Opinion: Even with the end of his tenure drawing near, the Likud leader is not relenting for a second, sending his messengers and sycophants to lash out at his opponents and continue nurturing the toxic discourse he has created
L-R: Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Gideon Saar attending a meeting of party leaders in the new coalition in Tel Aviv last week
(Photo: Raanan Cohen)
Despite all the obstacles, doubts, delegitimization, threats and insults, a new government will apparently be sworn in on Sunday, unseating Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 straight years in power.
Heading towards the exit, Netanyahu is leaving behind a substantial number of sycophants who genuinely believe that Israel and the entire Zionist enterprise are in danger of collapse without him.
During his term in office, Netanyahu used his tremendous political skill to achieve a great many accomplishments, but also to create a toxic atmosphere with an army of supporters who would blindly follow him regardless of “facts.”
It is pointless to try to debate these acolytes, for no one on the other side is listening. Either you are with them or you are a “leftist.”
Even now, as the new government put the final touches to its agreements, Netanyahu’s minions keep attacking the legitimacy of the coalition built by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett.
They claim Bennett – who will take the role of prime minister first in a power-sharing deal between the two – is unworthy because he leads a party with just six Knesset seats, conveniently ignoring the fact that their idol offered him a similar rotation deal.
And Bennett was not the only one to get such a proposal from Netanyahu. He made a similar offer to New Hope chair Gideon Saar that would have meant a tripartite rotation deal.
But what is permitted for Netanyahu is forbidden to his political opponents.
This rule also applies to the negotiations with the Islamist Ra’am party and its leader Mansour Abbas. Again, where Netanyahu goes, others may not tread.
And while he would never lower allow himself to actually join in the political muck raking, Netanyahu has enough lackeys to do it for him, easily allowing him plausible deniability as they tirelessly try to please him.
Indeed, Netanyahu’s worst crime is when he loses his composure and lashes out so viciously at his opponents that many members of the nascent coalition now require a personal security detail. And at no point does he try for even a moment to lower the flames.
The man who in the past said no prime minister should serve for more than two terms wants to keep going and going and going, refusing to even consider someone from his own party as a replacement, even temporarily.
Meanwhile, the silence from his fellow Likud lawmakers and ministers is deafening.
Rumblings of discontent within the party have started to bubble to the surface. Those who are still doubtful of the possibility of replacing him should wake wake up, for now is the time to act.
Israel existed before Benjamin Netanyahu’s rise to power and will continue to exist once he depart the political stage.
Limor Livnat is a former MK and minister for Likud