A war would save Netanyahu

Despite hopes that the second election in one year would clarify the direction Israel wants to take, the situation remains unsettled with Netanyahu unable to construct a ruling coalition. Contrary to conventional wisdom Netanyahu remains the odds-on favorite to become the next Prime Minister of Israel. First, as Prime Minister he is likely to delay or prevent prosecution of the criminal charges for bribery and breach of trust looming against him. Second, he has a better path  to form a government because he controls future events.

Netanyahu’s Likud fell short of Gantz’s Blue and White party by two candidates. However, he has a solid and proven coalition with the religious and Yemina (the right ) party. They  already signed a pact committing themselves to form a government with each other. He is short 5-7 Knesset members . Where will he get them?

Ganz may have come in first but cannot form a government and has a shaky coalition, if at all. He can probably rely on the far-left party Meretz and the center Labor . His option of forming a coalition with the combined Arab party is not attractive because it is not a Zionist party. Forming a coalition with Lieberman is also questionable since Lieberman declared that he will not sit in a government with Arabs (calling them “the enemy” )and further declare that he only supports a national unity government with Netanyahu , Ganz and himself without “messianic” religious Jews , Arabs or lefties.

Ganz has a hypothetical coalition which will leave him short of becoming Prime Minister. Netanyahu has a solid coalition which also leaves him short. Currently the prime minister is Netanyahu not Ganz. They each need 5-7 Knesset members to bring them to the top.

Netanyahu can gain those additional members by splintering the other parties to get some of their members to defect and join forces with him. However, he needs to give them legitimate justification for doing so. “Changed reality” would give those members the necessary political cover to join him in time of Emergency to form a strong government.

Most political parties in Israel are Zionist and Nationalistic.  During military engagement the Israeli population shifts to the right favoring the government and the Prime Minister. The Israeli population is likely to forgive those candidates who opposed Netanyahu but chose to join him by virtue of dire changes in Israel’s security concerns.

Netanyahu could get those defectors from Ganz’s party, since many of them are retired generals or from the Labor Party (Amir Peretz served as Defense Minister and is hoping to become the next President) or from Avigdor Lieberman or members of his party.

There is no shortage of possible wars for Israel. It  is in a constant engagement with Hamas in Gaza, Iran , Syria and Hezbollah. When questioned during the elections  Netanyahu  promised to deal with Hamas  at the time of” his choosing”.  To preserve his power, that time might come soon.

A war will also delay and possibly prevent Trump from introducing his peace plan saving Netanyahu from the need to confront the Israeli Palestinian conflict for a long time.

About the Author
Josef Avesar is founder of the Israeli Palestinian Confederation, which advocates for a mutual third government for Israelis and Palestinians. An American-Israeli of Iraqi background, he practices law in the U.S., but travels frequently to Israel and Palestine.
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