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Israel Op-Ed

Netanyahu must announce his departure date

It would almost be unthinkable to imagine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing up front that he would be stepping down once the war ends, or that he would serve out his term and retire.

This is Netanyahu whom we are talking about, after all. Having said that, there could be a valid reason why this scenario should be entertained:

It would be highly beneficial for the State of Israel.

  • As soon as Netanyahu looks beyond his future political survival and ceases to deal with it amid the Gaza fighting, we will get a more refined and genuine conduct that best suits a leader, as we continue prosecuting this war, which appears to be far from over.
  • Politics will no longer be part of his calculus because he will no longer need it. He would not longer dwell on the Oslo Accords, which indeed were and still are a terrible thing (only that he became part of it).
  • He would no longer lay blame on the IDF senior brass for the lapses of Oct. 7 while soldiers and commanders sacrificed their lives for our right to live here. He will cease to feel politically threatened, whether from an imagined threat or a real one.

Most importantly, from the moment he and the rest of us are no longer preoccupied with Netanyahu’s political survival, his positions will be judged on their merits alone.

Whether it is his correct stance against creating a Palestinian state because it would be an existential threat, or views on supporting the vital, Zionist and security settlement in Judea and Samaria, and whether it is the reform, which is indeed necessary, in the justice system.

The ideology will finally be separated from the man. Today they are one and the same; he will no longer be front and center. Finally, we will be able to judge things based on pros and cons and not because of how they could impact a certain individual.

The right-wing majority in the Knesset, whether in the current Knesset or the next one, will be able to thwart leftist policies – which, as is now clear, most of the people do not support – with greater success now that the lawmakers would no longer automatically be suspect of acting on behalf of Netanyahu or strengthening his grip on power.

This will, of course, also have a positive effect on the internal reconciliation among Israelis and will prevent a renewed slide toward the abyss we fell into on the eve of the war.

It will also make it easier to genuinely engage in a thorough investigation as to the degree to which Hamas’ decision to go to war was affected by the government’s conduct, the sweeping and arrogant judicial reform efforts, and the abusive language of senior Likud officials. It will also be easier to examine how much Hamas was inspired by the reservists who threatened not to volunteer, or by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, and the hateful protest against Netanyahu, all of which cast us as a weak society in the eyes of Hamas.

How right and good it would have been if, after so many years in office, with a track record of tremendous achievements alongside appalling failures, Netanyahu led the war against Hamas free of any political or ego consideration, focused only on the goals of the war: destroying Hamas, freeing the captives and fundamentally changing the situation in Gaza.

  • In the words of the heroic mother, at her soldier son’s funeral: “If our soldiers managed to put their own interests aside and put the people at the center – our leaders should be able to do the same.”

Who knows: maybe after setting a date certain for his departure many more will be able to remember Netanyahu as one who knew, even if late, not only to take responsibility for the greatest calamity to befall Israel since its inception, a disaster that occurred on his watch, but also to fix what needed fixing without the politics that had even his erstwhile supporters sour on him.

Source: Nadav Shragai – ISRAEL HAYOM