Opinion: Senior party members stay silent as their leader attacks legal establishment that charged him with corruption, dissolves Knesset to prevent rival forming coalition and refuses to pass budget; how can any of them claim they can lead?
Flanked by Likud ministers and MKs, Benjamin Netanyahu attacks the judicial system at the start of his criminal trial in Jerusalem, May 2020
(Photo: Flash 90)
It is time for the senior members of the Likud party to do some soul searching.
They are both accomplices to and victims of the political chaos of the past two years and have no one to blame but themselves.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made them into docile sheep, obediently parroting his messages. He wiped out any remanence of their personalities, past political achievements and opinions.
In their weakness, they have accepted every one of his whims and refused to voice opposing views, making them foot soldiers in the service of a cult.
The leaders of the party include many with experience and success at the helm of major organizations, but none ever demanded substantive discussions within the Likud on critical matters and in which a range of opinions could be heard.
There has been no such conversation because Netanyahu does not regard any of them as relevant, nor has he shown any interest in their views.
If only they had a backbone among them, they could have prevented the political stalemate into which Israel has been plunged.
Yamina leader Naftali Bennet and former Likud MK Gideon Saar both appealed publicly to them to name anyone else among their number who could head the party and form a right-wing government that could carry out their preferred policies.
But they consistently opt for blind loyalty to Netanyahu, claiming the Likud does not oust its leaders. So the good of the party is more important than the good of the country? That wasn’t always the case.
I have often wondered how any one of them could lead a complex country such as Israel. They attack their political rivals, but have any of them displayed leadership in the past two years?
A statesman must lead. He or she must have a clear vision and opinion and the strength to stand by them. They have shown the opposite.
A leader must try to influence events and fix whatever needs fixing, but they watched as Netanyahu attacked Israel’s democratic institutions of democracy – and keep silent. None of you stood up to say that some red lines must not be crossed.
In fact, as the prime minister was first under investigation and ultimately charged for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, they assisted him in attacking the legal establishment that some of them help to create in the course of their careers, and which has served them for years.
Can it be that they are all in total agreement that the legal system is at fault?
When Netanyahu failed to form a government, they supported his decision to dissolve Knesset just so that no one else would be able to try. When he failed to allow a state budget to pass, solely for the purpose of destroying a coalition agreement he himself signed, they remained silent.
They accepted every twist and turn in his fight for political survival, democracy be damned.
They are nothing less than a bunch of cowards.
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin at a Likud election event
In the past, during his predecessor Ehud Olmert’s tenure, Netanyahu said that a prime minister under indictment could not continue to hold office.
He insisted there must be term limits for a prime minister and declared publicly that Israel’s Basic Laws cannot be changed on a whim and that any change must follow careful consideration.
Those statements and promises, were all violated by the prime minister, in order to cling onto power. While they continued to enable him at every turn.
How then can any of them presume to be the future leaders of Israel?