After the fourth election in two years and the increasingly likely departure of Benjamin Netanyahu as the country’s prime minister, the situation in Israel is becoming increasingly volatile and Netanyahu himself is pouring fuel back into the fire.
Netanyahu faces nothing less than the loss of power on Sunday after twelve years in office, but is not inclined to accept the latest development of a variety of opponents joining hands against him.
Instead, it is massively pressuring members of the Knesset not to vote for a new government by mobilizing its supporters, who have gathered in front of lawmakers ’houses for demonstrations and intimidation efforts.
The next few days will show whether the Netanyahu era is over. From the planned government alliance with the appointed prime minister Naftali Bennett it has only a meager majority of 61 of the 120 seats in parliament, it counts every day.
The efforts of Netanyahu and his Likud party to find deserters among coalition forces is the latest example of “King Bibi” and his quest for power.
Ironically, it was Netanyahu who made the next government possible in passing a new law and ending the tradition of not entering into talks with Arab parties, said Donna Robinson Divine, a professor of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College.
“Netanyahu paved the way for an alternate government about to seize power. He introduced a basic law that allowed alternative prime ministers; he began to talk to Mansour Abbas on supporting his own coalition, “he told Al Jazeera.
Machiavellian power plays
It has become a recurring theme in Israeli politics. For years, Netanyahu used all sorts of political deceptions and played Machiavellian power to remain the country’s prime minister. However, Israel has paid dearly for it. Politically, Israel has been paralyzed. Even the most basic government responsibilities have been suspended, Divine said.
“Netanyahu has found ways to impose four elections in two years on Israel, and the country must operate without a budget for the last two,” he noted.
Socially, the country is deeply divided, essentially in pro and anti-Netanyahu camps.
The head of Israel’s national security agency, Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, warned of political violence and called on all those involved to verbally disarm.
Without naming names, Argaman’s statements were addressed primarily to Netanyahu and Likud. The latter has openly insulted right-wing members of the Knesset of the future coalition as traitors.
Although Netanyahu himself said he condemned any call for violence, he is fully aware of its words and its effects.
“Netanyahu is an extremely brilliant and well-read politician and a master of Israeli political tactics,” Divine said.
Thus, his words were chosen deliberately. Netanyahu spoke of “the largest electoral fraud in the history of the stateAnd even the “biggest fraud in the history of democracy.” Bennett’s decision to enter into a coalition with the left and the Arabs was the reason why people felt cheated and went reacting accordingly, pontificate Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s rhetoric resembles former U.S. President Donald Trump, and his post-election statements, particularly on Jan. 6, are that provoked rare political violence in this country.
“Israel is at risk” campaign
Asked if Netanyahu’s election fraud statements are similar to Trump’s playbook, Uriel Abulof, a visiting associate professor at Cornell University, told Al Jazeera, “To some extent: Netanyahu was not suggesting that he be manipulated, but Bennett was deceiving his voters. However, Bennett did not, as he clearly indicated that he would like Netanyahu to be eliminated. “
In fact, Bennett stated that she did not want to work with him main partner of the coalition, Yair Lapid or Arab festivals. However, it looks like the devil is in the details, Abulof said.
“Many refer to Bennett’s signing of a document in which he promised not to sit with Lapid and the Arab party, but they forget that the document was entitled ‘treaty’ and Bennett invited Netanyahu to sign it. Netanyahu did not. he did it, so it’s supposed to be null and void. “
However, as Abulof also pointed out, Bennett did not resort to this justification. So you might feel that you actually void your promise.
The additional fuel was added thanks to the support of an influential group of national-religious and ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who adopted a similar tone by stating that “everything had to be done” to prevent the new government from being invested.
In addition, the situation has been further aggravated by reports that the new government would try to pass a law banning Netanyahu from office.
While Bennett’s Yamina party is to state that this was only a proposal and the denial of this law reached the final version of the agreement between the coalition, the rumor itself has already taken effect and could be to Netanyahu’s benefit, said Maayan Geva, a professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Roehampton.
“The reports have been widely circulated by Netanyahu himself and the media supporting him, so they are being used as part of Netanyahu’s ‘Israel is at Risk’ campaign,” Geva told Al Jazeera.
While Geva acknowledged that such a law could eventually be passed, it is not without obstacles.
“Netanyahu is certainly the source of many problems for competing politicians, and if they are in a position to pass a law that will help them solve Netanyahu’s problem, they may be prosecuted. It is worth noting that, even if the law is written and approved by the Knesset, it is very likely that it will be challenged in the High Court of Justice.
“Israel is not a monarchy”
Meanwhile, Bennett spoke of a “violent machine” that was deliberately set in motion. Then, addressing Netanyahu directly, he said, “Let it go and let Israel move forward.”
Regarding Likud’s claims, the new government would be on the left, he replied that the coalition was “10 degrees further to the right” than the current one and Israel was allowed to choose a government that would not preside over Netanyahu.
For Bennett, it will be about endurance and focus over the next few days.
“There will be many cries about the transition of government, but Naftali Bennett is right: Israel is not a monarchy,” Divine said.
However, the damage has been done. Netanyahu seems seemingly inclined to endanger Israel’s democracy because of the poor opportunity to somehow stay in power, primarily for personal reasons, Divine said.
“His determination to continue in office as a way to avoid prison if convicted on charges against him, state institutions have committed themselves. “
Yet, according to Geva, the implications of Netanyahu’s selfish modus operandi are vast and dangerous.
“We are witnessing a desperate politician who has been in power for a long time and is afraid of what will happen if he is no longer prime minister. Netanyahu has a solid support base and there may be some violence in response to his claims. Possibly part of this violence will be directed at members of the planned government, in particular members of right-wing parties that Netanyahu represents as traitors.
“Act on the accusations”?
Netanyahu, of all people, should be aware of how quickly circumstances can heat up. In 1995, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing defender.
Similar to today, Netanyahu played a role and seems to have not learned. While a leader of the opposition, he was the keynote speaker in two demonstrations that included chants such as “Death to Rabin” and generally participated in the anti-Rabin movement. He has denied the allegations.
“Netanyahu is once again playing an important role in fueling the dangerous idea that the country is under an existential threat in an attempt to rally its supporters,” Geva said.
“Therefore, it is easy to compare the present with 1995 based on the concern that people will act on the accusations of Netanyahu and his supporters and use violence to ‘save the country.'”
So how is the worst case? “A civil war if violence breaks out,” Abulof said. However, the chances of this are currently minimal, he acknowledged.
“If Bennett vows an oath, the state is likely to force Netanyahu to step down, however dishonorable he may be,” he said.
In essence, the current situation is another test if Israel becomes a failed state, Abulof concluded.