(November 18, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sparing no effort to postpone the elections, but what you want is not always necessarily what is good for you.
Netanyahu’s desire to push the elections as much as possible towards their due date, November 2019, stems from his desire to distance himself as much as possible from last week’s debacle in the Gaza Strip and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman’s subsequent resignation as defense minister.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said that there is no reason to bring down a right-wing government, but Habayit Hayehudi believes otherwise. The national-religious party believes that prolonging the inevitable will harm the right’s rule far more than artificially resuscitating the coalition. There is no way of knowing who is correct, making it difficult to understand why Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett are digging in their heels.
Meanwhile, the government is rapidly fraying at the seams. Lieberman has already pulled out and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who will soon present the government with a plan for massive cuts in the budgets of all ministries, said Saturday that to prevent early elections, Netanyahu would have to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Any trick that Netanyahu has will have be to an astounding one, as all signs indicate the snap elections train has left the station.
But the prime minister is holding his ground. Those who think that blaming the fall of a right-wing government on Likud’s coalition partners is part of the predictable, pre-election campaign blame game should think again.
Netanyahu really has no interest in holding early elections. When he meets with Kahlon on Sunday afternoon, he will spare no effort to prove to him that a 61-MK coalition can successfully forge ahead. It is doubtful that these efforts will prove successful because the one common interest that has held the coalition together until now—the desire to see this term through—no longer exists.
Mentally, Bennett, Kahlon and Shas leader Aryeh Deri have all accepted that snap elections are coming, and this united front may prove a challenge for Netanyahu.
Those looking to assign blame for the government’s impending end need look no further than Lieberman.
His adamant denials aside, Lieberman supported a ceasefire with Hamas, the transfer of Qatari aid funds to Gaza, and allowing the Hamas regime in the coastal enclave to stand—all before bolting. This will not prevent him from excoriating and trying to out-right Likud and Habayit Hayehudi during the election campaign, as he sets new records in hypocrisy.
Mati Tuchfeld writes for Israel Hayom.