Alwaght- Besides the coronavirus crisis that still takes its tolls from the Israelis, Tel Aviv is facing another crisis making it hard for the Israeli politicians to deal with the current predicament is the Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on staying in office.
Benjamin Netanyahu already holds the record of being the longest-serving prime minister of the Israeli regime, with the length of his premiership more than that of David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, as he is now 14 years in office.
Netanyahu has another record: he is the first Israeli PM undergoing trial for corruption charges along with holding the post.
His verdict is yet to be given out but he has been standing trial since last year for charges of corruption in relations with an advertising firm and some unreported transactions.
The Israeli regime already sent to trials some of its PMs, but when their terms ended and their legal immunity was removed. But Netanyahu is the first PM to be tried while in office and under immunity. This is what makes him a record-breaker.
But he does not seem to have any intention to forsake the seat of the premiership, something making him a big challenge in the Israeli political mayhem.
Massive protests against Netanyahu
Over the past few weeks, huge protests were arranged against Netanyahu just outside his residence in Al-Quds (Jerusalem). The latest was Saturday when thousands gathered outside his official residence to call him to step down as they blamed him for coronavirus crisis mishandling and ongoing corruption trial.
The demonstrations were far from limited to the occupied Palestinian territories. Rather, they were also organized in some Western cities including New York, San Francisco, Washington, London, and Berlin, with one demand linking them all: resign Netanyahu.
While the protests share the common demand of Netanyahu's resignation, he wants to hold his grasp on the office.
Netanyahu deceives the rival
Currently, the Israeli cabinet is shared by the leading political parties Likud led by Netanyahu and the Blue and White led by Benny Gantz.
The two leaders rivaled each other in March parliamentary elections but since neither could win an outright majority, after months-long standoff, they agreed to form a “rotation” unity government to steer clear of a fourth general election in less than a year. Based on the rotary term, Netanyahu will lead for a year to be replaced by Gantz the second year. Third and fourth years will be the same, until an election is held in scheduled time.
But Netanyahu now wants to play grim and rip the coalition with Gantz as he shows a strong tendency to keep the power. This is clear from his stances and suggestions to Gantz. Netanyahu proposed to Gantz that he run for president and withdraw his bid for PM post.
But this does not look convenient for Gantz. Since the presidency in Israeli politics is largely ceremonial and the president does not have executive powers, the riled Gantz has voiced his opposition, accusing his rival of breaking his word.
As the two towering leaders of Israeli politics push the regime’s political scene into a fresh deadlock, Netanyahu refrains from delivering the next year budget to the parliament, officially called Knesset, to press for dissolution of the parliament and thus paving the way for snap general election through which he hopes to form a new cabinet independently, or at least with weaker and marginal parties which ask not much from him in a shared cabinet.
Very likely, Netanyahu calculates that if the budget is not approved, which can be used as an instrument to dissolve the Knesset, he can hold a snap election to drive Gantz out of the rivalry, solidify his power, and continue his unchallenged grip on the politics.
Why does Netanyahu seek to stay in power?
In addition to the sweetness of power, Netanyahu’s strong interest in holding the PM post stems from his concerns with his court conviction and end of his political life.
Netanyahu is worried that if he loses the power as a PM, he will be soon convicted in a court having adequate documents to his conviction and he will have no way but accept the death of his political life. That is the main drive behind his struggle to hold the post.
Israeli political atmosphere’s dim outlook
If Netanyahu continues to press ahead with his demands to hold his current position, the Israeli regime will have to go to the fourth election in less than two years, sending Tel Aviv into a winding, non-ending path.
As the three past elections failed to determine an outright winner, in the current conditions, it is highly unlikely that a party secures a landslide victory. This means that they have to once again resort to a coalition government.
Another issue is that if Netanyahu now scraps the coalition with the current rival, the formation of a new cabinet after the next election will be impossible practically. It would be hard to imagine that other parties will be ready to coalesce with Netanyahu if they now see his treachery.
In such a situation, Israeli politics will be shrouded even further in indecision, which means further undermining of Tel Aviv.