3 June 2021
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
With just over an hour to go before last night's deadline, centrist politician Yair Lapid cobbled together a diverse group of Israeli politicians to form a government. With the backing of 61 members of the Knesset, out of a total of 120, the coalition will operate with the thinnest of majorities. Naftali Bennett, a former supporter of current Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, will serve as PM for two years to be succeeded by Mr. Lapid. Given the size of the coalition and its cacophony of political disagreements within, one would be surprised to see Mr. Lapid actually take over as leader. The only thing that really unites the coalition is their contempt for Mr. Netanyahu. That is enough for now.
The government-to-be has to win a vote of confidence in the Knesset, and that has yet to be scheduled. The Speaker of the body is Yariv Levin, a member of Mr. Netanyahu's Likud party. He has some flexibility as to when he sets the date and time, and one would expect him to wait until the last possible moment. The coalition has serious stresses within it, and Likud's best hope is that those stresses prevent the passage of the confidence vote. If that happens, Mr. Netanyahu will remain as PM in his continuing role as caretaker while the Israelis go to the polls for the fifth time in just over two years.
Mr. Netanyahu has featured in Israeli politics for decades. He has come to believe that he is the only one who can manage the nation's affairs and that any threat to him is a threat to Israel. Jonathan Rynhold, professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, told the Washington Post, "No one believes a word he says. Why would they? Part of it is personal with these people who know him. And part of it is that all of them have come to believe that Mr. Netanyahu has put his personal interests ahead of the interests of the State of Israel because he can no longer distinguish between the two. It's nothing to do with policy or ideology at this point. It's character."
Desperation is clearly the main feature of Mr. Netanyahu's mood today. He tweeted, "all legislators elected by votes from the right must oppose this dangerous left-wing government." This is a misrepresentation of the highest order. Mr. Bennett worked with Mr. Netanyahu in government for years; there is nothing left-wing about him. It is nice to see Labor, the party of David ben Gurion and Golda Meier, headed back into government, but the presence of Labor does not make the coalition left-wing. Having as a member an Islamic party like Raam does not make it an Islamic government.
Yifat Shasha-Biton, of the conservative New Hope Party, has said the PM "lies without blinking" and he was "setting Israel on the path to one-man rule." When one loses the respect of one's ideological allies, the game is over.
This journal expects that the corruption trials Mr. Netanyahu faces (he is accused of taking about $300,000 worth of bribes among other accusations) will make his life more and more uncomfortable over the summer. Witness testimony began back in April, and there will be no let up. One expects a conviction on more than one count, as well. What is significant is that as PM he was in a position to secure immunity for himself through passing a law putting the PM and cabinet officials above the law while they serve. As leader of the opposition should the coalition win its vote of confidence, he will not be able to do that.
Mr. Netanyahu has simply run out of people to disappoint.
© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.