Netanyahu is caught between Biden's hammer and the right-wing bloc's anvil

Analysis: The NYT report illustrates that the prime minister navigated himself and his coalition to a point of no return, with two destructive choices – if he passes judicial overhaul legislation the public-state-security price will be calamitous, and if he stops the legislation he will pay a great political price
These are fateful days for Israel, during which it seems we are witnessing its first-ever disintegration of the IDF's "People's Army" model. Every time you go back to check the news, you hear of another petition that was signed – by combat soldiers, pilots or other protesters, announcing their retirement from reserves duty due to the push for judicial reform.
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The message Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to convey over the weekend was that "we can manage without a few pilots, but we cannot manage without a government." However, he knows very well that, truth is, we can't manage without these few pilots. More so, the absence of a few skilled pilots for a month or two affects the readiness of the Israeli Air Force.
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 ישיבת ממשלה
 ישיבת ממשלה
Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel 'can manage without a few pilots' but not without a government
(Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/Pool)
Netanyahu's message is directed toward the protesters, trying to convince them they have no reason to continue resisting, because he does not intend to back down. Well, the message was not received, evidently. The protests are only growing.
On top of this, the relationship with the United States is also at stake. This morning, the New York Times reported that President Joe Biden sent a message to Netanyahu to put a stop to the legislation immediately. In response, the head of the National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, claimed that this statement was never mentioned during the conversation. What he doesn't realize is that Netanyahu's people are focusing on minor details and not on the actual matter at hand.
It doesn't matter what was or wasn't said directly to Netanyahu during this meeting. What does matter is that the president of the United States called over the senior columnist of the most important newspaper in the U.S., Tom Friedman, and told him that he is against the reform and against Netanyahu. Those who know the Americans and are familiar with how they conduct diplomacy know that, after such a statement, Netanyahu diving head first into the approval of the controversial legislation will be seen as a snub to the president. And this could have a heavy price.
Technically, Netanyahu does have the option to stop, but stopping at this stage could lead to the government's breakup. It will also be a severe blow to the right-wing bloc, which has been carrying its disappointment for several months now because the government it chose is not exactly governing. Likud activists who have met with senior members of the Knesset and ministers in recent days are conveying a harsh message: "Next time, we won't come through with a vote. We're done with you all." These messages are also shaking Netanyahu's office. The rage of the right, which is likely to erupt soon, is no less dangerous than the anger of the left that sets the Ayalon Highway on fire and blocks major roads.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin's threats to resign have not been acknowledged so far, but the coalition is moving so fast toward passing the law to limit the reasonableness clause, making Netanyahu's option of pressing the emergency brake detrimental for the government, and could even lead to its breakup. Perhaps even the entire right-wing bloc could be impacted. Netanyahu seems to have led himself, and his partners, to a point of no return.
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יריב לוין  במליאת הכנסת
יריב לוין  במליאת הכנסת
Yariv Levin has threatened to resign if judicial reform is not passed
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Netanyahu has navigated himself and his coalition to a crossroads with two destructive options. If he passes the legislation, the public-state-security price will be calamitous. If he stops the legislation, he will pay a great political price
It is reasonable to assume that, in an attempt to escape this maze, he might try to moderate, even unilaterally, the wording of the reasonableness clause law, in hopes that the protests will weaken. However, the horses have already left the barn, and it is highly doubtful that a change in the wording will appease those who see the legislative process as equivalent to the death of the state.
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