Analysis

Netanyahu's New Conspiracy Theory Borders on Psychosis

If Netanyahu decided against moving up the elections it's not because President Rivlin or former Likud minister Sa'ar is out to get him, but rather to avoid coinciding with an indictment that might lose him the elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations General Assembly in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 24, 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

The Prime Minister’s Office has been working hard for a long time, using its close confederates, to plant the story in the media of a putsch being put together by President Reuven Rivlin against Benjamin Netanyahu. Lacking any evidence, logic, practicality or even the most wobbly of legs to stand on, no one could be found to buy these worthless, rancid goods. It was rejected out of hand and returned to sender.

Today, the story was put out of its misery. Netanyahu’s own trumpet, Israel Hayom, came out in its main headline attributing to Netanyahu the decision to reverse his position on moving up the Knesset elections because of “fears concerning Rivlin.”

The quick response from the President’s Residence attributed a mental illness – paranoia – to he who feared, giving him a referral for psychiatric treatment, was violent and jaw-dropping. Rivlin long ago lost his patience for political spin, lies and tricks that those surrounding Netanyahu have been pullilng against him, and in general. Rivlin has decided to nip this stupidity while it is still in the bud. In the Prime Minister’s Office, they panicked. They realized that this could be just an appetizer.

In a split-second, the missile changed direction: It wasn’t born in the President’s Residence, Netanyahu’s cronies dissembled, but by a “former senior Likud official” – in other words, Gideon Sa’ar, who allegedly spoke with someone who heard from someone else. Sa’ar quickly put out a flat denial.

This is truly the type of story that is hard to deal with using rational tools because it is so obviously absurd. The thought that Rivlin, the No. 1 democrat in the country, would start a revolt against the will of the people in the elections and grant Sa’ar the mandate to establish the next government, just because they are friends while Rivlin and Bibi are at each other’s throats, is more than paranoia. It is full psychosis. True insanity.

The Israel Hayom freebie newspaper is known for loyally echoing Netanyahu’s messages. If the story is true that Netanyahu decided not to move up the elections to February or March of next year, then his motive is not related to the conspiracy theory about Rivlin-Sa’ar stealing the Prime Minister’s Office from him. It lies in the end of the investigative process for Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla case, and the statements attributed to senior law enforcement officials – that this time the speed with which the decision is made whether to put the suspect Netanyahu on trial will surprise everyone involved – as reported by Guy Peleg Wednesday evening on Israel Television News.

What is evident from these events is that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit may very well make the initial decision on an indictment, yes or no, in the next few months. At the beginning of 2019. If the elections are moved forward, according to Netanyahu’s original plan, to February or March, then Mendelblit’s decision will fall during the height of the election campaign.

There is no doubt that the decision will be released, including materials from the investigation. The public will need to know who they may be about to vote for. Assuming that Netanyahu will be charged with accepting bribes in one or more cases, his chances of winning again will drop. Even if Likud, with him at its head, comes out as the largest party in the Knesset, it is very doubtful whether they will find partners who will agree to join forces with a prime minister charged with accepting bribes. It is possible he will not be able to form a government.

In this scenario, early elections are a two-edged sword. It would be better from Netanyahu’s perspective for him to stay in the job for as long as possible, arrive as prime minister at the hearing with the attorney general over filing an indictment, and try to reach a deal that would save him from prison in return for his retirement from political life. Not Rivlin and not Sa’ar, the two demons, bother him at the moment, only the tidings that come from Mendelblit’s office – and maybe sooner than later.