Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made one last effort to form a new coalition government and avert early elections. On Saturday evening, Dec. 6, 2014 Netanyahu met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who also chairs the Yisrael Beytenu Party at his home in the Nokdim settlement. According to reports by Yedioth Ahronoth published on Sunday morning, Dec. 7 Netanyahu was trying to convince Liberman to agree that the Ultra-Orthodox, Haredi parties be allowed to join the coalition. Making an alternative coalition before Monday, Dec. 8 when the Knesset would be passing the second and third reading of the bill to dissolve. Liberman refused and now the Prime Minister’s Office is denying that the meeting was about the coalition at all.
A source close to Liberman said that the Foreign Minister will not now or in the future agree to a coalition with the Haredim, saying, “Liberman is a man of his word, and if Liberman said that it’s either this coalition or elections, then there is no chance that there will be something else.” Netanyahu supposedly offered Liberman the position of Defense Minister in exchange for admitting two ultra-Orthodox parties to the coalition. According to Israeli media, Liberman seemed more open to the deal on Friday, Dec. 5 when the reports first surfaced about an attempt to save the coalition.
Netanyahu wants to delay the Knesset dissolution vote, mostly because early polls are not looking too good for him. Still after the failure of a meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement denying Netanyahu’s intentions to form a new coalition instead of having elections. Their statement read; “There is no limit to the spin of the left-wing parties. The vote for the dissolution of the Knesset will be held as planned on Monday, and elections for the Knesset will be held on March 17.”
This is the not the first rumor this week surrounding Netanyahu trying to build a coalition, and of back room negotiations going into the almost inevitable upcoming election season. Yesh Atid, former fired Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s party, accused Netanyahu are trying to break up the party’s loyalty to keep some members in the coalition. Depending on reports former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is either going to join forces with leftist Isaac Herzog’s Labor Party or centrist Lapid’s Yesh Atid for the upcoming elections. Meanwhile on the right Netanyahu and Economy Minister and Chair of Bayot Yehudi Party Naftali Bennett have agreed not to attack each other in the campaign, hoping to be coalition partners in the next government.
That all depends on if Netanyahu will win the election although early polls see Netanyahu’s Likud Party leading in the number of seats, there is a distinct “anybody but Bibi” theme to the election. Besides national security, the election will definitely be a referendum on the current prime minister who has served this time round six years in a row as Israel’s leader. Channel 2 published a poll on Saturday, which found that 65 percent of Israeli do not want Netanyahu to be prime minister after the elections, with only 30 percent wanting him to continue in his post. Meanwhile in the said poll only 36 percent say he is “the best suited candidate for the post of prime minister.” The numbers correspond with a poll earlier in the week in a poll for The Jerusalem Post and Ma’ariv Sof Hashavua. In that poll released on Friday, 60 percent of Israelis do not want Netanyahu to “remain” as prime minister after the election, while 34 percent want him to continue in the post.
Besides all the back room deals, there is a lot against Netanyahu. Herzog is campaigning hard to be prime minister already declaring his party will win the election and he will be the “next prime minister.” United States President Barack Obama does not want Netanyahu to be prime minister again either, the dislike and distrust runs deep. Obama is trying to influence the upcoming election, Aaron David Miller recounted this in his Daily Beast article, published on Thursday, Dec. 4 entitled; “Anybody But Bibi The Inside Story of U.S. Meddling in Israel’s Elections.” The administration is also considering sanctions against Israel for the construction in East Jerusalem and the settlements as a way to manipulate results. Surprisingly, the report about treating their close ally like Iran or Russia, came only a day after the US Congress unanimously passed the “United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014” on Wednesday, Dec. 3, a bill although watered down, strengthens Israel-US relations in every area.
Obama is looking for a lap dog that will do everything he wants regarding rewarding the Palestinians for being terrorists, the left is always more than willing to sell half of Israel to please the west. Netanyahu or anybody from the right cannot to be easily manipulated on the Palestinians or a potential nuclear deal with Iran. The tough line is why the hatred exists between Netanyahu and Obama, it is somethings Israeli should hold on to if national security is truly a priority in this election. Israel needs to decide whether they want favoritism from the west or do what is best for their own country. The election results will determine Israel’s future direction change is not always the best thing, and sometimes is highly overrated.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.