Baruch Leshem
Baruch Leshem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an interview on Ynet days before the March 23 elections

Netanyahu is facing painful payday from former political allies

Opinion: PM appears unable to form a right-wing government after a host of his former disgruntled political partners ran against him in the March 23 elections; he also can't count on unity government after shamelessly violating agreement with Gantz

Barch Leshem |
Published: 03.29.21 , 13:29
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a paranoid politician who's convinced that everyone is working to remove him from power. And he is right. Due to his position as prime minister, he has made enemies over the years as his opponents attempted to replace him.
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  • But more than that, Netanyahu, because of his personality, has made enemies of those who were his partners and allies. He crushed anyone who could have potentially replaced him as the head of the right-wing camp.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an interview on Ynet days before the March 23 elections
    (Photo: Hadar Yoavian)
    Last week's elections brought together all those disgruntled political forces suppressed by Netanyahu in the past, hoping to end his rule as the prime minister, longest in Israel's history.
    Some were opposition parties and their supporters, who demonstrated outside the Prime Minister's Residence, at intersections and on bridges for months on end. Others were his former allies and members of the right - Naftali Bennett's Yamina and Gideon Saar's New Hope.
    Some politicians would have crumbled in the face of such mass protests, but Netanyahu saw them as motivation to hang on to power and launched a campaign for survival.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    הפגנת הדגלים השחורים מול הכנסת
    הפגנת הדגלים השחורים מול הכנסת
    Protesters calling for ouster of Prime Minister Banjamin Netayahu three days before the March 23 elections
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    He has been called the best campaigner in the world and is certainly among the top three still living: Bill Clinton, Barak Obama and Donald Trump. All three former U.S. presidents had the advantage of charisma and the ability to control the political agenda. The same advantages served them during political crises.
    Clinton survived allegations of extra marital affairs, dodging the draft during the Vietnam War and a pot smoking past, and was elected president in 1992.
    Obama survived a scandal that was sparked by controversial statements made by his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Trump, meanwhile, won the 2016 elections despite an audio tape of him describing how he grabs women by their private parts, emerging just days before Americans went out to vote.
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    בנימין נתניהו ודונלד טראמפ
    בנימין נתניהו ודונלד טראמפ
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump
    (Photo: EPA)
    Netanyahu was projected to lose in each election over the past 12 years due to his performance as prime minister and recently corruption charges. But in the final days of campaigning, with his endless energy to reach every potential voter and his promises made in endless television interviews, have time and again delivered him the premiership.
    The March 23 elections were announced when Netanyahu was at a disadvantage. His management of the coronavirus pandemic left thousands of Israelis dead and thousands more jobless or in serious financial trouble.
    Vaccines were the tool Netanyahu saw as the only hope ahead of the election campaign and he exploited it relentlessly. He posed outside the planes that delivered them, he visited vaccination sites and posed with recipients.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו ויולי אדלשטיין בקבלת המטוס שמגיע עם החיסונים נגד קורונה לישראל
    בנימין נתניהו ויולי אדלשטיין בקבלת המטוס שמגיע עם החיסונים נגד קורונה לישראל
    Prime Minister Netanyahu poses for photos outside the plane delivering vaccines
    When asked about the corruption charges he faced, he responded by showcasing the country's high-paced vaccination campaign and announcing Israelis could return to their normal lives thanks to his efforts. Thanks to the vaccines, he ran a positive campaign for the first time in his career.
    But even his positive campaign fell short and Netanyahu emerged from the elections seemingly unable to form a right-wing coalition.
    He is now paying the price for his ill treatment of his peers from the opposition and from within his own camp. That is the price exacted by his former allies, who were abused and humiliated by him.
    For instance, Saar was Netanyahu's close ally who once called the prime minister a "political genius." Now, after he was pushed out of his political home - the Likud party -Saar is one of the kingmakers who stands between Netanyahu and a new government.
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    גדעון סער
    גדעון סער
    New Hope leader Gideon Saar after exit poll results on Election Day
    (Photo: AFP)
    Centrist Blue & White leader Benny Gantz breached his promises and seemingly destroyed his political career by joining a Netanyahu-led government in the wake of 2019 elections after the latter promised him a rotating premiership. Netanyahu, however, refused to fulfill the coalition agreement, destroying the former military chief's dream of serving as a premier.
    This time around Gantz saw the need to defeat the prime minister important enough to bring him back from a political death.
    And Bennett, who refused to say he would not to join Netanyahu in a new coalition, will likely not forget the Likud leader's personal attacks on his wife and father during previous campaigns.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו בביקור בכללית באבו גוש
    בנימין נתניהו בביקור בכללית באבו גוש
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to a vaccination site in the Arab village of Abu Gosh
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu will be unable to form a right-wing government but also a unity government will be out of his reach because everyone now knows he will never relinquish power even if on paper he'll agree to the rotation deal with either Bennett or Saar.
    The best campaigner in the world who ran the best campaign of his political life is now defeated by those who know his paranoia and personality all too well.
    It is hard to believe that the political stars will align in the sky again for him this time around.



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