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Done Deal — Netanyahu will be Israeli Prime Minister in Unity Government

Done Deal — Netanyahu will be Israeli Prime Minister in Unity Government

“Bibi always wins. The political ‘wizard,’ as Netanyahu is often nicknamed, has done it again.”

The last time we checked in on the dysfunctional Israel elections, it looked like Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud Party had won a sweeping election — the third in a year — which would allow it to put together a right-wing coalition government.

BUT WAIT, then the exit polls were off and the actual results still had Likud in the lead, but without the ability to put together a ruling coalition. A majority of Knesset members said they would back Blue-and-White challenger for Prime Minister Benny Gantz, leading Israel’s President to give Gantz the ‘mandate’ to form a government….

BUT WAIT, that majority backing for Gantz wasn’t what it seemed, because it included an Arab party that opposed the existence of Israel, with whom other parties would not join a coalition, so Gantz had majority support for him to try to form a government, but couldn’t actually form a government ….

BUT WAIT, when it became clear that Gantz couldn’t form a government, he and Netanyahu reached a deal to form a unity government, which was like 10 million years ago ….

BUT WAIT, then the time for Gantz for form a government passed, and Israel faced the possibility of a Fourth election in just over a year ….

BUT WAIT, STOP THE PRESSES, Gantz and Netanyahu have signed a deal for a unity government, with Netanyahu starting out as Prime Minister, then handing the torch in a year and a half to Gantz (like that ever actually will happen).

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Israel will soon have a new coalition government after an agreement was signed on Monday evening between Likud and Blue and White, putting an end to a 17-month political stalemate that resulted in three elections.

As part of the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as caretaker prime minister since December 2018, will remain prime minister for another 18 months and then will be replaced in October 2021 by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will serve as vice prime minister in the meantime. Netanyahu will be vice prime minister under Gantz after that, but if Netanyahu leaves the Prime Minister’s Office sooner, Gantz would already take over….

The Likud and its satellite parties will receive the Finance, Health, Internal Security, Construction, Transportation and Education portfolios. Blue and White will receive the Defense, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Economy, Communications and Culture portfolios. The Knesset speaker will be from Likud.

The government is expected to have 36 ministers and 16 deputies, split equally between the Center-Right and Center-Left. Besides Likud and Blue and White will include Shas, United Torah Judaism and Labor and the Gesher Party of MK Orly Levy-Abecassis.

The deal includes a full embrace of the Trump peace plan, The Times of Israel reports:

For its first six months, the coalition will focus on tackling the pandemic, and will not pass major legislation that does not relate to the crisis. It will also not make major appointments to key positions that require government approval, such as the attorney general and police commissioner. In the course of those six months, the sides will negotiate the platform for the coalition for the rest of its lifespan.

From July 1, 2020, however, Netanyahu will be allowed to have both the government and the Knesset vote on annexing parts of the West Bank, on the basis of the Trump administration’s peace plan. Such a vote would be held “as quickly as possible,” the agreement states, with no delays at the committee stages. Although coalition members will be able to vote as they see fit, the pro-annexation camp in the Knesset is likely to enjoy a majority.

There also is a mechanism to prevent Bibi from pulling a fast one to stay beyond 18 months as Prime Minister, and a poison-pill to prevent the Israeli Supreme Court from ruling that Bibi can’t be Prime Minister, the Times further reports:

The coalition agreement features several complex clauses designed to insure that the prime ministership is indeed handed over as agreed — with provisions intended to prevent Netanyahu maneuvering to avoid transferring the job of prime minister to Gantz — some of which will require new or amended legislation. It is not clear, however, that these clauses are legally enforceable.

Similarly, the agreement features clauses designed to insure that if the High Court of Justice rules that Netanyahu cannot serve as prime minister because of the indictments against him, the Knesset would dissolve, and new elections would be held, with Gantz serving as prime minister during the interim period. Here, too, it is not clear that these clauses are legally enforceable.

Journalist Anshel Pfeffer of left-wing Haaretz expressed the frustration of the anti-Netanyahu press:

Bottom line. Netanyahu failed to win 3 consecutive elections but beat his opponent Gantz by wearing him down. He won through sheer persistence and political guile. This is his personal victory. No one else’s.

Gantz’s “gains” are a tenuous promise to become prime minister in 18 months which even if fulfilled, will at most make him PM of a coalition in which three-quarters of the MKs have no allegiance to him and control of the Justice Ministry (while Netanyahu can veto appointments)

Netanyahu will have to go on trial eventually but he achieved what he set out to do, to still be PM in court. It won’t change the eventual judgment, but it will change the public’s perception of the process and help him to rally his base against the verdict if it goes against him

I’ll quote again Lahav Harkov, a Jerusalem Post reporter, who summed it all up in late March 2020 when the original deal was announced — Bibi always wins:

English soccer player Gary Lineker once famously said “football is a simple game – 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” More than one political commentator tweeted on Thursday afternoon that Israeli politics is a simple game and, you play for 90 minutes and Bibi always wins.

The political “wizard,” as Netanyahu is often nicknamed, has done it again, and this time he has the coronavirus to thank for putting is political career on a respirator that could keep it alive for years to come, even when the crisis passes.

BUT WAIT … this seems too certain, something surely will go wrong. We just don’t know what it is yet.


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notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | April 20, 2020 at 5:02 pm

God bless Israel.

JusticeDelivered | April 20, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Netanyahu and Trump, both winners. Both opposed by royal losers.

Good news as far as I am concerned, at least for the next 18 months. This whole indictment business against Bibi sounds similar what has been tried against President Trump. It is like a mirror type effort pushed by the propagandist media.

I wonder what will actually happen in 18 months, which isn’t all that long a time period. Especially with this Chinese virus shutting things down across the globe while China is profiting from it.

    Milhouse in reply to oldgoat36. | April 20, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Unless he is convicted when his trials come up in a few months. Then he’ll have to resign and Gantz gets to take over early.


The price seems way too high. The left gets control of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and above all Justice. At least the execrable Nissenkern will not get his paws on whatever’s left of the economy; instead he will “only” be in charge of the DOJ. Small comfort that.

The right, with 53 MKs (59 if Yamina joins) gets 16 ministers, and the left, with 19 MKs, also gets 16! (I wonder which 3 will be without! Oh, never mind, I see now that they’ll use the “Norwegian Law” to pad their numbers.)

Basically a new election would have been better than this, but only if Netanyahu could have contrived not to be seen as the one who brought it on. If he could have made it look like Gantz’s fault, or Lieberman’s, or anyone else’s, he would probably have done very well the 4th time round (though of course this can never be predicted). But that proved impossible, and having the election blamed on him would have been very very bad, so he ended up having to cave in on so much in order to save something out of the situation.

Next up, in a few months when the courts reopen, his series of criminal trials, on charges that make no sense and could not have been brought in almost any other democratic country.

@milhouse The fact that Gantz got Justice Ministry is not too high a price. A 4th election would have been a disaster for Israel. And I say this as a Yamina voter, who made aliya more than 10 years ago and lives in a yishuv (small town in Samaria.)

The most disgraceful thing about this government is that it is huge – 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers. That’s 52 people getting huge salaries and benefits payed by the taxpayer, while the rest of the country is suffering with the lockdown we have had for over a month. Small businesses are collapsing, people are literally starving, the government is not allowing many people to work and is giving almost no benefits to all these people. I have heard of people committing suicide over this. And the politicians just give themselves more money at our expense.

I used to be a Bibi supporter, although I voted for more right wing parties, but he has lost me over this. I understand why the government initiated the initial lockdown, but this situation is not sustainable and is devastating people. And I blame Bibi.

    Milhouse in reply to cp. | April 21, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    CP, I have never been a Bibi fan, at least not since he embraced Oslo after the Rabin assassination. People here on LI adore him. I get lots of downvotes here every time I point out that he is a complete squish, what we in America call a RINO. I’m a Feiglin supporter; at first I was concerned because all his talk of “leadership” reminded me too much of classical fascism, but his stint in the Knesset convinced me that he’s a genuine libertarian. Unfortunately the voters are idiots, and that dream is over. Feiglin will never amount to much, because the voters are too stupid to support him.

    But while you’re 100% right about the current disaster I don’t blame Bibi; I don’t see how anyone else could have done better, and I certainly don’t see anyone else who would have done better. Probably not even Feiglin, though that would have been interesting to see.