Netanyahu’s Nemesis

Netanyahu and Bennett have become the ‘odd couple’ of Israeli politics. They are like a vindictive mirror image of each other. When one fails where the other failed previously, they crow. When one succeeds where the other succeeds, they belittle the achievements. And the never ending cycle is about to revolve yet again. Netanyahu regards Bennett as his nemesis.

Netanyahu is hellbent on bringing Bennett down. His strategy is straightforward. Collapse the government, and go to an interim government with Lapid as PM. As before, the acting Prime Minister will inherit all the problems of managing a very small majority and will be held hostage to every demand made by his partners. And they will make demands- they always do, and always will. The new Prime Minister will also inherit an ailing economy which is part of the worldwide economy maelstrom, and hence rule over a miserable population. The Iranian imbroglio is coming to the boil, and the PM will have to face that too. Bibi envisages facing a battered opponent on election day. Bibi does not want power now. In addition to all the above problems, he meets those of his own. On the foreign front, Bibi will have to face a US president with no interest in shielding him as he had with Bennett. The president will attack Bibi as the previous Democratic president did. The wisest positioning is to stay in opposition in the transition period and then go to the polls in the late Autumn.

Even with this ploy, I can see no way that Netanyahu can win an election. Those who opposed him still oppose him. The never-ending Netanyahu trial is not going away and is now more significant; how do we allow an indicted PM to run the country and his court case? The Likud will be running with an extreme right-wing party as an ally. This addition can only mobilise the opposition to go to vote. The somewhat bizarre behaviour by dillydallying over settlers’ rights will also take a toll. Netanyahu may win, but he will not be able to form a stable government. Netanyahu made a political greenhorn mistake—disenchanted some of his camp and motivated the opposition to vote. Even if the opinion polls are correct and Einstein’s definition of insanity negated—’ doing the same thing and expecting different results’—there is a catch. The government will be as narrow as Bennett’s and open to ‘blackmail’, as it was in all previous limited governments, irrespective of the PM. Netanyahu’s government will collapse just as Bennetts has.

Only one thing is sure; the Likud party will not allow Bibi to repeat this never ending cycle. Another failure will lead to a change in the Likud leadership. But Bibi is prepared to gamble, as he has nothing to lose. In these circumstances, he will want to go to the polls in the best position possible – as explained above, that is, in opposition.

Only one person can stymy Bibi’s plans—Bennett. If Bennett were to resign from the Knesset, the rump of his party would cross the lines and support Netanyahu. The Arab party supporting Bennett would probably fracture but, all the same, be enticed to support Netanyahu. They were on the verge of it before; nothing had changed. Post-resignation, Bennett would repackage himself as a man who placed unity above all. A man who accepted personal responsibility and the only man who faced off Bibi and functioned as PM. Why should he spend a hundred days as an irrelevancy? Bennett can remain relevant and build a base as the sain observant right-wing. Bennett has only to gain by resigning from the Knesset and ‘forcing’ Netanyahu to accept the poison chalice and inevitably fail.

This essay is called Bibi’s Nemesis. The logic is that it is Bennett; it isn’t. Benyamin Netanyahu is a gifted, intelligent man. He is wise and experienced enough to realise that his living and governing style is a superfluous irritant. But nothing changes, and we must ask why? Has Bibi a political death wish? He is entering into the period known as the ‘Netanyahu Legacy.’ Netanyahu is the Israeli Nixon, a flawed genius who brought himself down and denied his legacy. Netanyahu was in his mid-twenties and very aware of the American political scene. Much closer to home, we see Netanyahu’s relationship with his father, who never enjoyed his just deserts and lifetime award. Netanyahu, the father, could have but never reached the heights he could have. Is Bibi following in his father’s footsteps in finalising his life in frustration? Finally, the death of brother Yonni makes me wonder if Bibi ever got over his brother’s death? Often when we mourn, we idolise the departed and feel more than remorse but guilt—as if we are not worthy. Much of this is probably psychobabble. Nevertheless, a distinct aura of a Greek Tragedy surrounds this fascinating and infuriatingly gifted man, Bibi Netanyahu.

About the Author
Born in Leeds in 1944, Michael Benjamin is a retired Psychiatrist and medical auditor, co-founder of Oranit, aspiring author and inveterate cynic.