It was fascinating to hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu growl last night, in a rage, looking like a robbed Cossack, as words tumbled out of his mouth and his sentences wandered en route to their point about “lust for power,” and “uncontrollable ambition to be prime minister,” and “not keeping promises” and “spitting in the face of democracy.”
Thus, without a drop of shame or self-awareness, a man for whom these characteristics have become practically his middle name over the years ascribes them to Naftali Bennett.
Thus speaks the man who spews barbs as he spits in the face of Israeli democracy, which he has been abusing in recent years on a daily basis.
It’s been a long time since he looked so hysterical, frightened and almost defeated.
His arguments were ridiculous and pitiable. He admits, not for the first time, that he has no government. If so, why doesn’t he give back the mandate to form one?
His campaign for direct election of the prime minister is his only remaining lifeline. To camouflage the fact that this means a fifth election – with two rounds, incidentally – he is describing it as a “referendum.” Something light. What nation doesn’t like to be asked its opinion?
The recklessness he conveys, his desire for a direct election that he believes (apparently with good reason) will crown him prime minister, illustrates the risk to us if this were indeed to happen.
Imagine the force of the rhetoric, the complete renunciation of any restraint, after he were elected and after he managed to bend and break the Knesset and later on also the legal system that has been inhibiting him and his malicious plots for over two years.
Anyone who does not support his demand, in particular Bennett, is skewered with a thousand derogatory names, most prominently “leftist” of course. Whoever opposes a direct election is illegitimate, subversive, not a democrat. Bennett, as head of a unity government, becomes a right-wing “pinhead” who will head a left-wing government (forgetting that Gideon Sa’ar and Avigdor Lieberman will also be in it, and that it will be a government in which all parties have veto power).
This was another performance that is unlikely to serve the performer. This time, contrary to his previous fiery speech, he attacked only Bennett, not the United Arab List. (“We don’t need them,” he said Tuesday when it was clear to everyone that without Mansour Abbas there is no Knesset majority for Shas’ bill calling for direct elections.)
As for Bennett, who spoke before Netanyahu, and was quieter and more restrained (not that that was so difficult), the Yamina chairman didn’t have much new to say other than to outline his proposal, which was already known. His first choice is a right-wing government (which, as we saw Wednesday, has no chance); second is an attempt to establish a national unity government with him heading it (note that Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid calls it an “Israeli unity government); and only if this fails would he consider a fifth election in “some form or another.”
The badly squeezed Netanyahu isn’t buying into that faint hope.
He knows that desire – and yes, there is also desire in the rival camp and this time quite a bit of experience and political abilities – could bring about the formation of an alternative government.
For the first time in many years, he seems to be realizing that sometimes the party really is over. Lights out.
Source: Yossi Verter – HAARETZ