A coalition crisis could mean elections in a matter of months. If Netanyahu wins, even a post-election indictment will not stop the slide into a darker future for Israel.
He wants them, he wants them not, he wants them, he wants them not. Over the last two weeks, the sport of Netanyahu psychoanalysis in the Israeli press over the possibility of snap elections has taken on a feverish tone.
He doesn’t want them because he loves holding onto power. Because he wants to prove that of all Israeli leaders he alone is capable of sitting out a term and proving himself King Bibi, the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history. Should he resolve the current coalition crisis — on the issue of drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF — in addition to being the only statesman who speaks American, or speaks Trump, or speaks AIPAC, he will also brand himself the only responsible adult at home.
On the other hand, he does want elections. Through the irritating fog of corruption investigations, he can’t keep his eyes off those tantalizing surveys. Most have Likud winning by a healthy margin of three to five seats over the second-ranked party, Yesh Atid. Until recently, none showed Likud going beyond the 30 seats it won in the 2015 elections – until a survey published by Israel Hayom last Friday. Never mind that Israel Hayom is to Bibi what Brietbart is to Trump. When a survey dangles 34 seats before your eyes, suddenly there’s a coalition crisis around every corner.
Why stop at Bibi? What about the coalition partners: do they want elections? What about the opposition? On Sunday, Naftali Bennett, head of the far-right Jewish Home party which is part of the governing coalition, took a stiff line against Netanyahu, working all the morning shows to tell the public that elections are a ruse, unnecessary for Israel and purely “personal” – just Netanayhu’s attempt to boost himself. Most surveys actually show Bennett’s party doing pretty well, going beyond the current eight seats. One even has him at 14. But perhaps Bennett doesn’t trust surveys – after all, he was running around 12 seats in most of them leading up to the 2015 elections, but ended up with just eight.
At the moment of writing, the question of early elections seems to rest in the hands of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who...Read More