What Defendant Netanyahu Really Wants

Haaretz Editorial
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Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Ben-Gurion International Airport on August 17, 2020.
Haaretz Editorial

The only thing that interests Benjamin Netanyahu is Benjamin Netanyahu. All his moves, statements and threats must be examined through this lens: how they serve his personal survival as prime minister.

His insistence on passing a one-year budget wasn’t related to economic considerations. If he had thought of the good of the state, he would have supported passing a two-year budget, which would ensure greater stability at a time of an acute economic crisis. Exacerbating the budget crisis was meant to give him an escape hatch from the coalition agreement he had signed with Kahol Lavan, under which Netanyahu was to vacate his seat as prime minister to Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz.

Now Netanyahu, with the help of his loyal envoy Miki Zohar, wants to torpedo the bill calling to put off the budget approval, which would grant the government 100 more days to ratify it. He is doing so by raising brazen demands, such as Kahol Lavan’s consent to transfer hundreds of millions of shekels to yeshivas and adding an “exit point” every 10 days to enable him to cancel the budget delay and therefore dissolve the Knesset.

Again, Netanyahu isn’t thinking of Israel’s political and economic stablility but of his personal interest, which as usual involves buttering up his eternal partners Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as setting up a permanent threat of an election.

But even the current crisis is merely a smoke screen meant to conceal what Netanyahu really wants – to extract himsef from the legal entanglement he’s in, which could land him behind lock and key. So we must take seriously the report in Israel Hayom, the Netanyahu family’s private journal, saying that the prime minister is willing to give up the one-year budget – and consequently an election – in exchange for appointing the police commissioner and attorney general of his choice.

As a defendant charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, not only is Netanyahu incapable of running a country, but he certainly isn’t supposed to decide on the gatekeepers who have the slightest bearing on his legal fate. Kahol Lavan leaders may have betrayed their voters when they agreed to join the government of the defendant Netanyahu, but now they must stand like a wall and oppose this crazy, delusional notion, even at the price of holding another election round.

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

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