Some op­po­si­tion!

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By LAHAV HARKOV

Pop quiz: Who gave the fol­low­ing ef­fu­sive speech about Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu?

“To­day, he de­serves a lot of credit. Who­ever says that [US Pres­i­dent Don­ald] Trump would have moved the em­bassy [to Jerusalem] any­way, sim­ply does not know how to give credit where it’s due. In my eyes, who­ever doesn’t know how to give credit loses the right to crit­i­cize. This would not have hap­pened with­out [Ne­tanyahu] work­ing on it, and I praise him for that.”

Is it a) Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan, b) En­ergy Min­is­ter Yu­val Steinitz, c) Bayit Ye­hudi leader Naf­tali Ben­nett – in a gen­er­ous mood – or d) none of the above?

If you guessed “d”, you’re right. As you may have guessed from the head­line,

this is – re­mark­ably – a speech from the op­po­si­tion. The sup­port­ive speaker was none other than Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid – the man who wants to re­place Ne­tanyahu as prime min­is­ter, no less.

Zion­ist Union chair­man Avi Gab­bay was less lav­ish in his praise, but then again, he didn’t have a chance to give a speech in the plenum about it, since he’s not a mem­ber of Knes­set.

“I’d like to con­grat­u­late US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. There is no dis­pute over mov­ing the Amer­i­can Em­bassy to Jerusalem,” Gab­bay pro­claimed at this week’s Zion­ist Union fac­tion meet­ing.

It seems like most of the op­po­si­tion is not feel­ing very op­po­si­tional this week.

Yes, Joint List MKs skipped out on the Knes­set for a cou­ple of days as part of the gen­eral strike by the Higher Fol­low-Up Com­mit­tee for Arab Cit­i­zens of Is­rael, and took part in demon­stra­tions. One clip that made the rounds on so­cial me­dia showed an ap­par­ently Jewish Is­raeli man shout­ing ob­scen­i­ties at MK Ha­neen Zoabi as she blocked traf­fic while hold­ing a sign con­demn­ing Is­raeli ac­tions in Gaza.

And, yes, the two Meretz MKs who were in­vited to the US Em­bassy open­ing in Jerusalem de­clined, be­cause they be­lieved the move from Tel Aviv would spark vi­o­lence and wouldn’t be con­ducive to mak­ing peace. And a day later, Meretz chair­woman Ta­mar Zand­berg vis­ited Sderot, re­leas­ing a state­ment that more or less said: “I told you so.”

But when we look at 35 of the op­po­si­tion’s 54 law­mak­ers, and the two par­ties whose lead­ers pur­port to be the al­ter­na­tive to Ne­tanyahu as prime min­is­ter, they haven’t re­ally had much to say.

Mean­while, Ne­tanyahu is leav­ing Lapid in his dust in the polls, Gab­bay be­ing left there even more so.

Those op­po­si­tion-party lead­ers’ po­lit­i­cal predica­ment is un­der­stand­able. Tak­ing their po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions into ac­count, they prob­a­bly do gen­uinely sup­port the em­bassy move, as polls show most Is­raelis do. And the same goes for sup­port­ing the IDF and its re­sponse to Ha­mas-backed ri­ot­ing on the Gaza border. And also for their ap­plaud­ing Ne­tanyahu for be­ing in­stru­men­tal in the US exit from the Iran deal – even though Lapid crit­i­cized the prime min­is­ter’s campaign against the deal only a week be­fore Trump nixed it.

They also don’t want to be ac­cused of not be­ing pa­tri­otic enough in a rally-around-the-flag pub­lic at­mos­phere, or to be called – God for­bid! – Left­ist. Many politi­cians out­side of Meretz – Lapid and Gab­bay among them – seem to think that the word “Left” is elec­toral kryp­tonite, and that they should avoid it at all costs.

Beyond con­grat­u­lat­ing Ne­tanyahu, Gab­bay and Lapid seem to have very lit­tle to con­trib­ute to the pub­lic dis­cus­sion of the dra­matic events of the last week and a half. They did pipe up to slam Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s on­go­ing slan­der of Is­rael and sup­port for Ha­mas, and Lapid re­it­er­ated his long-held po­si­tion that Is­rael has not done enough to re­spond.

Lapid also crit­i­cized Ne­tanyahu for strength­en­ing ties only with Repub­li­cans in the US, say­ing that if he be­comes prime min­is­ter, things will be dif­fer­ent.

Avoid­ing mak­ing some kind of unique state­ment is not go­ing to help ei­ther Lapid or Gab­bay make their mark and im­prove their sit­u­a­tion in the polls. But com­ing up with some­thing to say in the sweet spot be­tween out­right prais­ing the prime min­is­ter and crit­i­ciz­ing him – which they don’t want to do at this junc­ture – has proven to be a chal­lenge.

It al­most seems like they’ll just have to wait for Ne­tanyahu’s lucky streak to end. •

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.