On Wednesday, it was David Ben-Gurion’s turn. During the official memorial ceremony marking 45 years since the death of Israel's first prime minister, Netanyahu gave a speech, explaining to his voters that he is not to blame for the ongoing failure in Gaza—he is merely fulfilling Ben-Gurion's legacy.
"In times of crisis Ben-Gurion made fateful decisions. Sometimes he did so against popular opinion, but in the course of time, these decisions proved to be correct,” stressed the prime minister, adding “Leadership is not to do the easy thing, leadership is to do the right thing, even if it is difficult.”
Ben-Gurion did not rise from the grave to put Netanyahu in his place, because the dead do not rise from graves. However, that shouldn’t stop the Israelis from knowing the truth. The failure to deal with Hamas is not a result of strong leadership. It stems from the exact opposite—a complete lack of leadership.
The solution to the Gaza issue should have been found long before Hamas escalated the violence on the border, which the IDF and Shin Bet warned the government about. There were different ideas on the table, each of them involved a certain risk, but Netanyahu chose the easiest option. He chose not to decide.
Ben-Gurion dealt with existential issues. His decisions were not free of error, but he had the courage to decide. Netanyahu cannot compare himself to Ben-Gurion.
Netanyahu chose to end the latest round of escalation because he understands that another month of violence would only lead to more casualties, more botched ground operations in the strip and further disappointment among his electorate. The most outrageous aspect of this latest round of hostilities is that no lessons have been learned—Netanyahu is re-entrenched in his policy of non-decision, at least until the next time.
Netanyahu's weakness was Lieberman's lifeline. The press conference he convened on Wednesday did not make Israeli public more educated on the issue of security, but it was a masterclass as far as politics are concerned.
Lieberman resigned from his post with elections in mind—he had to position himself to the right of Netanyahu and Bennett, otherwise he had nothing to sell to the voters. He did it well, eloquently, elegantly, with a cruel review of all the issues Netanyahu is sensitive about—which Lieberman is familiar with better than anyone else. This is not the first time that Lieberman decided to enter an election campaign as the opposition. To his credit, Lieberman’s rhetoric has always been consistent because unlike others, he has been saying the same things for years.
In practice, as defense minister, Lieberman was able to separate his rhetoric from his actions. There are apparently two of him, and they live peacefully side by side.
What is required now, after Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu quit the coalition, is to dissolve the government and call snap elections. The government can not be held hostage by Oren Hazan’s every belch. After all, this was the reason why Netanyahu brought Lieberman into his government and gave him the defense portfolio. Anything the coalition does from now on, if it actually does anything, will be contrary to the national interest.
Netanyahu can’t hold the top three government portfolios simultaneously. It is possible in a transitional government, on the eve of an election, but not in a functioning government. Enough is enough.
I will be the defense minister, Bennett declared with an ultimatum—that if he doesn’t get his way early elections will be inevitable.
Bennett is a full-fledged politician, with an open mind and youthful enthusiasm, but his ultimatum is childish. Firstly, because he expects Netanyahu to surrender—that would be one capitulation too many. Secondly, because he doesn’t deserve it, and it would cause an unrest in the government. Thirdly, his threats to quit the coalition on the basis of a personal ambition, is not something the voters will like.
Most importantly, Bennett isn’t ready. Unlike Lieberman, who knew how to make a distinction between political slogans and defense missions, Bennett believes it’s in his power to change it. Similarly to what Ayelet Shaked did in the Justice Ministry. It's not a promise, it’s a threat. Because national security is a matter of life and death.