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The fantasy of replacing Netanyahu

Op-ed: The PM and his party could be defeated if the political system were to be redefined by a new center-right party and a new, comfortably left-wing Labor.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Who knows when the next elections will be held? What’s quite certain is that the Likud party will once again be lead by Benjamin Netanyahu. True, he has exhausted his welcome in the eyes of many in his party – and in those of many of their voters. It seems that he is even becoming a bit tired of himself. And still, there’s no one in the Likud to go up against him. There’s no party to oppose him either, unless a new one were to be established.

That new party should be organized in advance. It has to come from the political right, plant its feet in the center, and be a national-liberal body. A new Kadima (a centrist political party formed in November 2005 by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It later became the largest party in the Knesset following the March 2006 national elections, led by Ehud Olmert, who had replaced the medically-incapacitated Sharon. –ed). Its leadership could be comprisde of people such as Moshe Ya’alon, Yair Lapid, Gideon Sa’ar, Moshe Kahlon, and Gabi Ashkenazi.

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Former defense minister Ya'alon. Goes fromInsult to Insult. (Photo Motti Kimchi)


Ya’alon represents the value of laws and the spirit of workers in Israel. However, he does not inspire enthusiasm among voters, nor is he politically savvy. He moves from insult to insult. As head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate (MID) and as an IDF GOC, he was exposed to Yasser Arafat’s lies and took them personally. As IDF chief of staff, he was insulted by being left out of the loop regarding PM Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan. As defense minister, he was horribly insulted by his replacement by Avigdor Lieberman; it was the biggest shame of his career so far. These days, we can see him soothing the pain of that blow with flute playing and meditation, looking like someone who’s headed towards an Indian ashram and not the Israeli political leadership.

Lapid created his Yesh Atid party from thin air and has cemented it in impressive fashion. But his record as finance minister is poor and short. His experience on stately and security matters can be summed up by his membership in the Security Cabinet. He’s beloved by the Israeli center. His rightward turn of late has been a success. But Lapid is not yet equipped for a prime-ministerial run. He has a future, but not necessarily a near one. It seems that he’d have a hard time taking his party, the fruit of his loins, and merge it with others to create a larger entity.


Gideon Sa'ar. Born and raised in the Likud. (Photo Barel Efraim)


Moshe Kahlon should avoid running with independent party once more, as his prospects in such a case are quite clearly poor. He is not willing to partner up with the Likud, since he didn’t leave his old party just to turn right back around and be Netanyahu’s servant once more. Joining a new party would be the best option for him. What’s more, he has no current aspirations of being prime minister, and would like another term as finance minister to really make his mark.

Gideon Sa’ar was born and raised in the Likud – an initial advantage, as the goal of this hypothetical new party is to bring in the ruling party’s voters. Sa’ar was a senior Likud minister, serving as Minister of Education, then Minister of the Interior. He was also a member of more than one Cabinet. If he’s backed up by Ya’alon on one side and Ashkenazi on the other, it could make up for his lack of experience on matters of security.

This new party would need to add in female politicians such as (Minister) Gila Gamliel and (MK) Orly Levy-Abekasis. The real mark of its good future prospects would be (current Minister of Jerusalem Affirs and Likud MK) Ze’ev Elkin asking to join its ranks.

The Israeli Labor party has, for a frustratingly long time, been driving slowly on the Israeli political freeway, jamming up the left-hand lane that could be used better by a real leftist party. It’s also obstructing the way for centrist parties that aspire to overtake some of the other vehicles racing towards the Knesset. What can you do with it? There are politicians like MK Tzipi Livni, who wish to organize a large center-left political alliance. Livni apparently believes this alliance should have her at its center. But this kind of entity is a failure in waiting. Instead, there should be a center-right alliance and a leftist alliance.


Erel Margalit. A more subtle,   Israeli Donald Trump. (Photo Motti Kimchi)


The Labor party’s left wing members—Shelly Yachimovich, Merav Michaeli, Stav Shafifr, Yossi Yona—need to make a connection with Meretz. They would be able to improve Meretz, perhaps bringing it back to the days when it held 12 Knesset seats.

The Labor party itself will be one step to the new Kadima’s left. It needs to put someone like MK Erel Margalit or Amir Peretz at its helm. Margalit is appropriate for the current times—a more subtle, Israeli version of Donald Trump. Peretz is right when he says that he beat Netanyahu and the Likud in Israel’s periphery towns.

This kind of political case, in which the divisions and camps are reshuffled, will see Netanyahu and the Likud party bruised, and maybe beaten. But such a case looks like a mere fantasy, a fairytale, since it demands the reengineering of human nature, the neutering of more than one person’s ambitions, and the rooting out of many political egos.

Ynet News



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