Netanyahu Reaches his Saigon Moment
On March 20, the time allotted by Israeli law to Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government will expire. On the same day, President Obama will arrive in Israel, probably without Pollard. The long awaited presidential visit is unlikely to happen if the first event fails; yet, Netanyahu has even stronger reasons for successfully finishing the creation of his next coalition. If he fails, his political career is over.
Two weeks before the moment of truth, Netanyahu has reached his Saigon Moment; he probably has already realized that something went utterly wrong in the last elections. Whatever the outcome, he is about to fail. Right now, he has signed an agreement only with HaTnua, Kadima’s spin-off party led by Tzipi Livni. Netanyahu has 31 seats in the newly elected Knesset, Livni has 6. Together they are far from the 61 needed for a majority. On the verge of ending her political career, Livni came cheap. Netanyahu promised her the Ministry of Justice, a second-rate one in the Israeli political universe. After this was agreed, Netanyahu expected other coalitional candidates to join his new government swiftly. Yet, they outsmarted Netanyahu, who right now, is sweating profusely in the cold and windy Jerusalemite winter.
31 = 20 and 19 = 20
Pedantically exact as it is, the former paragraph is wrong. Out of the blue, Netanyahu found out that in Israeli political arithmetic, 31 equals 20. Before the elections, Netanyahu agreed to run in a joint list with Avigdor Lieberman, his Minister of Foreign Affairs. Likud – Yisrael Beiteinu as the list is called got 31 seats; only 20 belong to Likud. Until his trial is over, Lieberman cannot join the next government. “No Problemo!” said Netanyahu to Lieberman and promised to keep him the same ministry until Lieberman crossed the turbulent waters separating him from his promised land. This is done in a simple way. The day his new government is sworn, Netanyahu would be Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; the day Lieberman joins, he gets his favorite cookie. “Not so fast,” Israel’s General Attorney said. If he forbids the move, Lieberman will probably stay out. His party will leave its agreement with Likud, and Netanyahu will discover that he has only 20 seats. This is only 1 more than the second largest party, Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid. Not only 31=20, but when you need 61 seats, then 20=19. In that scenario, Netanyahu equals Lapid.
19 + 12 + 2 = 61!
While Netanyahu was immersed in the highest mathematics he seems to comprehend, Lapid worked hard. One of the largest winners of the elections was Naftali Bennet, from The Jewish Home, a Zionist-Religious party. He won 12 seats. Together, Bennett and Lapid have the same seats as Netanyhau’s party. Allying, they would create a weak alliance of two factions, like Likud is now. Yet, as reported in Likud: “Hubris and Urine”, there was a tiny problem in the way to this brilliant move. Bennett is religious, while Lapid is wildly-wildly anti-religious. Yet, the two agreed to agree on everything except on religion, and presented a single front against Netanyahu. Not bad for a couple of rookies. Yet, that was only the beginning.
Did you know? 1+1=0.5
One of Netanyahu’s errors in recent weeks was to sign an agreement with Tzipi Livni. If he bothered reading this website, he would have learned how questionable this funky lady is. Even if he skipped the obligatory reading, he should have paid attention that the former leader of Kadima, Ariel’s Sharon party, had destroyed Kadima after she lost the leadership to Lieutenant General (ret.) Shaul Mofaz. She split Kadima, and the party crashed from 28 to 2 seats. She is mistrusted, and General Mofaz has what in Hebrew is called “an open account” with her. Accordingly, after Netanyahu foolishly signed with Livni, who is a former Mossad non-officer agent, Mofaz joined the Lapid-Bennet alliance. Lapid is good in arithmetic, 19+12+2=33. This is 2 seats more than Likud; thus 33=61, Lapid became the gatekeeper of the next government. He is the kingmaker and king-controller.
At this stage, Netanyahu discovered even stranger arithmetic operations. 15=0, 11=0, 7=0, his aides whispered him. The Lapid-Bennet-Mofaz alliance distortions reality in odd ways. Laws of physic were adapted to a new universe; mathematics was reshaped. The Labor party has 15 seats and could help Netanyahu. That would favor Labor, once the ruling party, which is now being slowly obliterated. Yet, its leader Shelly Yachimovich had declared before the elections that she would lead the Opposition and would refuse to join Netanyahu. Right now, she is busy with an inner corruption scandal and is unlikely to join the next government. The Sephardic Haredi party Shas (11 seats) and the Ashkenazi Haredi-Hasidic party United Torah Judaism (7 seats) were forced out of the next coalition by anti-religious Lapid. In sheer horror, Netanyahu found that his traditional partners had been temporarily rendered useless.
Foolishness to the Greeks
Empowered, the Lapid-Bennet-Mofaz alliance is spreading rumors through the Hebrew media that it won’t sign an agreement with Netanyahu, unless Tzipi Livni is left out, or at least her agreement is renegotiated. General Mofaz is radiantly beaming. “19 + 12 + 2 = 61!” said rookie Lapid to Netanyahu and sent him back to school.