Aaron Magid writes: The recent Likud primaries in Israel highlighted the rightward shift in the ruling party. Three prominent Knesset members representing the more liberal wing of the party were pushed off the Knesset list in 2013. This was a consequence of their respect for Supreme Court decisions and democratic norms.
“Human rights and democracy is not part of their thinking. It is like South Africa. It is not Likud.” Comparing Likud hard-liners to South African apartheid supporters is common among leftist critics of Israel, but the man who said this to me is no anti-Zionist. He is Dan Meridor, who was a senior Likud minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government less than a year ago.
Meridor’s bluntness may be surprising. But his political downfall at the hands of right-wing voters in the Likud primary exemplified the trend within the party, which goes beyond domestic politics. With Netanyahu engaged in negotiations with the Palestinians, his party’s move to the right threatens the viability of any potential deal.
Meridor served in the Knesset for 23 years, including as deputy prime minister and intelligence minister. Until this year, he sat in the Security Cabinet and participated in Israel’s most sensitive discussions. Meridor spoke about the Knesset bills designed to curtail democratic norms, such as requiring Arab citizens to take a loyalty oath to Israel. He and his two like-minded peers, Michael Eitan and Benny Begin, fought to prevent these Likud-led bills from passing. Meridor warned that the law passed to detain African migrants to Israel for up to three years without a trial was illegal, but his party, including Netanyahu, ignored the recommendation.
Meridor explained: “Democracy became a leftist word. This is so strange and dangerous.” His support for democracy and a Palestinian state led to his departure from Likud. [Continue reading…]