Opinion

Life After Netanyahu

Israeli Kahol Lavan political alliance leader Benny Gantz gives a statement after the dissolution of the Knesset in Tel Aviv on December 12, 2019.
Ariel Schalit,AP

Someday in the not-too-distant future it’s going to happen: Benjamin Netanyahu will no longer be prime minister. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west the same as always but for many Israelis, perhaps for most, it will be one of the greatest days of their lives. A day of leaving the path of darkness and embracing the light, moving from slavery to freedom, the dawn of a new day, something between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

A new government will arise, a national unity government. It will realize the wishes of most Israelis. It will be  headed by Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar, or both of them in rotation, and a new and promising chapter will be opened in the annals of Israeli history. “We’ll change henceforth the old tradition. And spurn the dust to win the prize.”

We shall establish a new world, nothing like yesterday/tomorrow – we’ll have everything.”A sigh of relief will be heard from one side of the country to the other. Osnat Hagi, the kindergarten teacher who took down Netanyahu’s picture, will hasten to hang up a photograph of the new prime minister in her kindergarten classroom, to which she shall be permitted to return.

The first days there will be a lot of light-headedness. If Gantz becomes prime minister, and that’s the option that we seem to be looking at, he will reach out to Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him. They will meet and exchange smiles, Israeli and Palestinian flags will flap in the background.

Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu listens to parliament member Gideon Sa'ar during a faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, February 11, 2009.
AP

The bells of peace will be in the offing. Defense Minister Sa’ar will threaten to leave the coalition. Gantz will propose setting up a mechanism for dialogue and a timetable. He will commit to a united Jerusalem remaining forever a part of Israel, in addition to the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs,  including Ariel and Peduel, and will propose to Abbas that Israel issue tens of thousands more work permits. The European Union will issue a special welcome note to the prime minister-elect, the White House shall also embrace him.

Gantz and Sa’ar will fly to Washington for getting acquainted meetings where they will be regaled with compliments and expressions of hope. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will again stand in a European plaza and lead a chorus a band of prime ministersreciting, “We love Israel.” And the person sucking up to the choir and  prime ministers and foreign ministers will all line up to visit Jerusalem and feast their eyes on one of the wonders of the world: An Israeli prime minister who is not Netanyahu.

Everyone will say the time has come to revive the peace process.

There will be new winds blowing at home, too. The prime minister will pledge to put an end to attacks on the justice system, the Arabs and the media. Netanyahu’s trial will be conducted swiftly. Many Israelis will feel as though they are getting their country back, the one they loved, took pride in, the one that was taken from them. Gantz will visit Rabin’s grave, Sa’ar will place a note in the Western Wall. Yediot Ahronot, a newspaper loyal only to its readers, will publish a photograph of the new government. A new and wondrous world awaits.

And then the days will pass. Gaza will again be forgotten – the new prime minister, Gantz or Sa’ar, will have no intention off ending the siege of the enclave, and so Gaza will have to remind everyone of its existence in the only way it can. Qassam rockets will crash into the south. The new prime minister who will have to prove himself, Gantz as a non-leftist, Sa’ar as a general – will convene the security cabinet. It will be a new security cabinet, one that doesn’t only chatter. The results will come swiftly: Operation Foundation of Our Existence shall be launched with aerial strikes and a ground incursion. Thousands will die. The world will be silent, because Netanyahu is no longer the prime minister and the new one has to be given a chance.

Hezbollah won’t sit by idly. The new prime minister, who has to prove himself, will also strike in Lebanon. Finally Israel will have a prime minister who also takes action. Thousands will be killed, Abbas will cancel  the summit. The world will start getting angry. There will  be a plea deal in the Netanyahu trial. Arab citizens attending solidarity protests with their brothers in Gaza and Lebanon will be shot by the police at the order of the new minister for public security, Avigdor Lieberman, the hero of the left.

The legal system will resume its shenanigans as a cursed slave of the security apparatus and the settlers, while acting reasonably in all other matters. You’ll have to reserve a table at a good restaurant in Tel Aviv at least two weeks ahead of time, while electric scooters will run down the elderly and traffic jams will be constant, like always. Netanyahu will begin to serve his sentence. 

Doubts will begin to gnaw away in our hearts: What in essence has actually changed? 

The new prime minister, who has to prove himself, will also strike in Lebanon. Finally Israel will have a prime minister who also takes action.