Israeli Politics Update: The Sharks Smell Blood

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Israel's Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu (R), leader of the Israel Beiteinu party Avigdor Liberman (C) and Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar present their joint campaign prior to the Israeli elections, in Rishon LeZion on January 10, 2013. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/Flas90

JERUSALEM(VINnews) — Road no.1, the main artery connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, was predictably blocked on Monday afternoon. However the reason for the traffic jam was unusual on this occasion. A cavalcade of motorcars bearing flags and signs “Netanyahu, resign” wended its way slowly down the right lane in a demonstration of its frustration and exasperation over the political impasse for whom they hold the indicted prime minister responsible.

This ad hoc demonstration was only one of numerous attempts to garner public support for the left-wing attempts to dislodge Netanyahu. So far the demonstrations, which may well have influenced the attorney-general’s decision last Thursday to indict Netanyahu on counts of bribery, corruption and breach of trust, have yet to significantly impact the political situation in Israel. In the vacuum created by the failure to establish a government, Netanyahu remains the elected prime minister if only a caretaker at present, and attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit stressed Monday that he cannot be forced to resign. However it remains to be seen whether Mandelblit will allow Netanyahu to form another government even in the unlikely event that he wins what looks like yet another election.

Likud MK Gidon Sa’ar is convinced that Netanyahu’s legal woes have crippled his ability to form a government. Sa’ar has gone as far as saying that in his present situation, the prime minister is a burden on the country since he is the reason a government cannot be formed. He has therefore requested instant primaries in the Likud so that if he wins he could have a chance of forming a government before the end of the 21-day period allowing for any member of Knesset to attempt to form a government and thus prevent a gratuitous election which is unlikely anyway to break the deadlock.

Sa’ar may have overstepped politically. Netanyahu still enjoys a huge power base within the Likud which regardless of the serious charges levelled against him is convinced that he is not just innocent but also an asset for the party. Over a decade of Netanyahu’s sole leadership in Israel has established him both as the longest-serving prime minister and as the most successful one. The spectacular economic growth in Israel coupled with the unprecedented diplomatic coups during the Trump era can in a large part be attributed to Netanyahu. Likewise the decision by the US administration to abrogate the nuclear agreement with Iran is directly due to Netanyahu’s diplomatic lobbying in his capacity as foreign minister.

Yet despite this Sa’ar’s initiative is a strong sign that the sharks are smelling blood. Unlike Amir Peretz, Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz and Avigdor Liberman who called for Netanyahu’s resignation this week, Sa’ar cannot be accused of being left-wing. A diehard member of the Likud and former education minister, Sa’ar took a break from politics a few years ago to spend more time with his family. When he returned, he found himself in the political wilderness, shunned by Netanyahu and his associates for merely having the political potential to replace him. Unlike some other Likud leaders, Sa’ar is confident, charismatic and capable. He keeps Shabbat and maintains a traditional lifestyle but is also a member of the Tel Aviv secular elite and is married to TV anchor Geula Even. Thus Sa’ar is favored by the religious parties but may also make inroads into Blue-And-White’s voter base and his mutiny is even more painful to Netanyahu than the baying of his other political opponents. As Julius Caesar would have said, “Et Tu Sa’ar?”

Sa’ar’s position is totally logical. The prime minister has failed twice to form a government and there is no reason to believe that he will succeed at the third attempt. Yet what Sa’ar has underestimated is not just the internal Likud support for Netanyahu but also the support of his coalition partners. In the past two months, the 55-member right-wing bloc formed by Netanyahu immediately after the election has held firm despite numerous attempts to breach it. The present legal predicament of Netanyahu has resonated with all of his right-wing colleagues who have suffered immeasurably from the tendentious approach of the state prosecutor and his cronies.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri is himself a victim as well as an inveterate foe of the judicial system in Israel. After he was hounded for eight years in the nineties on charges of corruption, Deri was sent to jail on the testimony of a state witness who even the judge agreed was a liar. Even now he is frequently questioned about his financial dealings. Similarly UTJ leader Yaakov Litzman has been accused of using his influence to unfairly help a person accused of serious crimes escape extradition to Israel. Litzman categorically denies having committed any offence.

New Right leader Naftali Bennett owes his allegiance to Netanyahu, who recently appointed him Defense Minister. Likewise, his colleague Ayelet Shaked attempted as justice minister to reform the judiciary’s anti-right-wing slant. After the Supreme Court arbitrarily ruled to destroy flourishing neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria even though their ostensible owners had not been located, Shaked initiated the Regulation Law to prevent such actions.

National Union leader Betzalel Smotrich and Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz have also expressed on numerous occasions their opinions about the inherent bias of the legislative institutions. Thus, all of Netanyahu’s right-wing partners see his legal difficulties as an opportunity to lambast the state prosecutor and accuse him of fomenting a political putsch by indicting an incumbent prime minister on flimsy evidence. None of these partners are perturbed by Sa’ar’s salient points, since new elections do not faze them but rather the thought that Israel is a judicial dictatorship.

The right-wing parties have gone as far as convening a demonstration in support of Netanyahu in central Tel Aviv. The demonstration drew an estimated 15,000 people, meaning that the battle lines have already been drawn for the third election. The political stalemate however will most likely continue until either the judiciary is compromised or the prime minister is found guilty. Expect further developments.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. So Deri and Litzman are constantly investigated and attacked. Same with Olmert whom I am not a fan of . So is the system really not corupt whereby there is a witch hunt against every democratliclly elected leader till we find a gottcha moment ? Sounds like a threat to basic democracy

  2. Sounds like the best system in the world b”h. 50 years ago it was a 3rd world country in poverty. Today one of the wealthiest and smartest in the World. #2 in Technology #4 in Medicine etc. Great system (Yes Bibi gets a lot of credit) Partly socialist, partly Capitalist. SOCIAL MEDICINE for all. Children get immediate stipend upon birth. . The life expectancy is 3 years higher than in the USA. a lot of credit goes to the Russian 1 million recent immigrants. Highly educated and motivated. (unfortunatly mostly Chilonim) They did not succeed in Russia’s system (No matter how much you and T love it) In Israel they helped turn the Country to a world Power. The best Justice system in the world. We need to learn from it. PM, President are not kings. They do the crime they should do the time.

    • I laugh every time I read your hyper ridiculous comments.

      #4 in Medicine : Ask all the shnorers in shul who come to the USA for tzarchai refua and cancer treatment. if isreal is so great why are they here?And why do they need money if health care is free? What about kids that need threapy, long term care etc.. all the goodies you want here. You think they have that over there?

      You like the tax system there? Can anyone just be a regular accountant making 100K there? No bec taxes are so high. The average middle class is non existent there. Its a tale of two cities in israel. No such thing as middle class. A car has a 100% vat tax. You can’t own a basic necessity. Thats what socialim does. The rich exploit and middle class get taxed their brains out. Thats why charedim can’t contribute. It doesn’t “pay” to work”

      Life expectancy higher? Shkoyach. Let me tell you a secret. The life expectancy in the USA actually went down and is not doing good. But you have to use your brains. Do you think you can put your math cap on? Are will you yell and scream wrongful nonsense like your tax cuts rants? Ok so lets see if you brain can halt kup. Now why is the life expectancy so bad in the USA? Is it due to poor health care? For that we go to the CDC website and we break down the details. Let’s see deaths from cancer? Way down thanks to our second to none first calss health care. Deaths from heart attacks? way down once again thanks to our helath care.
      Deaths from drugs? Way up thanks to your buddies in mexico. Deaths from suicide way up. Yidden BH are generally more stable and happier even many traditional jews. thus israel doesn;t suffer from this sucide epedmic as much. So now ask your self, is our life expectancy worse because of our health care? NO.

      Love that rusky line. Now you like the ruskies? So let trump get some hlep from them. They contribute to society. Let the USA forge an alliance with ruskies.

      Best justice system in the world? laughable. more like most corrupt

      • “I laugh” B”H this alone is worth my posts I can make a Yid laugh. Where are you getting that I love the Ruskies? What I pointed out is the 1 million Russishe Yiden in Israel helped building a first class economy in a Great and fair system of justice unlike they were worthless in Russia because the system is corrupt. Can you name a single Great First Class Corporation or Product made in Russia? No. How about in Israel. Many

    • The life expectancy of Israeli Jews is lower than that of American Jews, since Americans Jews have a much lower level of smoking, than Israeli Jews have. In Israel, there is not one hotel in the entire country, where the ENTIRE hotel is smoke free (not just the rooms, but the hotel in its entirety).

  3. “Deri and Litzman” Hm?? The most corrupt in Israel, even more than Bibi. They were and are part of the Government. Voted for give back Gush Katif to Hamas. They vote for money plain and poset. They have no problem with abortion (Legal in Israel) as long they get paid for their stusim. There is no Govt in Israel for the simple Reason The arabs and the Chareidim are anti Zionist. Together they are 35% of the population. It looks like in the future the rest of the normal hard working tax paying Israelis will get together and form the Govt without them. Did anyone wonder that the Jewish State of Israel with its Chieff Rabbinat and Religious Partys in control of the Govt in the past 20 years or more has allowed ABORTION in Israel even in the 9th month? Our Trumpist Evangelist Friends with a few Orthodox (Paid by the evangelists) are against abortion since Trump said so even in the first semester, rape etc even in States like Mississippi, Louisiana where no Orthodox lives. It OK in Jerusalem with a Agudaah/Shas Govt, Chieff Rabbinate but its not OK in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Why are the frumme so corrupt here.? Ah? I forgot its only white color crime like robbing a bank with empty box.?

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