Friday, December 02, 2005


The article below was published in September 2004:



Mr. Tsvi Kukenheim of Beitar Illit, Israel, approached the present writer with an elaborate plan called “Achdut Beit Yisrael”—which may be translated as the “United House of Israel.” Although I did not regard the plan as politically feasible, its logic prompted me to draft a one-page scenario which might be sent to a few nationalist Knesset Members as a preliminary to face-to-face meetings. Accordingly, appointments were made with two MKs known to be utterly opposed to uprooting Jews from Gaza. Their reaction to the Achdut Beit Yisrael plan could be informative; and even if we failed to elicit support for the plan, no one could accuse us for not trying. In any event, the following scenario was sent to our selected Knesset Members:

1. The historical record indicates that the formation of a joint party list tends to produce a number of Knesset seats exceeding the total of those previously won by the individual parties forming that list.

2. To form a joint list, the participating parties must have at least one issue which they regard as of paramount importance—enough to override their differences. That issue is and must be opposition to the Sharon Plan to uproot Jews from their homes in Gaza and, ultimately, from Judea and Samaria, to establish a Palestinian state.

3. A joint list—call it Achdut—consisting of Ichud Leumi, Shas, Mafdal, and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) would have 29 seats: Shas – 11; Ichud Leumi – 7; Mafdal – 6; UTJ – 5.

a. 29 seats far exceed the 19 won by Labor-Meimad in the 2003 elections.
b. Since Likud is split on the Sharon Plan, it will lose perhaps 7 or 8 seats in the next election. These seats will go to Achdut. Since Achdut will then have at least 36 seats, while Likud will have no more than 33, Achdut would be called upon to form the next government! This would constitute nothing less than a political but bloodless revolution, one that would save Israel.
c. If Achdut divides its 36 seats based on the 2003 percentages, the result will be:

Shas (38%) — 14 seats
Ichud Leumi (24%) — 9 seats
Mafdal (21%) — 7 seats
UTG (17%) — 6 seats

4. These proportions can be adjusted before future national elections by means of a primary election with all four parties competing.

5. Achdut’s coalition partner would obviously be the Likud. Achdut’s 36 seats plus an estimated 34 for Likud would yield a total of 70.

6. Problem: Who will be the prime minister? This depends on who is chosen as Achdut’s chairman.

a. If the chairmanship goes to Shas, this would make Achdut a non-starter. The question is whether Shas would forgo the chairmanship in view of the ministerial positions it would receive under an Achdut-led government? (Obviously each of the four parties will receive ministerial posts, which of course will have to be negotiated with Achdut’s coalition partner, the Likud.
b. We favor a religious prime minister, and for many reasons.

7. Other issues on which the four parties of Achdut can agree:

a. Legislation to reverse the declining Jewish majority of the state.
b. Enforcement of Basic Law: The Knesset, which prohibits any party that negates the Jewish character of the state.
c. Enforcement of the 1952 Citizenship Law which empowers the Interior Minister to revoke the citizenship of any Israel national that commits an act of disloyalty to the State. (The term “act” should be defined to protect freedom of speech and press.)
d. Amending the method of appointing Supreme Court judges.
e. Ending the fascist suppression of freedom of speech directed against religious and rightwing opponents of disengagement, meaning the uprooting of Jews from Jewish land.

8. The formation of Achdut is a tacit admission that it was a serious mistake for Ichud Leumi and Mafdal to join the Likud government, especially with Shinui, if only because the Likud and Shinui chairmen (respectively, Ariel Sharon and Tommy Lapid) favor a Palestinian state. This mistake must be publicly acknowledged. Therefore,

a. Each of the four parties of Achdut must publicly state that it will NOT join a Likud government.
b. The four parties must then proceed to work out the details of a joint list agreement. □

November 30, 2005 (14 agonizing months later):

The above plan was sent to Effie Eitam as well as to Benny Elon and Arieh Eldad. We spoke with the latter two, but without results.

Now the 25 Jewish communities of Gaza and northern Samaria are gone. Their loss has split the Likud, from which Sharon disengaged to form the Kadima party. Since Kadima explicitly advocates a Palestinian state, some may think the Achdut Beit Yisrael plan may now be viable, that it might unite on that crucial issue. I don’t think so. Disengagement has revealed that neither Shas nor UTJ has taken an unambiguous stand against a Palestinian state, or at least against abandonment of other parts of Eretz Yisrael. The same may be said of both Ichud Leumi (National Union) and the shrunken Likud.

Furthermore, neither Shas nor UTJ will unite with Mafdal, which abandoned them when it joined the Sharon government; and one can be morally certain that Shas and UTJ will not form a joint list with any secular party.

The reader will therefore understand why the present writer’s Yamin Israel party has merged with Hazit, the Jewish National Front, which takes a non-compromising position on Eretz Yisrael. However, if my assessment of Shas and UTJ is incorrect, then the Achdut Beit Yisrael plan, slightly modified, may be viable. In that case, the parties involved, animated by the spirit of Hazit, should be able to unite around the five issues enumerated in section 7 above.


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