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The More Desperate He Is, the More Dangerous He Will Become

The countdown toward Netanyahu’s last chance to form a government produces artificial excitement. These are dramatic days. Not because of the negotiations between the factions, but because of the cynical abuse of the elected institutions of Israeli democracy. The law sets a 28-day time frame for negotiating a coalition, but most of the time so far has been wasted. Experience shows that nothing significant will happen until the very last minute. In the political practice that has taken root in Israel, neither side will be in a hurry to sign a coalition agreement. Each of the potential partnerships is squinting at the parties with constant suspicion. Add to that the boycotts coming from every direction and the racist incitements against Arab members of Knesset. In many ways, Netanyahu is finally getting a taste of his own medicine. He knows well why Naftali Bennett formed the Yamina party and why Gideon Sa’ar left the Likud and formed New Hope. His expectedly banal attempt at flattery (“come back to the Likud, it’s your home”) will not suffice in bringing either one of them back into Bibi’s arms. Four weeks to negotiate a government is far beyond what is required. In the world of sports, “garbage time” refers to the period of time at the end of a competition, when the outcome of the game has already been determined and no one has time to change the result. In politics, garbage time comes at the beginning of the game: the parties take their time, sit on the fence, or climb high trees to improve their bargaining position. During normal times, the public may have been able to put up with these games. But in a chaotic political reality, following four election campaigns, a coronavirus pandemic, an economic crisis and a sensitive security situation, there’s really no time or patience for this arm-wrestling.  The political conduct taking place before our eyes is simply detached from reality. And just like in a prewritten script, the real show will begin in the eleventh hour. Netanyahu needs every voice he can get since his political fate is on the line. His “fortress” in Balfour could easily fall into the hands of his biggest opponents. Under such conditions, Netanyahu is ready to use any tool at his disposal, including unconventional ones, to save himself from going home. A difficult political reality gives rise to particularly bad solutions. Bibi and his cronies have already begun floating crazy ideas into the air, testing them like hot air balloons: changing Israel’s Basic Laws, installing Netanyahu as an omnipresent president, appointing one of his sycophants to the position of prime minister, and so on and so forth. No absurd idea is off the table. In recent days, Netanyahu has begun toying with the possibility of a direct election for prime minister, as if it were a trivial decision and as if four election campaigns did not properly answer the question of “yes Bibi” or “no Bibi.” We can’t stand idly by and simply hope for the best. Anyone who thinks Netanyahu will just give up the premiership simply doesn’t know Netanyahu. After exhausting all of his options to lead the next government, Netanyahu will turn to sabotaging the efforts of his rivals to do the same. The more desperate he is, the more dangerous Netanyahu will become. We must all come to our senses and be responsible adults who can put an end to this farce. – Orit Lavie-Nashiel (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)