The far-right rises in Israeli politics
The success of Moshe Feiglin in this week's Likud primaries heralds a stronger fundamentalist tilt within the already conservative party.
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"The illusion of a center-right party was shattered this morning, and it's clear that this is the most right-wing extremist list the Likud has produced since its establishment," said Haim Ramon, a Kadima Knesset member, in an interview with Army Radio. "Any sane person will understand that you can't vote for the Likud."Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Netanyahu and the rest of the Likud establishment are worried. Anti-Feiglin banners hung on the Jerusalem roadside read, "The left is praying for Feiglin."
"It might harm our chances to win the election because he and his group are very different from the Likud," said Yuval Steinitz, a Likud Knesset Member and Netanyahu loyalist before the primary. "Their positions are very much to the right of the Likud."
Amnon Shomron, a Feiglin spokesman, says Feiglin is a faithful supporter of the Likud's central political stance: opposition to a Palestinian state.
Feiglin first came to prominence during the negotiations with the Palestinians in the early 1990s as the leader of Zo Artzeinu, a movement that sponsored civil disobedience to protest returning land to the Palestinians.
The demonstrations won him at least one criminal conviction and an infamous antiestablishment reputation. Breaking with Orthodox compatriots who have promoted the settlement movement from smaller ideological political parties, Feiglin pursued a beachhead within the Likud.
Still, some political analysts say Feiglin's success won't necessarily imperil Likud's margin over Kadima. They argue that Feiglin's presence at the extreme right will have the opposite effect.
An expert on Jewish extremism argued that Feiglin is an ideological cousin of settler radicals who used violence against Palestinians and Israeli security forces last week. The only difference is that Feiglin wants to change the government from within, says Motti Inbari, author of the forthcoming book, "Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount."
"They believe this is the destiny of the state of Israel, to be a [theocratic] state, their mission is to go into politics," he says. "The same people who are throwing stones in Hebron, these are the same people from which Manhigut Yehudit was established."