Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz have not signed an agreement to form a unity government yet, but Netanyahu already won, because Blue and White has come apart.
English soccer player Gary Lineker once famously said “football is a simple game – 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” More than one political commentator tweeted on Thursday afternoon that Israeli politics is a simple game and, you play for 90 minutes and Bibi always wins.
The political “wizard,” as Netanyahu
is often nicknamed, has done it again, and this time he has the coronavirus
to thank for putting is political career on a respirator that could keep it alive for years to come, even when the crisis passes.
This week’s constitutional crisis was a long time coming.
Israel has been in political limbo for over a year, with three elections and the rhetoric getting all the more divisive as time went on. The country is being managed by an interim government that cannot break past the framework of the 2018-2019 budget. And then COVID-19 struck, impacting every single Israeli.
But while most of Israel was more worried about avoiding getting infected with coronavirus and staying sane under lockdown, the political squabbles continued.
As of this week, China has reported that it is ahead of the curve, meaning that it has gotten past the mass contagion stage with no new community transmission of COVID-19.
AMBASSADOR TO China Zvi Heifetz with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about trying to “flatten the curve” so that the spread of the novel coronavirus does not occur at one major peak, but happens at a lower and longer rate.
As of this week, though, China has reported that it is ahead of the curve, meaning that it has gotten past the mass contagion stage with no new community transmission of COVID-19.
Watching the developments from their outset has been Ambassador to China Zvi Heifetz.
Though some have expressed concern about a lack of transparency from the Chinese government and propaganda messages about the virus’s origin, leading many to distrust the claims of zero new local coronavirus infections, Heifetz is confident that the saga is near its end in that part of the world.
Heifetz posited that, “in today’s global world, with all the social media and smartphones,” it would be impossible to hide it if the coronavirus was still spreading in China.
Gantz’s only viable options these days are to break promises he made to his voters. And no matter what he chooses, he could alienate a large swath of them and tear apart his faction.
It will come as a shock to no one that politicians lie. The exceptions to that rule are few and far between.
But not all lies are created equal. There is the outright lie – saying something false when you know the truth. There are lies of omission – intentionally leaving out unflattering details.
And then there are broken promises. When people accuse a politician of lying, they are usually referring to politicians who make some kind of declaration of what they plan to accomplish, and then don’t do it.
This could be a more forgivable kind of lie if the politician in question clearly made an effort to fulfill his or her commitments, but was unsuccessful.
It could also be forgivable if the circumstances changed dramatically, such as, if a pandemic suddenly broke out.
That brings us to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
The ‘Post’ checked in on Friedman and found him to be in high spirits and confident about the ability of the US and Israel to pull through the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
US Ambassador David Friedman usually has a very busy schedule, going from one meeting to another with Israeli officials, flying to Washington to meet with US President Donald Trump, or addressing major Israeli or American organizations.
This week, however, Friedman was forced to scale back. After attending the AIPAC Policy Conference at the beginning of the month and returning to Israel after March 5, the ambassador had to self-quarantine for a few days under the Health Ministry’s instructions. He has since been working mostly from home.
There may be 61 MKs committed to getting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of office, but there are not 61 MKs to form a coalition with agreed-upon guidelines.
When is 61 not a majority of the Knesset? Blue and White leader Benny Gantz may be about to find out.
The Joint List, including the long-reticent Balad Party,
and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman put an end to speculation about their next moves when they met with President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday and recommended Gantz to form the next government.
This means Gantz received the recommendations of 61 out of 120 MKs, making him the candidate with the first shot at forming a coalition. Without the rest of the details, that seems like relatively smooth sailing for the prime ministerial hopeful.
Freedman was told “there’s a big Hollywood producer whose brother wants him out of the company, and the job is to see if there’s a plot against him.”
The day after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York for third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual acts, Seth Freedman, the Israeli-English spy who spoke to some of Weinstein’s accusers, said last week he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
The reason for his lack of regret, Freedman said, is because he didn’t know Weinstein was trying to cover up rape accusations. And once he did, both he and his former employer Black Cube said they dropped the job.
The walls went up, and Israel is now a fortress. In a dramatic decision the government made this week, all those entering the country from abroad – regardless of where they have been – must be quarantined for two weeks to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Many other Western countries have begun taking similar measures, including the US, which barred entry from Europe on Wednesday night.
But when Israel first started pulling up the drawbridges, it was taking the most extreme measures in the West to contain COVID-19. After the government announced it was stopping flights from China, there was talk about adverse diplomatic effects.
The silver lining for Netanyahu of not having an immunity request on the Knesset’s docket was that long debates on his status would not be at the top of the news in the weeks before an election.
WASHINGTON – It has been a persistent political meme since the end of 2016, when it was first brought to light that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was under investigation for alleged corruption offenses, that the end of his political career was imminent.
Yet three years, three investigations and three indictments – including one bribery charge – later, Netanyahu is still living on Balfour Street in Jerusalem and will probably start negotiations to form his fifth – fourth consecutive – government. The indictment did not seem to be on voters’ minds, and if it was, then they didn’t care enough about it to abandon Netanyahu.
I was one of the journalists invited to be briefed by Palestinian officials. Then, the restaurant where we had lunch was attacked, and the PLO is pretending they had nothing to do with us.
“It is disgraceful,” PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi tweeted on Monday night.
“I agree,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat chimed in a couple of hours later.
What disturbed these veteran Palestinian leaders so much? My effusive tweet about the knafeh in Ramallah.