• Home
  • keyboard_arrow_right Israel News
  • keyboard_arrow_right Is this the end of the road for Benjamin Netanyahu?

Israel News

Is this the end of the road for Benjamin Netanyahu?

CM 22/04/2021


Background
share close

 If, as American author Brad Thor once noted, “power perceived is power achieved,” then on Wednesday evening the nation witnessed what appeared to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s power ebbing away.

Why? Because on Wednesday evening the nation watched Netanyahu give a press conference in which he blasted Yamina head Naftali Bennett and seemed to be just clutching at straws; seemed to be losing his grip on power.
“Let the nation choose,” he urged, even though his inability to form a coalition time after time indicates that the nation did not choose him after four elections in the space of only two years.
Netanyahu’s attack on Bennett, his accusations that his political rival was motivated by little less than a lust for power, exposed a man who seems to have lost his own power to control events.
True, Netanyahu still has until May 4 to try to spin gold out of straw and form a coalition with the far-right Religious Zionist Party on one hand and the Islamist Ra’am Party on the other. But his performance – his attack on Bennett – showed that he understands that his chances of doing so this time are quickly fading.
Netanyahu has been unable to bend either Bennett or the Religious Zionist Party’s Bezalel Smotrich to his will, and as a result lashed out at Bennett. But in that lashing out he appeared weak and anxious, and the last thing someone engaged in negotiations wants to do is to appear weak or anxious.

Looking weak, appearing not to be in control of the situation, is unfamiliar turf for Netanyahu. One does not serve as prime minister for as long as he has – 12 years consecutively and 15 years overall – by projecting weakness.
Netanyahu’s opponents over the years have tried to portray him as someone who can’t take the heat and sweats under pressure. They were aided in this by photos of beads of sweat on his forehead at a press conference where he declared his candidacy against Ariel Sharon for the Likud’s chairmanship in August 2005. But those photos did not tell the whole story – as the sweat was the result of a malfunctioning air conditioner on a hot summer day – and the characterization of Netanyahu as one who wilts under pressure does not stand up to scrutiny.
Netanyahu did not buckle under international pressure to change his tactics on the Palestinian track. He did not buckle under former US president Barack Obama’s formidable pressure to back down on opposing the Iranian nuclear deal. And he has not buckled under the pressure of having to function for the last five years with a huge, dark, legal cloud hovering above his head.
On the contrary, despite all that pressure, Netanyahu generally projected an image of someone in control, supremely confident, unfazed, cool and collected.
Wednesday night serious cracks appeared in that persona.
What is ironic is that these cracks are being exposed not by ideological foes, but by personal ones.
Netanyahu underestimated when he said on numerous occasions during that press conference that the right wing won 65 Knesset seats in the last elections.
He was including in that count the Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yamina, the Religious Zionist Party and New Hope. He wasn’t including Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, whose seven seats would give this bloc 72 seats. It is hard to think of Liberman as anything but right-wing, despite his stridently anti-haredi positions and persona.
Had Netanyahu not alienated right-wing allies such as Bennett, New Hope’s Gideon Sa’ar, and Liberman, he would not be in his current predicament: a repeated inability to form a right-wing government, even though the nation – as evident from the parties for which it votes – is clearly tilting right.
But Netanyahu’s shabby treatment of his political rivals – his inability over the years to be magnanimous to them in victory – has left them battered, bruised and eager to exact revenge, even at the price of forming a unity government with parties from the Center and the Left, rather than a full-fledged right-wing one.
This has Netanyahu concerned. His frontal attack on Bennett was not aimed at changing Bennett’s mind. One rarely persuades someone by insulting him, and Netanyahu’s address was full of insults toward Bennett.
“His lust for power is astounding,” Netanyahu said of Bennett. “Sometimes I think about giving him a weekend in [the Prime Minister’s Residence on] Balfour [Street] so he can see what it is like.”
Rather, Netanyahu was trying to convince the other six MKs on Bennett’s list and his party’s backers to prevent Bennett from setting up a government with Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, one in which Lapid already said Bennett will serve first as rotating prime minister.
Netanyahu was correct when he said that it is personal issues, not ideological ones, preventing the formation of a right-wing government under his leadership. But the responsibility for making it personal rests heavily on his shoulders.
Bennett’s list of grievances with Netanyahu is long, from a falling out with Netanyahu’s wife when he served as the then-opposition head’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2008, to efforts on Netanyahu’s behalf – as testified to in court recently by former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua – to besmirch Bennett’s family in 2015; to denigrating remarks Netanyahu made as to why he appointed Bennett defense minister in 2019; to his keeping Bennett out of his most recent government last year and throwing him into the opposition.
And no shorter a list of grievances is held by Sa’ar, who ran against Netanyahu in the Likud primaries in 2020 and was handily defeated.
But Netanyahu failed to prove magnanimous in his primary victory over Sa’ar. Even though Sa’ar won the respectable fifth position on the Likud list, Netanyahu did not offer him a post in the inflated corona emergency government he formed with Blue and White’s Benny Gantz. Moreover, he didn’t even hand him a significant Knesset committee chairmanship, and this even though Sa’ar had served previous stints as interior and education minister.
Now Netanyahu is reaping the whirlwind.
The lasting image that will emerge from this dramatic political week is not that of Bennett at his press conference saying he will not back direct elections and – if Netanyahu fails to form a government – will strive to establish one with Lapid. Nor was it Netanyahu’s frustrated visage at his own press conference shortly thereafter.
Rather, the lasting image – the one that will be remembered years from now – was Sa’ar’s wink on Monday in the Knesset, sitting two rows behind Netanyahu, when the prime minister’s efforts to control the Knesset through the Knesset’s Arrangements Committee came to naught and Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am Party voted against.
While not clear to whom exactly Sa’ar was winking – some say it was Likud Finance Minister Israel Katz, others that it was Lapid who was just behind Katz – this schadenfreude wink said it all: “We got him.”
The wink might be premature. Israel’s quintessential politician – a man who has been dubbed in the past as a political Houdini – has lasted in power as long as he has because of an uncanny ability to wiggle out of seemingly hopeless political situations.
But while he is not yet down and out, and still may come up with a way to fend off leading the Likud into the opposition, Netanyahu is closer now to being ushered out of office than at any time over the last 12 years. His performance in front of the press and the nation on Wednesday night – his frustration and annoyance apparent to all – betrayed that he realizes this as well.

Source: Jerusalem Post

Rate it
Author

CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

list Archive

Background

Post comments

This post currently has no comments.

Leave a reply