Opinion: Although the ball to form a government is now in the ‘coalition for change’ court, the challenges facing those hoping to oust Netanyahu are great; though temporarily devoid of political powers, PM can still ignite fires
“We are torn,” a member of Knesset told me recently.
He said Israel’s right-wing was the distinct winner of the March 23 elections, with most Israelis casting their ballots for conservative parties. But, he said that on the other hand a right-wing government still could not be established because of personal animosities, and only Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame.
Netanyahu has many talents but none more than his talent for bad blood. He has managed over the years to alienate almost all of his ideological allies, many of whom irrevocably broke their political ties with him.
No one is less trusted in Israel’s political field and now he is being made to pay the price for his own conduct.
No one in the Likud party’s leadership was willing to criticize their leader publicly since their name was not on the ballot. But, many complained privately that Netanyahu will take them to the opposition.
Unlike previous occasions, this time Netanyahu had no last-minute rabbit to pull out of his hat before his mandate to form a government expired at midnight on Tuesday. The ball is now in the court of the so-called “coalition for change”.
The man who was seen as a political genius, made every possible mistake in his efforts to hold on to power. He not only picked fights with any possible ally, he also made the unprecedented possibility of Likud alliances with Arab parties, a viable option.
He also legitimized a potential government led by the leader of a small Knesset faction that won no more than seven seats, when he announced his willingness to step aside and allow Yamina leader Naftali Bennett to be prime minister first in a power sharing agreement.
Now his previous arguments about Bennett wanting to be “a chief of staff with seven seats” hold no water. And any similar statements about New Hope leader Gideon Saar or Blue & White chief Benny Gantz will hold no water as well.
Despite the mandate being out of Netanyahu’s hands, the race to form a government is far from over and the premier’s opponents are nowhere near achieving success. The Likud leader can still foil any plans to form a potential anti-Netanyahu coalition.
The challenges facing those hoping to oust Netanyahu are great and so is the possibility of some MKs from the opposition switching sides.
However, Netanyahu poisoned not only the political field, he brought divisiveness to Israel’s society as well. Violence has yet to break-out among ideological adversaries but the toxic fumes that could ignite it, are felt already.
Though temporarily devoid of political powers, Netanyahu can still ignite fires. Israel’s democracy has been able to withstand his hate-baiting until now but will have to work harder to protect itself from him, in the near future.
We can only pray democracy prevails.