This is the second time in as many weeks that Netanyahu showed he’ll do what he can to keep the coalition together when he has had opportunities to call an election.
Political commentators were having déjà vu Sunday morning, and for a brief moment it seemed like we might have an election soon – until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put the kibosh on the idea.
As the Knesset geared up for a final vote on the much-disputed police recommendations bill, the situation seemed more and more like the votes on another ultra-controversial bill in 2014 – the Israel Hayom bill.
That legislation would have outlawed the dissemination of free, daily newspapers and, just like the police recommendations bill, was viewed as a personal piece of legislation to help Netanyahu avoid an indictment, or at least more damaging leaks to the press. The Israel Hayom bill was also personally targeted at Netanyahu, but with the opposite aim – to hurt him by shutting down the newspaper owned by his ally, Sheldon Adelson, which gives him overwhelmingly positive coverage.
In that case, Netanyahu’s Likud party supported the bill, while more and more coalition members began distancing themselves from it. Then, Netanyahu vehemently opposed the proposal, while more and more members of his previous coalition supported it – so much so that it even passed a preliminary reading.
Netanyahu later admitted that one of the reasons he called the 2015 election, less than two years after the previous one, was to stop the Israel Hayom bill.
But this time, as the prospects of the police recommendations bill grew bleaker throughout the day, Netanyahu didn’t pull the trigger. This time, he backed down.
“I asked… to make sure the bill will be worded so that it doesn’t apply to the investigation of my matters,” Netanyahu wrote.
And that’s how, in a 166-word Facebook post, Netanyahu cooled down the political atmosphere.