Following the victory of Benyamin Netanyahu as the new leader of the Likud, the question remains as how Netanyahu will cope with the policies of his major party rival: Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
FM Shalom has nurtured a policy that is based on the unilateral creation of a PLO state, following the initiative of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Under the direction of FM Shalom, the Israel Foreign Ministry has formed an unprecedented working task force to pioneer a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, while Gideon Meir, the deputy bureau chief of “hasbara” for the Silvan Shalom’s foreign ministry, has been declaring that Israel’s settlement policies in Judea and Samaria are “illegal”, taking the position of the nations that attack Israel for the intrinsic decision to allow Jews to settle in “occupied territory”.
Last May, when Gideon Meir was challenged at a Bar Ilan University seminar by Bar Ilan University professor Mordecai Kedar to hear another opinion about the legality of Israeli Jewish settlement beyond the 1967 lines, he would not hear of it.
FM Sylvan Shalom has ignored numerous letters that question the appropriateness of Meir’s statements in this regard, which indicates that Meir’s policy statement is the position taken by Shalom.
The question remains as to what Netanyahu will say and do about a foreign policy that stands diametrically opposed to the policies for which Netanyahu stands.
In other words, the quality of Benyamin Netanyahu’s leadership will be tested in the days to come.
Will he stand on principle against the positions taken by Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom or embrace Shalom’s policies?
Moreover, since the Yesha Council and MK Uzi Landau played a crucial role in Netanyahu’s decisive election victory, what will the Council say now about Netanyahu embracing the Shalom/Meir foreign policy which paves the way for further unilateral Israeli withdrawals in Judea and Samaria.
Time will tell.