Netanyahu Fantasizes Aloud About Next Coaltion

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the winter session of Knesset. October 27, 2014

As the 19th Knesset opens what will presumably be its last session, what have we learned?

- That Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already fantasizing aloud, unconcerned, about his next coalition, which will include the Habayit Hayehudi party and the religious parties, his natural partners. He sees Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid as merely crutches designed to help him hobble into his seventh year on the job.

- That the head of the opposition, Isaac Herzog, who is – to put it mildly - terrified of unflattering polls, took off his gloves, bared his teeth and went on the attack, something like: "Bibi, you're afraid! You are detached!"

In other words, Herzog acted just like Shaul Mofaz, Shelly Yachimovich and Livni herself before him. They did not become premier but they did garner some headlines.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin speaks during a memorial ceremony at Kafr Qasem on October 26, 2014.Credit: AFP

- And that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has not lost hope that the legislators will behave tolerantly and patiently and will mind their manners.

Netanyahu no longer hides his political preferences. On Monday, he strode up to the podium and gave a nationalistic and patriotic speech that seems to have been written by Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi).

A few hours previously he'd taken a hit in the Constitutional Law and Justice Committee. Contrary to his wishes and despite his pressure, the panel passed MK Elazar Stern's (Hatnua) original conversion law to its second and third readings.

Now, Netanyahu is trying to reverse the conversion wheel and bring a softer version of the law to a vote in the government, thus sucking up to the esteemed Aryeh Deri of Shas and Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, both of United Torah Judaism.

Thus far nothing much unpredictable has happened. The only surprise was in President Reuven Rivlin's first speech to the Knesset, three months into his term. If he continues like this, we will soon forget that Shimon Peres served before him.

Rivlin put aside the pomposity and formality, the high words and nanotech mumbo-jumbo, and spoke of the here and now in the State of Israel: the extreme brutality of Israeli societal discourse and the hatred of and intolerance toward minorities – Arabs, Africans and religiously Orthodox Jews.

The president also dared to attend the Kafr Qasem memorial ceremony and convey his sorrow for the massacre committed there in 1956. The talkbacks to Rivlin's remarks were pathetic: "Go be a president in Gaza"; "traitor"; "president of Hezbollah." And these remarks are now part of the Knesset's records.

By placing these libelous remarks in the record, Rivlin again put a mirror to Israeli society, pointing downhill. A month ago, he participated in an online video together with a young boy who'd been bullied at school.

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