When the Prime Minister announced this evening that he was dissolving the government and pushing us into early elections, he essentially filed for divorce. Divorce from Yair Lapid/Yesh Atid and Tzipi Livni/Hatnua. Major life changes, typically reveal a person’s character. And of course, this divorce therefore tells us a lot about who Netanyahu really is.
There is no question that the current coalition’s marriage has been on the rocks for a while. But some couples try to work out their differences, recognizing the effort is worth expending because a marriage is not just a simple agreement between two parties.
Other people (more and more in our increasingly disposable culture) simply throw away their troubled marriages, trying to “trade up” to a new and improved model. Netanyahu has shown himself here to fall squarely in this second camp.
Netanyahu, in his press conference, pointed the finger of blame squarely at Lapid and Livni. He claimed that his government had become ungovernable due to L&L’s insubordination. But the examples of their lack of obedience went back many months. So why did he wait until now to decide that he just couldn’t make it work? If the polls are to be believed (and clearly Bibi believes them), this is the first time since this government’s term began that Netanyahu would benefit from early elections. In other words, the real reason Bibi filed for divorce is his wandering eye.
The Prime Minister made major issues out of disagreements that did not actually prevent him from governing. Politics is about working together despite differences, not forcing people who disagree with you to pretend they agree. The government would continue to function even if some coalition members didn’t, for example, support the Jewish Nation State legislation. But Bibi chose to turn it into a divisive issue so he’d have an excuse to file for divorce.
That’s why he previously told Lapid he’d support the budget, and then changed his mind. This way he was able to claim it was Lapid’s fault, not his own. He was the entrapping spouse setting up hidden cameras at home and manufacturing artificial scenarios that would look bad in court at the divorce proceedings.
Notice also that Bibi only filed for a partial divorce — call it a separation agreement. He only accused Lapid and Livni, not Lieberman or Bennett. That’s because he knows he’ll need them if he’ll have a chance of forming a government after the next election (if given that opportunity). His claim that they went through successful relationship therapy and fell in line when he ordered them to doesn’t really hold water. He simply didn’t pick a fight with them again now as he did with the others.
Then Netanyahu used his divorce-announcing press conference to also launch his campaign. He asked (more than once) for people to vote for Likud in the upcoming elections, giving him a strong mandate. This was as tasteless as someone bringing his new girlfriend to his own divorce proceedings. Couldn’t he wait at least until the campaign actually begins? This divorce is looking ugly.
And we all know that in too many ugly divorces, the ones who really suffer are the children. Well the kids in this divorce are all of us — the citizens of the State of Israel. As with many children of divorce, most Israelis don’t want their parents to split. These elections are extremely unpopular among the citizenship. But more than that, the elections will hurt us directly, costing hundreds of millions of shekels in direct costs, and probably well over a billion in lost productivity on election day. Not to mention the damage done to our country’s governability due to the added upheaval and instability wrought by one of the shortest governments in our history.
So you may ask, what other choice did Bibi have? Should he have stuck it out with politicians that didn’t agree with him just because of the massive costs (monetary and democratic) to the government and people of Israel? Well, wasn’t that the implication of the marriage contract he signed when he told then-President Peres that he had come to an agreement with these other parties? He implicitly promised that he’d commit to working out his differences with his spouses, the very spouses he kicked aside tonight.
Some may say that this was a marriage that never should have taken place. It was doomed from the start, they say. Well then I say that Netanyahu should have admitted defeat and not tried to form the government. Someone who cares about this country would have tried to do what was best for it, not forcing it to plod through terminal problems he perpetuated while waiting for a more opportune time to find a suitable marriage partner.
So what does Netanyahu really want at the end of his string of political marriages? A legacy. Unlike other Prime Ministers whose legacies were based on their achievements, Bibi simply maintains the status quo, pushing the challenges along to whoever takes the helm when he leaves office. Thus, only a new marriage can provide Bibi with the legacy he wants: longevity. He hopes to rule for 5 more years so he can pass Ben Gurion as this country’s longest-serving Prime Minister. He wants quantity, thinking it proves quality.
That’s why Netanyahu has filed for divorce now, and that divorce decision shows us who he really is. He is willing to put us all through the pain and suffering of a divorce proceeding just so he can get a worthless prize via a new marriage.
And in that sense, he’s actually learning from some of his political opponents. Whenever there is the slightest problems in a labor dispute, the histadrut union files for divorce as well: Strike! In the end, however, they often back down.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu’s current divorce filing seems to be final.