Looked amused. Bibi
Photo: Amit Magal

Scared of Netanyahu

Bibi says his rivals don’t want early elections because they know he will win

“Hannibal was a military commander who lived more than 2,000 years ago and defeated the Romans in several battles,” Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Knesset cafeteria last week. “For Hundreds of years, mothers in Rome would use him to scare children who wouldn’t eat. They would tell them: ‘If you don’t eat, Hannibal will come for you.’ Now, Hannibal is back. I’m Hannibal.”


Netanyahu looked amused when he told this odd story, yet in reality he wasn’t amused at all. At the same time, not too far away from him, Haim Ramon was saying that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister and referred to Ehud Barak, who was still threatening to dissolve the Knesset that day, as “Bibi’s campaign manager.”


Ramon was not trying to talk quietly, and the Likud chairman could hear that he was the subject of discussion. “Bibi will come, Bibi will come,” Netanyahu imitated his rivals with a disparaging smile. “They are using me to scare the public and other politicians. They’re scared that if we have early elections, the public will democratically elect the person it wants. Oy vey.”


‘No need to commit suicide for Bibi’

The opposition leader may not be Hannibal, but he is apparently right. Labor’s and Kadima’s leaders’ fears of losing to the Likud in the general elections pushed them into each other’s arms. After Barak threatened to dissolve the Knesset and completely shook up the political establishment, he suddenly agreed to compromise and become an easy target for critics who were just waiting for him to yield and change his mind.


Further testament to Barak’s lack of desire to dissolve the Knesset can be seen when examining what happened Wednesday, as MK Silvan Shalom sought to finalize a document to coordinate the moves of Labor, Likud, and Shas. Shalom wanted to know the name of the candidate to be presented in the no-confidence motion to be submitted after the Knesset is dissolved. Yet Labor Party Minister Shalom Simhon relayed an unequivocal message from Barak: Don’t touch this issue. The no-confidence vote is not part of this; Labor does not intend to vote against Olmert.”


Barak’s close associates admitted, after the deal with Kadima was approved by the Labor faction, that the fear of Bibi indeed played a significant role in the decision to reach understandings with Kadima.


“Why should we play into Bibi’s hands?” wondered a senior Labor figure closely associated with Barak. “The objective here is not to bring Bibi back to power, but rather, to send Olmert packing. We don’t need to commit suicide for Bibi.” 


פרסום ראשון: 06.28.08, 15:26
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