Anyone but Bibi

Haaretz Editorial
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on November 3, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on November 3, 2019.Credit: AFP
Haaretz Editorial

Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, is exploiting his 15 minutes of fame to the hilt. On Monday he even permitted himself to present an ultimatum to Kahol Lavan and Likud: If by tomorrow at noon you can’t reach an agreement on principle over a national unity government and sign off on its main points, then “It’s every man for himself.”

Kahol Lavan must not surrender to Lieberman’s dictates. There is no question that a third general election in one year is undesirable, but the possibility of a national unity government that includes Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fueled by incitement, is the worst option of all. To Netanyahu’s “credit” it should be said that he is doing everything in his power to remind the public of who he is and the poisonous materials from which another government headed by him would be composed.

At a caucus of the Knesset members representing the parties of the national camp that he held Monday, not only did he fail to lower the flames, he repeated his accusations against the legislators of the four predominantly Arab parties the make up the Joint List. He once again dubbed them “terror supporters,” again claimed that they can veto “activities that are critical to the security of Israel’s citizens,” once again spoke about “a genuine danger to the State of Israel” and again mentioned the anticipated celebrations “in Ramallah and in Tehran too.”

The heads of Kahol Lavan, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, did the right thing when they firmly opposed Netanyahu’s words about the MKs of the Joint List. “The attack against them in the past two days must stop. You, Netanyahu, must immediately retract your words,” said Gantz. Lapid did a good job of calling a spade a spade: “What has been emerging from Netanyahu’s mouth in recent days is incitement to violence, it’s texts of the disciples of Baruch Goldstein. It will end badly, he knows, he was there. If there’s violence, it’s Bibi.”

But statements and gestures are insufficient. This is Netanyahu, the man whose lust for rule caused him to lose all restrain and to trample every value; a ruler who is willing to burn down the house in order to save his own seat; a malicious, unfettered prime minister, who without batting an eyelash removes around one-fifth of Israel’s citizens from the camp while making targets of their elected officials; a man whose does not keep his word.

Benjamin Netanyahu is 70. His character traits and his behavior are well-known to anyone who has worked with him, and to the public in general. He won’t change as a result of the reprimands of the leaders of Kahol Lavan or of any other politician. The only thing that can and should be done is to tell him, “We’ve had enough.” Even at the cost of a third election. The leaders of Kahol Lavan promised not to join Netanyahu, and Netanyahu has only provided them with a wealth of additional reasons to keep their promise to their voters.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.