What did the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) and its heads ever do to him or to his associates? Nothing. It takes a considerable amount of shamelessness to argue that this is a dispute between the Right and the Left. If there is a dispute, it’s between the different shades of the Right: Between those who are willing to nod at every word Netanyahu says and those who, God forbid, support Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and other right-wing people.
The IPBC is just an unconvincing excuse. Netanyahu couldn’t care less about the employees who will be dismissed. On the contrary. According to Netanyahu, there are people who should be fired under the new agreements. Controlling the media is another spin—it’s difficult to control the media even if one succeeds in meddling in the managers’ appointment. What we have is a rational decision, and if it won’t be implemented now, it will be implemented in the next crisis—and by then, the excuse will be more convincing.
The Likud members are stressed out by the option of elections, even the yes men. That may have been enough to convince Netanyahu to end the crisis, but it doesn’t end anything. The decision he made on Saturday to create the crisis in the first place is the important move. Netanyahu thought it over, hesitated, changed his mind and then made a decision. Not about shutting down the IPBC, but about the real thing—the elections. Whoever creates a crisis with his most stable partner in the coalition is taking a gamble on its existence. And whoever takes a gamble on its existence intends for it to be dissolved.
No one understands the logic behind the decision, including Culture Minister Miri Regev, who was sent to give confused interviews in favor and against it. Elections mean losing what already exists: A stable right-wing government with small ideological differences and important governmental processes that have begun.
Elections are also a violation of Netanyahu’s promise to build a new community for the Amona evictees (because no one deals with sensitive issues during an election campaign), a dissolution of the idea to apply Israeli sovereignty to Ma’ale Adumim (because no one deals with policy in such a situation) and, most importantly, the establishment of the IPBC (which is allegedly the official reason for this entire crisis). Add to that a huge waste of public funds, and you’ll get a series of losses.
But what seems like a loss could turn, with thick cynical glasses, into a profit. Apart from the investigations that are disrupting the agenda, the fear of an indictment and of the subversives seeking to take his place, Netanyahu seems to have a strong desire to avoid dealing in the coming months with promises he has no desire to keep.
What was expected did, in fact. happen. Israel failed to tell the new US administration what it wants in the absence of peace, so the new administration decided to say whatever it wants. Without elections, Netanyahu will have to deal with the justified disappointment of the Amona evictees, with the disappointment of his partners from the Bayit Yehudi party, with the disappointment of all those who expected him to keep the promises he made to everyone.
According to Netanyahu’s perception, such promises vanish at the beginning of every new term. He created a public broadcasting corporation, and then decided that he didn’t want it. He was against two states for two people, and then in favor. He promised a change in the governmental system, and then left it as it was. If he promised a dramatic change vis-à-vis the Trump administration before the elections, nothing will happen after the elections.
Granted, there is a huge risk in going to elections. History shows that Election Day surprises do not repeat themselves two times in a row. This was experienced by parties like Shinui, the Pensioners, Kadima and Yesh Atid. The Likud was the big surprise of the last elections. The chance that Netanyahu will manage to regain 30 Knesset seats is not high. So why, then? Just for the sake of it.
Between the risk involved in going to elections and his desire to erase his personal debts to the voters and to postpone the police investigations by several months, Netanyahu has decided to take the second option. The current crisis will be solved with more acrobatic phrasing, as heads will role (an outcome that is a scandal in itself). Whatever the outcome, though, it's impossible to uproot the seed of thought planted in Netanyahu’s mind. We are heading towards elections, with or without the crisis.