The vaunted Qalqilya plan which would have seen a doubling of the size of the Palestinian controlled city of Qalqilya just 10 miles from Tel Aviv appears to be permanently frozen by the security cabinet yesterday. This was Liberman’s plan. It originated with him and he pushed it, but it ran into a solid brick wall when Bibi Netanyahu decided to freeze when he saw he did not have enough votes to pass it or the story goes.
Liberman vs. Bibi vs. Bennett
The jockeying on the right over the Qalqilya plan began a few weeks ago, Liberman’s move was published with the seeming approval of the Prime Minister. Then it was released that the Prime Minister had no knowledge of the plan. At first this seemed crazy. How could Prime Minister Netanyahu not know of something of this magnitude, but then it was found out that the Civil Administration itself under the guidance of Defense Minister Liberman okayed the plan before it was brought to Netanyahu tossing a hot potato into the government.
It was at that point that the right flank of the Likud led by Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin along with Naftali Bennett of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) demanded the plan frozen.
Whether or not Bibi Netanyahu planned this, the results are clear. Liberman has become discredited on the right and Bibi has been able by shelving the plan show the base that he is still with them. This enables the Prime Minister to hold onto the righ tof the Likud, which if the plan went forward he would have lost to Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. He is most certainly still bleeding seats to them, but the damage is contained for now.
What’s Next for Judea and Samaria
Yesterday I wrote on the connection between Mohammed Dahlan and Liberman’s drive to build in Qalqilya. As much as there is a need for some sort of organizing strategy in Judea and Samaria, its lack of a concrete plan does not take away from the maneuvers by the UAE and Egypt from effectively sending Gaza on its own trajectory through the imposition of Dahlan onto Hamas. This, like I wrote yesterday is akin to declaring Palestine in Gaza only. It may not be what those of us on the right want, but it appears to be the Sunni axis strategy to resolving the conflict in the near term.
Afterall, everyone from Saudi Arabia to Egypt know and admit behind the scenes that they need Israel far more than the PA. Without Gaza connected to negotiations, the solution in Judea and Samaria is some sort of application of Israeli sovereignty. There are many options out there such as the Bennett Plan, or the One State Solution Plan offered by Caroline Glick.
Liberman appears to be playing both sides. On one hand trying to show the Americans he is amicable to a deal, while passing that deal off to the cabinet as some sort of need by Israel to take care of the locals within the PA.
Bennett is Pulling the Prime Minister to his Position
The uproar over the Qalqilya plan shows just how strong the Center-Right really is. This is far more than just Knesset seats. The Prime Minister acknowledges that there is no real appetite for a handing more of Israel to the Palestinian Authority. He needs to hold the appearence that he is not battling with Bennett and the Likud over these issues or he will risk splintering his coalition before its time.
According to reports, Bibi has agreed to open a discussion on land usage in Area C (the area Israel has under its full control within Judea and Samaria). This discussion is the first of its type and will begin the deeper evaluation of how to ensure that it is Israel who ends up the sovereign within Area C if not all of Judea and Samaria.