By Limor Livnat, former MK and minister for Likud
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to pat himself on the back for what he claims is his successful management of the coronavirus crisis.
In his speech on Wednesday, he also gave himself high marks for managing the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.
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He reveled in recounting his many calls to the makers of the COVID-19 vaccines we all hope will be available soon, and of course took full credit for the peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.
But the prime minister also continued to spew empty platitudes about the need for national unity, just hours after the Knesset passed a preliminary vote to disperse with a 61 to 54 majority.
Netanyahu wants national unity? Does he? He accused Defense Minister Benny Gantz of violating the coalition agreement, but it was Netanyahu himself who violated the deal.
Since the coalition’s early days, the prime minister has done nothing but attack his Blue & White partners, even if sometimes indirectly.
He had allies and pundits do the job, not least of them his own son, who has never shied away from viciously attacking his father’s political opponents.
Netanyahu has refused to present a budget for 2021. But while gushingly praising the non-profits and NGOs stepping up to provide support and assistance to Israelis in dire need, he neglected to add that it was his government that has been withholding public funds, bringing such organizations to the point of collapse.
His ministries, responsible for the lives of many of the weakest among us, are unable to carry out their duties because there is no budget.
Despite Gantz’s almost desperate call for the prime minister to introduce a budget and avoid the need for a fourth election cycle in less than two years, Netanyahu has no intention of delivering on his coalition commitment.
He is instead constructing a mountain of false excuses to explain his refusal to fulfil his obligation under the coalition deal and meet the promises made to the country.
There will be no budget, nor will there be a rotation for the role of prime minister as stipulated in the agreement signed in May. Netanyahu is simply not to be believed.
If Blue & White thought that by advancing a bill to dissolve the Knesset they would sway the prime minister, they were wrong. The election train has left the station.
What remains to be determined is the date for the fourth election. No doubt it will be one most suitable for Netanyahu.
An election in March would come too soon for him. Most Israelis will not by then have received a COVID-19 vaccine and the pandemic would still be exacting a price in human lives and in nearly a million citizens out of work.
May or June might be preferable to him, after much of the population has received the vaccine or was found to be immune to the virus.
To his advantage, Netanyahu will find himself standing against a fragmented center-left opposition.
He, therefore, need only hope that his opponent to the right, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, will return to the fold and join him in forming his most coveted right-wing religious government. Such a coalition would ensure his immunity from the charges he faces for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust and enshrines his rule for years to come.