Analysis

Lieberman Must Be Prime Minister for Netanyahu's Crisis to Be Resolved

The animosity between the two is of no importance

File photo: Then-Defense Minister and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Gaza border communities, 2018.
Haim Hornstein

I don’t know who is the go-between conducting the negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman in the attempt to solve the political crisis and form a new, stable right-wing government. But if such a negotiator exists, here is a guess as to the proposal he will place in front of them to prevent the dissolution of the Knesset and a new round of elections:

- Yisrael Beiteniu will be integrated into Likud as a separate division, with veto power in the party’s institutions.

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- Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for two years, after which Lieberman will replace him.

- At the end of Netanyahu’s term in the summer of 2021, he will be the candidate of the right and the ultra-Orthodox parties for president.

- The Knesset will pass, during its coming session, the immunity bill and the Supreme Court override bill, which will prevent Netanyahu from standing trial. It will also cancel the planned pre-indictment hearing and the need for financing for his legal defense.

- Lieberman will serve for the next two years as defense minister, and all security or strategic decisions will be made in agreement between him and Netanyahu.

- Lieberman will be the Likud candidate for prime minister in the next Knesset election without the need for a primary.

- This agreement will be approved by Likud's internal institutions, and any change will require a special 80-90 percent majority.

- All coalition parties will commit themselves to supporting this agreement.

- The Haredi Draft Law will be sent for further discussion and Lieberman will be appointed the head of a special ministerial committee on the law that will be authorized to set the draft quotas for the ultra-Orthodox.

- U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will release statements supporting the agreement, saying the rotation for the prime minister's post is beneficial for Israel and the stability in the region.

- After becoming prime minister, Lieberman can offer Kahol Lavan co-founder Benny Gantz to join his government, appointing Gantz defense minister.

This deal meets the needs of both parties perfectly: Netanyahu wants immunity and Lieberman wants to replace him as prime minister. The mutual disgust, accusations and insulting headline that appeared in Israel Hayom, the freebie daily newspaper controlled by Sheldon Adelson – the U.S. billionaire and backer of Netanyahu – against Lieberman on Monday are of no importance.

Tomorrow, they can write in the paper that he is great, tough, the answer to the left and that he is the king of Israel. When they ask him, he will say that Pravda changed from the days of Stalin to those of Brezhnev – or some other joke, as usual.

There is no real disagreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman on any issue. They have cooperated successfully in the past and could do so again now. The Haredim will say Birkat Hagomel (the blessing of deliverance) over the deal for having been saved and will be happy the crisis has ended with the government ministries in their hands and the budgets flowing to their voters. The Draft Law will be returned to the waste of time department.

The gang of grim figures known as the “senior Likud politicians” will swallow the bitter pill, more like an elephant sized one, and won’t rebel. Only as a precaution, the agreement will have provisions to prevent Gideon Sa’ar, Yisrael Katz, Gilad Erdan and Yuli Edelstein from blocking the deal in the future. They will only be able to see the prime ministership and presidency from a distance and will continue to hope for a miracle that will move them to the center stage.

The opposition will speak out against it, but will be held in check by the chance to get the defense portfolio later on, after Netanyahu and his immunity move out of the way, no longer obstructing a unity government.

The right is just in its contempt for Kahol Lavan, which did not jump at the opportunity of dissolving the Knesset, voted against it and exposed its fear and weakness – even though it was clear that under no circumstances would President Reuven Rivlin give Gantz the task of forming the new government.