Netanyahu is blaming Israeli voters for his inability to rule
Op-ed: If the prime minister says he is incapable of controlling a government without a large Likud faction, how will he lead the next government? From Netanyahu's point of view, another government led by him is a chronicle of a foretold failure.
It's the people's fault, Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, one of the Labor Party leaders, basically said when the voters turned their back on his party in 1977 and elected a government led by Menachem Begin.
For years, Ben-Aharon's words served as an example of the arrogance, insensitivity and alienation of the Labor Party. A politician who blames voters for his failure is like a dancer blaming the floor for his fall and a plumber blaming a pipe for leaking. He becomes a subject of ridicule and mockery.
Netanyahu knows the people are not interested in these elections. Not because the people are so happy with the government or satisfied with the current situation. On the contrary. But the people assume that the situation won't improve as a result of the elections, and may even become worse. It's like in that old joke about the British army: The good news is that we're going to change our underwear; the bad news is that we're going to change it with each other.
Moreover, when it comes to history, Netanyahu has a habit of confusing the facts. The confusion begins in 1999, when Netanyahu run against Ehud Barak and was defeated. Two years later, in 2001, there were special elections for prime minister. Netanyahu could have been elected as the Likud candidate. He refused, explaining that he would not be able to lead the government with a small Likud faction behind him.
On Tuesday, during his press conference, Netanyahu proudly presented that decision from 2001. He said it proved that he had been willing to give up the premiership in favor of an efficient and organized government.
At the time, Ariel Sharon took his place, won the elections and established one of the most efficient, stable and successful governments in the history of the State of Israel. His government dealt with a serious wave of terror as part of the second intifada, fought and won.
Sharon succeeded in controlling his government thanks to his leadership skills, craftiness and political experience. The diminished Likud faction didn't bother him. On the contrary, the damage began when the Sharon-led Likud doubled its power in 2003. The revolt broke out in the large Likud faction.
The first lesson is that governments are not a reality show: You don't choose your government; you run your government. If the person heading the government is incapable of leading it, it falls apart.
The second lesson is that the cracks in the coalition's performance don't start from the partners but from the ruling party.
That's what happened in the current government too: In its first year, the most obedient factions were Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu. The Likud and Bayit Yehudi factions acted differently. In the Likud, Knesset Members Danny Danon, Moshe Feiglin, Miri Regev and others did as they pleased; in Bayit Yehudi, Minister Uri Ariel and the members of his sub-faction went wild, and others went wild too.
But why dwell on the past? Let's look forward. If Netanyahu says he is incapable of controlling a government without a large Likud faction, how will he lead the next government? Why every poll, including the polls lying on his desk, gives the Likud around 20 Knesset seats, no more. From Netanyahu's point of view, the next government led by him is a chronicle of a foretold failure.
The dismissal notices he sent Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on Tuesday evening were justified. Not because of their alleged conspiracies against him. The conspiracies of Lapid's people were theoretical at most, while the attempts made by the prime minister's messengers to reach an agreement with the ultra-Orthodox parties were slightly more serious.
But all the attempts, from here and from there, crashed on the walls of the Ashkenazi haredim. The haredi Knesset members proved that they are serious people who respect the rules of the game. Their heart isn't subject to false adventures.
The justification for the two ministers' dismissal should be found in the present, not in the past. In the current situation, their continued presence around the cabinet table would have been an insult to the prime minister's status, an insult to them and an insult to the political system. It was time to say goodbye.
But the way they were described by Netanyahu was ridiculous. He blew up their alleged sins to monstrous dimensions. The Iranian nuclear program, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic State, US President Barack Obama, Livni and Lapid – they have all been conspiring to destroy the Jewish nationality, led by its elected representative.
Only a person with a very agitated and troubled soul is capable of blowing up his rivals to such dimensions.