Did Netanyahu the magician pull off another trick?

Kahlon is not on board yet, but Netanyahu managed to back Bennett into a corner, away from election threats.

“He’s a magician, he’s a magician,” Likud members have been known to cheer Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at party events.
Netanyahu the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat, even though, as Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said over the weekend, it looked like there was no hat and no rabbit.

Here we are, after nearly a week in which an early election looked like the inevitable conclusion, and Netanyahu is running a victory lap.

“We have a whole year until the election,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction, saying he is “pleased the efforts bore fruit” in trying to keep the coalition intact. Continue reading


Netayahu’s ‘gevalt’ campaign has already begun

An election seems inevitable at this point. The chain of events that began with a botched operation in Gaza – followed by Hamas shooting more rockets in one day than ever before, a ceasefire and Avigdor Liberman resigning as defense minister – have led us straight to the other coalition partners saying that there is no way to salvage this government.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still says he’s trying to keep the coalition intact, and accused other party leaders of being irresponsible and acting out of personal interests, in a televised statement on Sunday.

Netanyahu is using the tactic known as gevalt, a Yiddish expression of alarm, which in the political context means he is trying to scare people. It has worked before. In the weeks ahead of the 2015 election, the term “gevalt campaign” was coined to describe Netanyahu going to just about every radio and TV station to make his case to the public, pleading that if they vote for smaller right-wing parties, the Likud will lose. In the end, despite the final election polls showing the Likud and Zionist Union being neck and neck, the Likud won 30 seats. Continue reading

How Netanyahu can save this coalition despite Kahlon and Bennett’s threats

Netanyahu has few options to avoid an election, but he is known to make political magic. Does he have a rabbit to pull out of his hat?

An election seems inevitable at this point. The chain of events that began with a botched operation in Gaza, followed by Hamas shooting more rockets in a sole day than ever before, a ceasefire, and Avigdor Liberman resigning as defense minister have led us straight to other coalition partners saying there is no way to salvage this government.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was still trying to keep the coalition intact, and has a meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Sunday evening to that end.

What tricks does Netanyahu have up his sleeve? Continue reading

Coalition is not resting, it’s not stunned – it’s dead. Let the campaigning begin.

In a way, one could say this election is happening early because someone in Hamas decided to check a suspicious-looking van last Sunday night.

One of Monty Python’s most famous sketches is called “Dead Parrot.” A man shows up at a pet store to return the parrot he bought, after finding it to be dead. “It’s not dead, it’s resting,” the pet shop proprietor says. “He’s stunned,” he tries again, when the purchaser insists that he knows a dead parrot when he sees one. “He’s pining for the fjords,” the salesman says, because the parrot is of a fictional Norwegian breed.

Finally, the parrot purchaser decided he’s had enough, and breaks into a rant: “It’s passed on. It’s no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone on to meet its maker. This is a late parrot!”

Someone should repeat that rant to Netanyahu, but replace “parrot” with “coalition.”

To be fair, unlike the parrot, this coalition’s death is not yet final. The Knesset has yet to be dispersed. But the chances of resuscitation are very slim, leaning towards impossible, making Netanyahu’s repeated statements – three this weekend alone! – that he is going to keep the coalition intact sound close to delusional. Continue reading

Netanyahu’s government is teetering on a cliff’s edge. Can it survive?

A party-by-party look at who wants an election and who wants to keep the coalition together.

With Avigdor Liberman’s resignation from the Defense Ministry and taking his Yisrael Beytenu party with him, the coalition will be left with 61 members, a one-seat majority.

This coalition survived its first year without Liberman and with only 61 votes – but just barely. Every week from mid-2015 to June 2016 it seemed like the coalition was teetering on a cliff’s edge.

Can it stand on that precipice again and still survive? It all depends on whether the partners feel they have a shared interest in keeping it together. And even if they decide that an election in 100 days is not in their interest, they’ll have to be on their very best behavior. It’s unclear that can happen, when the coalition has to rely on the likes of Oren Hazan and other rebellious Likud backbenchers to get anything done. Continue reading

Who is creating fake news sites to slander Netanyahu and Liberman?

Jerusalem Post reporters were targeted in an elaborate online scam in an apparent attempt to spread rumors that Avigdor Liberman, who resigned as defense minister Wednesday, is a Russian agent.

At least two reporters were sent a link to a website disguised as the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, purporting to report on comments by ex-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo in which he accuses Liberman of being a Russian spy.

Pardo emphatically denied making the statements, though he did speak at Harvard last week. Continue reading

Ceasefire shows politics don’t always come first

A strange thing happened almost immediately after sources briefed reporters that the cabinet unanimously decided to accept a ceasefire with Hamas: ministers began denying it.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Hamas to ISIS earlier this week and said that there was no diplomatic solution for the conflict, but also said that war should be a last resort, and Israel will do what it can to avoid it. The responses were not particularly accepting. Yet the cabinet’s decision – or lack of a decision – on Tuesday seemed to follow that reasoning.

There was no vote in the cabinet on what to do next, since no ministers put up a fight against security officials’ suggestions, which Netanyahu strongly supported – Israel should follow a “quiet for quiet” formulation, meaning that it will hold its fire as long as Hamas does. Continue reading