After the fourth election in two years and the ever-more-likely departure of Benjamin Netanyahu as the country’s prime minister, the situation in Israel is becoming increasingly volatile – and Netanyahu himself is once again pouring fuel on the fire.
Netanyahu faces nothing less than the loss of power on Sunday after 12 years in office, but he is not inclined to accept the latest development of a variety of opponents joining hands against him.
Instead, he is putting massive pressure on Knesset members so they do not vote for a new government by mobilising his supporters, who have been gathering in front of the houses of lawmakers for demonstrations and intimidation efforts.
These next few days will show whether the Netanyahu era is indeed over. Since the planned government alliance with Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett only has a slim majority of 61 of the 120 seats in parliament, every day counts.
Netanyahu and his Likud party’s efforts to find defectors among the coalition forces is the latest example of “King Bibi” and his quest for power.
Ironically, it was Netanyahu who made the next government possible by passing a new law and by ending the tradition of not entering talks with Arab parties, said Donna Robinson Divine, professor of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College.
Machiavellian power plays
It has become a reoccurring theme in Israeli politics. For years Netanyahu utilised all kinds of political shenanigans and Machiavellian power plays to remain the country’s prime minister. However, Israel has paid for it dearly. Politically, Israel has been paralysed. Even the most basic government responsibilities have been put on hold, Divine said.
“Netanyahu found ways to impose four elections in two years on Israel, with the country having to operate without a budget for the last two,” she noted.
Socially, the country is deeply divided, essentially into pro and anti-Netanyahu camps.
The head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, warned of political violence and asked all those involved to disarm verbally.