‘Northern Shield was planned, but its political timing is impeccable

The operation is advantageous to Netanyahu in its timing, burnishing his own “Mr. Security” image.

Two weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post reported that the chain of events leading to last month’s political crisis came from concerns about the security situation in the north, specifically Iranian involvement in Lebanon. On Sunday, this became clear, as the IDF embarked on Operation Northern Shield to destroy Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels into Israel.

Last month, when Hamas responded to a botched IDF operation in Gaza by launching 460 rockets into Israel in one day, the IDF struck back at Gaza, but the Security Cabinet quickly agreed to a ceasefire without a vote, because there was no serious opposition. The reason? Because they knew their focus would soon need to shift to the northern border. They chose Northern Shield over a southern shield. And they said they would respond more harshly to Gaza at a time that’s better for, and determined by Israel. Continue reading

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The decision that could change everything – or nothing

The recommendation to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges over Case 4000, otherwise known as the Bezeq Affair, is not likely to have much of an immediate impact, but it is a step toward what could be the most dramatic development in Israeli politics in a decade.

“There will be nothing, because there is nothing,” has been Netanyahu’s mantra all along, and he repeated it again after the police released their statement on Sunday, trying to shrug off the latest development.

In the short term, Netanyahu may be right not to despair because it seems likely that he will be safe, both politically and legally, for the coming months. Continue reading

Political drama hides a lame duck Knesset

Neither the coalition nor the opposition will really be passing any laws in the Knesset under the current political constellation.

The Knesset is often, if not usually, the focal point for Israeli politics. Will this or that controversial bill get passed? Will the Finance Committee approve the funding for a key policy? Did the Likud’s Oren Hazan really say that about another MK?

And so it has been for the past few weeks, with the coalition’s one-seat majority making every vote suspenseful and dramatic. Any vote is a chance for the opposition to rally and have a fairly realistic shot to block the coalition’s efforts.

But behind that veneer of drama and excitement is actually a Knesset that’s not doing much. Continue reading

A complicated cabinet reshuffle ahead

After Liberman’s departure, Netanyahu decided, rather than give away the defense portfolio, he’ll keep it for himself for the remainder of this Knesset’s tenure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also foreign minister, defense minister, health minister and immigration absorption minister.

He came by two of those portfolios involuntarily last week, when Yisrael Beytenu left the coalition, meaning Avigdor Liberman left the defense ministry and Sofa Landver was out at the immigration absorption ministry. Continue reading

What can a coalition living on borrowed time accomplish?

The coalition has lived to see another week.

Avigdor Liberman’s resignation from the Defense Ministry threw the Knesset into a panic, with nearly everyone certain that the coalition would fall apart – and coalition partners publicly saying as much. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was determined to keep his government going, and managed to get his mutinous ministers to fold, one by one.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing for the 61-seat coalition from here until whenever Netanyahu feels like making a move. There are many important items on the Knesset’s agenda, and it’s unclear if the coalition will be able to accomplish them while living on borrowed time. Continue reading

What does Arye Deri’s possible indictment mean for the coalition?

The political impact of the police’s recommendation to charge Interior Minister Arye Deri with fraud and breach of trust depends on two things: How long the coalition will last, and how long it will take Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to decide whether or not to indict Deri.

So far, Mandelblit has taken several months to make decisions on indictments of major political figures, and there is no reason to think Deri will be different.

Meanwhile, the new, slimmer 61-seat coalition is showing signs of wear and tear after just one day in the Knesset. On Monday, it lost a vote in the plenum and then pulled most bills off of the agenda. On Tuesday, it started a game of chicken with Yisrael Beytenu over the death penalty bill the former coalition party wants to pass. These are not the signs of a coalition that has a lot of time left. This is a coalition whose days are numbered.

In all likelihood, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s victorious declaration that the coalition will last another year, it will collapse long before November 2019, and before Mandelblit decides what to do with Deri’s case.  Continue reading