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Netanyahu’s Attempt at a Constitutional Putsch Put Rivals Closer to Government

The explanations for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flip-flop range from political (an effort to restore a sense of sanity to the system and control damage in the negotiations with Naftali Bennett); to the legal (his panic that the High Court of Justice was poised not just to void the appointment of Ofir Akunis as justice minister, but would rip him to shreds and perhaps even hint at incapacitation), to the psychological (his tendencies to sharp mood swings, bordering on manic depression, as his mandate ends, along with his dreamy rental contract on Balfour Street).

It’s possible that all the explanations are valid. Still, the contrast between his wild behavior in the cabinet (and his written response to the High Court, in which he brazenly justified the illegal vote on Akunis), and his sudden U-turn, is extreme, and every Israeli should be worried.

In previous instances in which he walked back bad decisions, the explanation generally was, “The prime minister is attentive to the public.” This time we didn’t even hear that.

This time, even as legal reporters were quoting his letter to the High Court, political reporters were breaking into broadcasts to read a press release from the premier’s political spokesman that constituted a turn of 180 degrees.

It was a perfect illustration of the mythic barb by Ariel Sharon: “I don’t know which Bibi to believe, his right hand or his left hand.”

There’s no point in asking who is advising him during these critical times. He is surrounded by a gang of yes-men. From the most embarrassing cabinet secretary ever, to various spokesmen who are preoccupied, like their predecessors, primarily with pleasing the missus.

The chief “strategist” is Netanyahu’s older son, who demonstrated his judgment and emotional maturity during his court testimony this week. Disastrously for us, Netanyahu is being advised primarily by those two.

The prime minister wanted to block the appointment of Benny Gantz as justice minister for reasons related to his trial; he would have had no problem continuing to leave this most important ministry with no minister. Another consideration was the fifth election to which he hopes to drag the country. He wasn’t interested in having Gantz in this sensitive ministry until October, at least.

The disgrace is solely his. The collateral victim was Ofir Akunis, the “Beginist,” as he describes himself, with a remarkable lack of awareness. He was eager to lend his body and good name (let’s say) to the attempted political-constitutional putsch, carried out by a shameless, unbridled anarchist.

On Wednesday, gravely offended (one of many people who’ve been so offended by Netanyahu over the years), he boycotted the phone vote on Gantz. What a crisis! What moral value does this appointment have without Akunis’ vote?

Yet despite everything, the most important event on Wednesday was the meeting between Bennett and United Arab List chairman Mansour Abbas.

Finally, Bennett took a leadership step, one considered “brave.” Freed from intimidation by the base’s extreme fringe, he dared to do what the big boss has yet to do.

Until Wednesday, Netanyahu was almost 100 percent convinced that Abbas and his three party colleagues would not facilitate the establishment of a “change” government.

They wouldn’t support it, nor would they abstain in a vote; they would vote against it. But the “good” meeting, as the Yamina chairman described it, made it clear to Netanyahu that Abbas is not in his pocket.

This unique politician is keeping his word. He is soliciting bids for his support. The change camp thus took another significant step toward forming a government. The next few days will be critical.

Source: Yossi Verter – HAARETZ