When Netanyahu totally lost it
Three months ago, the prime minister advanced elections to September 4, and another term was almost a certainty - but then he panicked for some reason, and added Kadima to the government.
The four MKs that are leaving or were kicked out of Kadima play marginal roles in this saga. We’re talking about small, ridiculous, pitiful politicians who are full of themselves. They are backbenchers, and with good reason. Shaul Mofaz said in broad daylight that they would be prepared to sell their values in return for a political bribe. He gave them way too much credit.
Values? What values? The uncouth Yulia Shamalov Berkovich; Otniel Schneller, the professional eye-roller; Avi Duan, an unknown apparatchik who entered the Knesset six months ago after Eli Aflalo resigned; and Arie Bibi, the space cadet? They wouldn’t know what values were even if a carton full was shattered on their head. As far as they’re concerned there’s only one value – and it’s themselves.
There was an attempt to split Kadima in the winter of 2009, but it failed. Those pushing for the split were caught with their pants down. During that last effort, their faction colleague Roni Bar-On described them as cockroaches that scatter as soon as the homeowner turns on the kitchen light.
Well, some of the heroes of the first failed split took part in the second one as well. And just as last time it didn’t come to pass because the bribe being offered didn’t satisfy those people of values, so it happened again. They wouldn’t make do with being deputy minister of nothing but also demanded reserved spots on the Likud list in the next Knesset elections. Did Ms. Y.S. Berkovich think that what Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Moshe Ya’alon didn’t get in 2009, she would get in 2013? Seriously?
But the story here is not about the four, the five or the six that coalesced for a moment and then dissipated, leaving a fierce stench in their wake. The story is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Why did he need to smear his own face with this rotten egg. After all, even if he had succeeded in scraping up seven miserable wretches from someplace, and had plied them with jobs and offices and secretaries on the public’s tab, what would he get out of it? Even with them, he has no majority for Ya’alon’s problematic bill on conscripting the ultra-Orthodox. Even with them, he has no majority to pass a budget. So for what conceivable reason did he spend so many hours in the swamp over this? To be able to adjourn the Knesset for the two-and-a-half month summer recess with another seven dwarfs in his faction?
Netanyahu has totally lost it. Three months ago, in a serious and legitimate political move, he advanced elections to September 4. Another term was more or less assured. But then he panicked for some reason, and with his own hands – again, with his own hands, he is very good at causing all his own problems – he pushed off elections, added Kadima and placed two big landmines on his own doorstep: a replacement for the Tal Law and the state budget. And now, as if he needed more totally unnecessary distress and humiliation, he charged after the Kadima dissidents, encouraged by Tzachi Hanegbi’s promise to bring him a “dowry” that would pave Hanegbi’s way back into the Likud.
Former minister Hanegbi has many political abilities. Prime ministers and other senior people like him. He’s been blessed with level-headedness and has ministerial and parliamentary experience. But while on suspension from the Knesset (after being convicted of perjury in 2010, Hanegbi managed to stir up things in his former party (we can say that already, even though officially he hasn’t left it) in an imbecilic effort to cobble together Netanyahu’s desired dowry. For a moment we’d thought that he’d been weaned from all his foolishness, but – surprise, surprise! – the previous Hanegbi from his Student Union incarnation has reemerged, without an iota of elegance but with a lot of stupidity.
The four MKs mentioned above aren’t worth the Web space or the paper their misdeeds are written on. They’ve turned themselves into political lepers and pariahs, and not a moment too soon. In making a mockery of themselves, they have done Shaul Mofaz an enormous favor: After several difficult weeks for him, in which he entered the government and then pulled out, he seems to have finally regained his vigor. He wasted no time and delivered them the final blow by expelling them from the party.
Mofaz did not mention the fifth deserter, Jacob Edery, who at the last minute got cold feet and retracted his value-laden agreement to serve as chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee. After declaring “the Likud is my home,” he has decided to remain in Kadima, for now.
It seems that Nahman Shai stuck his fingers in the pie as well, in return for being named minister responsible for the Israel Broadcasting Authority. As if during the six months, more or less, that this government has left, he could accomplish anything there.
Apparently he, like Edery, was smart enough to execute a speedy retreat.