Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's survival skills were again put to the test yesterday; If Israeli politics were a reality show, the prime minister certainly would have advanced to the next round.
Within five hours he managed to maneuver among the justice minister, foreign minister and defense minister, leaving all of them in his camp and elegantly evading the volatile issue that had threatened to rock his cabinet, the matter of splitting the the attorney general's job. Part of Netanyahu's maneuver will cost money, but everyone knows that even "Survivor" is a high-budget production.
The selection committee for a new attorney general arrived at the prime minister's office yesterday with the feeling that Netanyahu would not express an opinion on the matter, but they couldn't imagine how right they would be.
In a reference to Justice Minster Yaakov Neeman, the prime minister told them "Yankele here is pushing the matter," adding "but I am not dealing with it."
Until yesterday Neeman had thought he was working in coordination with the prime minister. Yesterday he found out that Netanyahu was not at all involved in the matter.
As Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz had found out previously, Neeman discovered that Netanyahu is not someone to run with, certainly not long-distance, and certainly not when the stability of the coalition is at stake. At the moment of truth, Netanyahu always chooses his coalition partners and walks over his own party's ministers without batting an eye.
That's what Steinitz learned regarding the budget and the imposition of value added tax on fruits and vegetables and that's what Neeman learned on the issue of splitting the authority of the attorney general.
Neeman may or may not have been surprised, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak wasn't. Barak discovered the power of weakness yesterday and Neeman discovered the limitations of power. And Avigdor Lieberman discovered what he has really known for a long time: that the language that Netanyahu understands, in addition to English and Hebrew, is the language of threats.
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