herzog or Netanyahu to form a government without Kahalon's Kulanu Party. And moreover, President Rivlin, (who dislikes Netanyahu, which is why Netanyahu did his best to ensure Rivlin did not become President) has already said after the early election results, he will work towards a national unity government. So Rivlin himself might try to convince Kahalon of this.
In an important article written over a month ago by Evelyn Gordon , that most people probably didn't notice Gordon noted that although this issue was barely talked about (purposely , she says) , it may be that this election was about the issue of unilateral withdrawal. She wrote that  someone of Michael Oren's stature " – a former ambassador to Washington and acclaimed historian" is "unlikely to have joined any party [Kulanu], much less a brand-new, untested one, without assurance that his flagship policy [unilateral withdrawal]would be on the table."  I agree with Gordon.
Oren told the  Times of Israel that  if Palestinians take unilateral actions for statehood "Israelis would be ill advised to sit around and wait for the Palestinians to corner them. If we declare our borders, that creates a de-facto situation of two nation states recognized by the UN — we may not recognize one another, but they’re already recognized by the UN — that have a border dispute. And we would be one of dozens of pairs of countries in th
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.