Once again, Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated the mastery with which he leads Israel’s domestic politics. Last week, when Avigdor Lieberman released him with a roar and went to the opposition with his five MPs, all are convinced that we are heading for early elections. The government coalition now has only 61 MPs out of 120 and many of its partners run into the stretchers.
Thus, Naftali Bennett, the number one of the Jewish Home, the party of the settlers, immediately demands the Ministry of Defense. “With me,” he said, “the army will return to the path of victory. Sunday, first interview with Netanyahu. On leaving, Bennett suggests that it is decided, the country goes to the elections. Surprise! An hour later, a statement from the Council Presidency announced: “Not at all. The Prime Minister does not want an early poll. ”
Another coalition partner, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, is also leaning for another vote. His meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu is very brief. Political commentators are heating up. Almost all bets call for rapid self-dissolution of the Knesset and elections in late March 2019.
8 pm Monday is the opening of the news. Netanyahu speaks. He recounts the fighting he carried out in the IDF uniform in the staff commando: he almost drowned in the Suez Canal, he was wounded. His brother, Jonathan Netanyahu, died as a hero in combat. As a minister and then as head of government, he has always been at the forefront of ensuring Israel’s security. “We are currently in a complex security period. So we can not bring down the government. It would be irresponsible. And to suggest that he can not reveal everything to the public. “But,” he said, “we will defeat the enemy. This will be at the cost of sacrifices. ”
Is Israel on the brink of war? Is there a threat that military experts know nothing about? The future will tell. As for the political journalists, they scratch the occiput: why Benjamin Netanyahu does not decide to go quickly to the polls, while he and his party, the Likud, prance in the polls? Instead, the head of government takes the risk of assuming the responsibility of defense himself.
This speech does not sound the end of the crisis. Naftali Bennett and his number two, Ayelet Shaked, announce that they will hold the next morning at 10 am a press conference. Will they resign from the government and therefore call an election? Yes, say most political observers.
Tuesday, 10 am: everyone is in front of his post. Bennett launches into a long diatribe, accusing the government of which he is part of “soft” against Hamas. With him in the defense, things would be different. The army would learn to win again. But, new surprise! He announces that he has heard the Prime Minister’s speech the day before and has therefore decided to stay in government hoping for a more serious security policy. This time, the crisis seems to be over.
Why such a turnaround? It will only be learned later: during the night, the presidency of the Council involved a close rabbi of Bennett. He persuaded him not to provoke the fall of the government.
Still, Benjamin Netanyahu is not out of the woods. His parliamentary majority hangs by a thread: it suffices for one or two deputies to fail him and he will not be able to adopt a new law. Under these conditions, the political class remains convinced that early elections are inevitable.