Last Tuesday, December 22, midnight witnessed a chaotic parliamentary session in the Israeli Knesset, as the process of passing a law to postpone the deadline for approving the next budget of the occupied entity, which began parliamentary deliberations on it immediately after Benjamin Netanyahu took office as prime minister last April. This is the second time during which parliament fails to pass the budget, and the first was last August and the law was postponed to December 22.
Last April, Netanyahu succeeded, after a great effort, in persuading his political opponent, Benny Gantz, to form a rare national unity government as a last resort after the end of three inconclusive elections without any candidate being able to muster a parliamentary majority that is unique to the premiership, according to the Israeli National Unity Agreement. Netanyahu persuaded Gantz, his rival, that he would first serve as prime minister for an 18-month period (lasting until November 2021), with Gantz taking the post in the following period.
But Netanyahu seemed to be persistently insisting on setting political fires, thus cutting off the way for Gantz to assume the prime minister’s post, and he insisted on blocking approval of the budget after he disagreed with Gantz on approving it for two years, which is what Gantz wanted to ensure Netanyahu’s handover of power, and that disagreement led to failure Likud and the “Blue and White” party to their lack of agreement to pass the budget, and this intransigence led to the Speaker of Parliament announcing the dissolution of the Knesset and approving a fourth round of elections on March 23, probably next, elections that Netanyahu relies on to resolve what he could not resolve in the previous three times, and to keep it The Prime Minister’s chair and saving it from corruption cases surrounding it from all sides.
The biggest gap in the national unity agreement has always been considered the issue of passing the semi-annual general budget for the years 2020 and 2021. Netanyahu has insisted on passing two different budgets as a political tactic to keep his alliance with Gantz in an unstable state, as a one-year plan would give Netanyahu a loophole to bring down the government During the approval of the budget for the following year, before Gantz becomes prime minister next November, while Gantz and his party were insisting on approving a two-year budget under the pretext that Israel needs stability after the political and economic crisis it is going through.
Both the Likud party led by Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan (Blue White) headed by Gantz were looking for ways to postpone the deadline for legally approving the budget, as well as to amend their coalition agreement in line with the understandings reached behind the scenes, as Gantz asked Netanyahu Five demands, the most important of which are passing the 2020 and 2021 budgets, in addition to agreeing to all senior appointments that have been suspended, closing all loopholes that would allow Netanyahu to avoid handing over power to Gantz as part of the rotation agreement, and keeping Avi Nissenkorn as Minister of Justice (Netanyahu does not want him for reasons related to With his cooperation in the corruption cases surrounding him), and approval of the Knesset’s internal system, but what was expected happened, and Netanyahu rejected all the demands.
As a result, the budget crisis was the ostensible cause of the collapse of the alliance between his party and Gantz, who had expected from the start his failure, because he knew that Netanyahu hoped that returning to his post for the sixth time would mean forming a more flexible coalition that would pass legislation that would protect him from constant and fierce prosecution.
“We are bringing millions of vaccines, we have brought four peace agreements, we have reduced the Iranian threat, and we are transforming the Israeli economy into one of the leading economies in the world … Most Israelis are aware of our leadership and our huge achievements.”
(A statement by Netanyahu in the first moments when it was confirmed that the forthcoming fourth elections would be approved)
Although Netanyahu tried to publicize his achievements, perhaps deliberately ignoring the fact that his political adventures created an electorate fed up with him as a prime minister who holds the longest tenure in office compared to his predecessors, his political future faces a number of challenges, including what the recent US election results imposed with the loss of the Donald administration Trump, which is the administration from which Netanyahu reaped a lot of profits and political gains, and is now and worryingly facing a new administration that may expose his regime to several pressures to limit settlement activity and make concessions to the Palestinians, issues that cause Netanyahu to lose one of the assets of his election campaign, and a good percentage Of his right-wing supporters.
In terms of numbers, opinion polls show that Netanyahu’s secured bloc (Likud and the two ultra-Orthodox parties) is much less than the required majority, and that if he wants to ally with right-wing figures or others, he will find in front of him a political reputation represented in his lack of integrity and his abandonment of his obligations towards Gantz. The Times of Israel, Netanyahu’s reputation for dishonesty “severely limited his ability to strike deals that might save him to stay in power after March,” as the report puts it, and it is no longer sufficient to fight his opponents by joint victory, as he has done in the past three races. The report shows that despite the growth of the right in opinion polls compared to last year, or more precisely, the parties that define themselves as right-wing (including the ultra-Orthodox parties), and that they now hold about 80 seats in the Knesset, the camp against Netanyahu is also growing, and the division is no longer On Netanyahu, he traces the division between the left and the right in the known sense, through which Netanyahu is accustomed to waging his battles, but the division has become more complex and complex than that, which threatens his political future in what remains of it in a manner Amal.
“I will leave my post on the agreed date, there will be no tricks and no deception.” With these words, Netanyahu wanted to reassure Gantz nine months ago in order to withdraw his approval for a national unity government in which they would share power and exchange it in succession. However, the “political deceiver” as described by his opponents was not endorsed by them, and last Tuesday night came the best evidence for them that he failed his political partner by refusing to accept His party’s budget for two consecutive years and thus the collapse of the coalition and the entire government.
As a result, Gantz lost his credibility with many of his voters, and lost a large part of his popular support. Indeed, many of his “Blue White” lawmakers voted against the attempt to postpone the final budget law as Gantz wanted to avoid the elections, and there were rumors among them that the party leader had broken his promise in his campaign. He entered into a national government with “corrupt Netanyahu,” which means that Gantz’s political age, which lasted two years, may be about to end after Netanyahu succeeded in making him a consuming power. The man who enjoyed voting and thus political power in the last elections loses control of his party day by day It is the party that includes the most influential politicians united in their opposition to Netanyahu in the domestic arena.
According to the above, Gantz, the candidate who won 33 seats in the last March elections and recommended 61 of the 120 Knesset members to the position of Prime Minister, has lost likely his political future. And, as The Times of Israel reports, after an impressive rise. From a non-rival political player to an alternate Prime Minister within a year and a half; Gantz’s future in Israeli politics looks bleak now, and the report shows that opinion polls put the prospects for Gantz’s party, “Blue White”, coming within five or six seats, barely above the legal electoral threshold.
What will distinguish the fourth elections from the three that preceded them is that Netanyahu’s rival, the president, this time will be from his right wing himself, as the former Likud minister, Gideon Sa’ar, who founded the “New Hope” or (New Hope) party, and wanted in recent days to dissolve the Knesset As soon as possible, he is now devoting his efforts to toppling Netanyahu, as the most hard-line man on the issues of conflict with the Palestinians and settlement, favored by right-wing disaffected with Netanyahu, has a strong ambition to become prime minister and to change the face that has represented the right since 2009 without interruption.
Sa’ar, as a major opponent, has several advantages, as he comes from the right wing and from the same political spectrum, and Netanyahu did not dare to brand him, for example, a “fierce left” or even a “traitor” as he did with his opponents, and he also promises voters that he is more effective in facing the Corona virus Which is very vital for the Israeli interior in the current period, and also promises them that he is “righteous” competing within a voter base fed up with the effects of Netanyahu’s corruption cases, and he has previously said that everyone knows that Netanyahu has several obstacles, such as his personal relations with the various leaders of the parties and parties that It wants to exclude him because of the issues haunting him, and right-wing voters who will leave this front and will not return if Netanyahu leads them again.
So, the former Likud leader built a small pocket of supporters for him in the Knesset and among the right-wing parties, and adopted policies that could entice many of the right-wing supporters. According to some recent opinion polls, his party is expected to win about 19 seats in the upcoming elections, which will make it the second largest party in the Knesset, and prevent Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc from winning a majority.
In general, the main reason for holding three elections in Israel during the last period was Netanyahu’s legal and political calculations, as he wanted to cling to power through his presence in the Prime Minister’s Office and to save himself from the series of scandals and corruption issues surrounding him, which are related to issues of fraud, accepting bribes, breaching trust and providing He bribed several media figures in return for positive press coverage about him and his family.
As we mentioned, Netanyahu sought by obstructing the approval of the two-year budget to reach a solution to the Knesset, trying to provide a loophole to escape from the coalition agreement, but what awaits early next year may tip the balance of what he has planned, as he is on a date with a corruption trial that may move him to a stage where he needs There are many, accurate and detailed evidences to build a coherent defense strategy, and with the testimony of witnesses, Netanyahu’s exit will be difficult this time as his trial coincides with his election campaign, which will be held in full swing.
But despite the above, King “Bibi”, as his supporters call him, is still betting that the upcoming elections will give him a good opportunity to form a right-wing government that guarantees him immunity from prosecution by canceling it permanently or postponing the trial until further notice, but at a time when the Israeli parties appear Those with centrist and leftist tendencies are largely marginalized. The general elections may result in a significant shift in the formation of Israeli political parties, which may harm their chances.
In this context, a report by the popular local newspaper “Haaretz” states that many of the currently competing parties may face a problem in exceeding the 3.25% electoral limit, which is one of the factors that could be in Netanyahu’s favor, but the bloc that represents the biggest threat to him. It comes from within his right wing, which is a bloc of three parties “New Hope,” the Yamania party, and the Yisrael Beiteinu party, while there is still no way for all center-left parties to enter the next Knesset if they run separately in the elections, and unless a near merger of the center-left takes place before the February 4 deadline Next to present the candidates to the Central Election Commission, this would be the weakest front for the opposition.
It seems, then, that Netanyahu’s path to form a government on its own is paved with roses if there is no counter-right-wing bloc that carries its same orientations without the bad political character and the worse personal reputation that it currently has within the corridors of his opponents and some of his supporters as well, and if Netanyahu is able to overcome this impasse, a dilemma that will await the Biden administration The incoming American will do what will result before doing anything, if King Bibi can bypass it, then we suggest that this will guarantee him a stable period at the head of the next entity’s government and an authority that will become difficult to transgress in the near future, and his survival and victory, if they happen, will mean that he will strengthen his position as the historic Israeli Prime Minister This will open broader horizons for expanding the process of normalization underway, and will darken the prospects for Palestinian rights.