ישיבת ממשלה
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

What should Israel be after Netanyahu?

Opinion: As the interminable political crisis and his own ongoing legal tribulations seem to push the PM's tenure into its twilight, the country must decide what its future will look like on the day after the man who only saw an increasingly divided country as an opportunity to consolidate his own power

Nadav Eyal |
Published: 12.13.19 , 22:19
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may refuse to say goodbye, but his autumn has passed and there's a sense of ending in the air.
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  • The right says that there will be no "bloc" after the elections; Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich of Jewish Home reminds us that Netanyahu had "always betrayed" his political allies from the religious Zionist movement and the media is recapping his political life.
    ישיבת ממשלהישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    For the first time in years, Netanyahu has a sterling rival from within his Likud party in the form of Gideon Sa'ar, who is running his campaign for party leadership without any superfluous finesse.
    Facing these adversaries are the capabilities of one of the world's most skilled politicians.
    Any eulogy for Netanyahu would be premature before he himself says "I resign."
    What will the country's character be in the post-Netanyahu era? Whether Likud or Blue & White, or both, the next leaders will have to reshape Israel after more than a decade of Netanyahu rule.
    The challenges his successors will have to face are colossal, the first being an uncompromising crackdown on the pervasive hatred plaguing Israeli society and the ill manner in which public discourse is conducted.
    The discourse has become caustic and bellicose in recent years and Netanyahu himself wasn't seeking compromise, advocating conciliatory rhetoric or getting a handle on ruptures in Israeli society before they got out of hand. On the contrary, he took advantage of these circumstances to become even more powerful.
    While his government did initiate many meaningful programs - such as augmenting police presence in the violence-plagued Arab sector - it was still unable to beget a new, more respectful discourse.
    Netanyahu himself tongue-lashed the rival political camp, minorities, the media, the judicial system and even rivals from within his own Likud party and the right-wing bloc while licensing others to act in a similar manner.
    A pro-Netanyahu rallyA pro-Netanyahu rally
    A pro-Netanyahu rally
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Another challenge lies in the comprehensive reforms that have been shelved for many years, the most pressing of them being the creation of a new order with the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We can't turn a blind eye to the Palestinian question.
    Netanyahu's attempts to tackle this issue only diminished Israeli deterrence and left hundreds of thousands living in constant post-trauma in southern Israel.
    The PISA program intended to evaluate pupils' scholastic performance proves that the education system provides poor results despite extensive funding, the healthcare system is on the brink of outright collapse, important economic reforms stand completely stagnant and housing prices keep soaring.
    The productivity of the Israeli economy is low in comparison with other western countries and a raging transportation crisis costs the state and its civilians billions and countless lost hours each year.
    Israel post-Netanyahu will be tasked with reconsidering its attitude towards corruption and integrity. An indicted prime minister is still innocent until proven guilty, but he should not run his personal legal battles while sending troops to the battlefront.
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit discusses his decision to indict Benjamin NetanyahuAttorney General Avichai Mandelblit discusses his decision to indict Benjamin Netanyahu
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit discusses his decision to indict Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Government Press Office)
    Netanyahu himself even signed a bill that would immediately terminate the tenure of an indicted prime minister back when his predecessor Ehud Olmert faced his own legal woes.
    This all pales in comparison with the legions of sycophants, fixers and sellswords pervading all governing bodies and the media – these are not people of principles and many of them will be quick to veer their allegiance in the post-Netanyahu era and offer their services to their new rulers.
    Both Likud and Blue & White will be judged by their ability to reintroduce self-criticism and self-improvement back to an Israel that acts more like a Baathist republic in the 60s rather than a republic established by skeptic, cautious and meticulous Jewish people.
    Israel was established by people who understood that self-critique is a source of power and not a sign of weakness or treachery.
    The greatest challenge is restoring normalcy to Israel and bring national reconciliation.
    Picture yourself a normal government with ordinary arguments over budgets, reforms and agendas; a government willing to reevaluate conventions that have been collecting dust for a decade or more; a government led by a prime minister who can lecture to high school students about integrity and the importance of living a decent, law-abiding life without one of the students bringing up his legal misadventures.
    I know it still sounds far off, and Netanyahu could be running his next government from the dock in Jerusalem District Court, but the many from across the entire political spectrum who wish to overthrow him need to think not only of his replacement but also of the Israel that will follow.
    First published: 22:19 , 12.13.19
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