Over the past two days, amid what seems like the inevitable break between the Likud and Kadima, all of the criticism and bitterness, from both sides, has been focused on one person: MK Yohanan Plesner of Kadima.
Senior Kadima Knesset members phoned party chairman Shaul Mofaz and begged him to replace Plesner. Anyone else will be able to reach an agreement, they told him. Appoint Dalia Itzik, Avi Dichter, Zeev Bielski, just not Plesner, they beseeched. Mofaz turned them all down.
On Thursday it was the Likud that came to the realization that it would be impossible to make progress with Plesner. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon, each on his own, spoke with Mofaz and implored him to appoint a new Kadima representative to the negotiations. He is sabotaging every attempt; he is fixated on his outline as if he was in love with it, they told him, and he isn't budging an inch. Mofaz still refused to replace him.
Both sides simultaneously suggested to Mofaz that he should look into Plesner's motives. He is working for former prime minister Ehud Olmert, they said. He doesn't want an agreement, he wants war.
Plesner is an honest and ethical person. He has never been associated with any inappropriate or unbecoming behavior. He is indeed close to Olmert, who brought him into Kadima and ensured his spot on the party's Knesset ticket, and the two still maintain close ties to this day. However, no one has been able to prove that the former prime minister is pulling the strings behind the man who almost dismantled the coalition and could still do so very soon.
Those in Kadima and the Likud who have fired criticism at Plesner are mistaken. Being compromising and flexible are not always good qualities. There is even something pleasant in the idea that there are politicians who don't only act out of cynicism, who aren't busy hatching political plots and who aren't only interested in striking deals.
Plesner's problem is of a different nature. Sometimes people, especially those who end up in the Knesset, believe that only they are right, that they are in sole possession of the entire truth. It seems that Plesner honestly believes that only his way will result in the enlistment of the ultra-Orthodox. It's not just about being anti-Orthodox or anti-religious, as people have written about him over the past few days; it's simply a matter of hubris.