One can argue whether the Trajtenberg Committee did a professional job or not, yet one thing is certain: The people at the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Minister’s Office are amateurs. Otherwise, how can one explain the embarrassment – sorry, disgrace – sustained by the prime minister Monday when he was forced to postpone the vote on the report?
As always, the intentions were noble. Yet when it came to the execution, God help us if this is how things are managed around the prime minister. On Sunday, Netanyahu announced that there will be a debate, but no vote. Monday morning, when he realized this is also a leadership test for him, he changed his mind.
At times it seems as though Netanyahu makes his decisions like an adolescent girl who checks whether she is loved: Loves me, loves me not. Yes to a vote, no to a vote. Likud ministers say that he arrived at the faction meeting after the headlines reported that there will be no vote because Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu oppose it. Who said there’s no vote? Netanyahu wondered arrogantly.
What a pity. Had he listened to the headlines, his situation wouldn’t have been that bad. There would be no shame in deciding to hold a serious, in-depth discussion in the government and hold the vote on a different occasion. Silvan Shalom warned him: There must be no vote. Publicly, one cannot hold such brief debate on such a serious report, and politically, Likud still has only 27 Knesset seats. If that’s the case, Shalom told Bibi, how will you pass this in the Knesset?
Minister Erdan also endorsed a peaceful solution, Yet Netanyahu kept firing, yes to a vote, no to vote, and so the vote turned into a challenge. Yet there the picture became clear, and it turned out that the PM has no majority not only because his three coalition partners object, but also because three Likud ministers object – Kahalon, Shalom and Peled.
The result: Netanyahu was forced to capitulate and did not pass in his government what is to a large extent the apple of his eye, his flagship, something he truly believes in.
Bibi must put house in order
So what is the meaning of the disgrace that took place Monday? How could the prime minister face such embarrassment? First, it means that nobody did their homework, neither at the Prime Minister’s Office nor at the Treasury. Nobody checked to ensure that there is a majority, which is the most elementary step before proceeding with a vote.
Yet more than anything, this attests to nearing elections. If all the coalition parties do not endorse such major moves, but rather, flex their muscles, this is a first indication that they are hearing the ground shaking. They smell the blood.
Yet the conduct of three Likud ministers, who took the liberty to disgrace the prime minister, is even more meaningful. After all, the report was supposed to be the government’s response to the social protest. This shows that the internal Likud theater is heating up as well.
Now, Netanyahu will have to think about how to pass the report in his government after all and who to appease and pay. Assuming that we know how the system works, the payment to the parties will be much more expensive than all the benefits to the middle class offered by the Trajtenberg Report.
And this is just the beginning. An even more complex task awaits Netanyahu at the Knesset. Moreover, this ordeal may reignite the social protest. After all, if there is no majority for the report even within the government, how can one convince the public that it’s a good report?
If Netanyahu was in a good mood on Rosh Hashana, he will be in a wholly different mood by the time Yom Kippur rolls around. And we haven’t even mentioned the threats issued by the medical interns. One thing is clear: Netanyahu urgently needs to put his own house in order: His office, his party, his government and his coalition.
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