TLR 189- Netanyahu’s Last Hurrah
January 10, 2019
In a matter of weeks, Israeli politics has swung from somnolent to frenetic. It now requires considerable effort just to keep up with the daily news of who is doing what — forming new parties, leaving old ones, creating or destroying alliances. Yet the polls — which no-one believes, yet everyone reads and quotes — have remained consistent regarding the most important aspect of the campaign, namely the winner: they say that Netanyahu is on course for another victory, which will enable him to choose his partners in the next government.
Is this, therefore, a severe case of “much ado about nothing”? After the explosion of activity, when the dust settles, will things be much the same as they were? The answer is shaping up to be a definite “no”, irrespective of the actual results of the election.
We have finally arrived at a watershed in Israeli political history — but it is not the election that is the key event. At most, the election is the proximate cause for the current surge of activity by old and new players and parties. The seminal event is the imminent arrival of the post-Netanyahu era, which the election seems to have hastened but has not caused.
The theme now dominating Israeli politics is what happens after Netanyahu departs the scene — because this is now regarded as inevitable. It may come before the election or after, but the consensus view across the political system is that it will happen this year, probably in the first half. It had sometimes seemed that this day would never come, but it is now imminent.
This issue of TLR is therefore focused on the big event — Netanyahu’s impending departure/ removal — rather than on the lesser event of the general election on April 9. Nevertheless, the starting point is how and why the coalition fell, forcing the elections to be called at this juncture. From there it traces the main moves made to date by senior politicians and party leaders — trying to penetrate the confusion to see where the upheavals might be leading.
From the point of view of all the politicians and parties, there are now two distinct challenges: the need to do as well as possible in the election and then to translate that outcome into a position of strength in what will prove to be an entirely new political environment that will emerge after the elections. As usual, Dylan put it best:
B: Domestic Politics
- The dam breaks
- The bursting of the Bibi bubble begins
- The great re-alignment looms
- Going, but not gone
- Wait! There’s more…