Benjamin Netanyahu has been allowed a 14 days’ respite for forming a cabinet. After the announcement of the final outcome of the elections State President Shimon Peres – after having heard the suggestions of the leaders of all elected parties – delegated Netanyahu to form the cabinet. 28 days had passed when he ought to have done so, but Bibi has not succeeded. He tried to explain away his failure at the presidential residence today: „ It is against my principles to boycott a certain community, that is why I could not form a cabinet.”
The point is that Yesh Atid, the party of Yair Lapid does mean the promise they gave to their electors – it was not for minister’s armchairs in Parliament that they intended to participate in the government coalition, but they wanted that the changes they set out to achieve should really be done. To this end it is necesary that the traditional right wing alliance with the ortodox religious parties should dissolve. Thus Netanyahu evades the issue – it is not the ortodox community Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett are boycotting but the party leaders who would be impeders of the changes. I.e. it is unimanginable that the same politicians who had tried to find place for themselves in each government in order to protect the privilegies of the ortodox would now agree to each citizen of Israel learning also subjects which are not necessary to immersion in Talmud but which are, in fact, unavoidable to getting a job. Or, to a situation where studying Talmud does not release people from the army or labour.
Lapid became a politician in order to represent the „normal” majority of Israel – people who are soldiers when young, then are working paying tax and who do not want to keep one more family just because there are other people who are studying Talmud instead of working.
The results of the elections reflect the „national will”which is confirmed also by The Jewish Home, the Party of Bennett, as they are religious, but working, paying tax and they also take part in the defence of the country.
Netanyahu is in a trap which his „ill-matched” party, and he also has somehow to reach an agreement with Avigdor Lieberman . Before the elections the putting up of joint candidates seemed a good solution but the results are poor – from 31 mandates 20 belongs to Likud, 11 to Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home). Compared to this the 19 mandates of Lapid are dangerously too many and with the 12 mandates of Bennett following, it means an indisputably strong press. Both leaders of the two first-election parties intend to be a prime ministers sometime. Lapid got an offer from some left wing parties but he refused – he is not playing for a predictable failure but he is building systematically for long term, considering every step. That is why he is not willing to enter – already at the beginning – into a compromise which may make his capacity within the cabinet uncertain.
Bennett’s head was not turned either by the possibility of becoming a minister. He is a successful businessman, it is a challenge for him to strengthen the party formed for the representation of the Zionist religious people and for a dialogue with the secularists – stressing of the distinction from the ortodox is important from him for this reason as well. The fact that his present ally may certainly become his opponent later seemingly does not disturb him, he also has time enough to become prime minister.
For a politician, however, who does not intend to retire as yet but whose party is doing more poorly from year to year,involving Lapid and Bennett into the coalition may mean as if he let lion cubs into his bedroom – being continuously afraid of being eaten up.
Netanyahu would like to remain prime minister for a time, though in the depth of his consciousness he probably suspects that this would be his last chance. Not long after the elections his „best man”, Stanley Fischer, President of the Bank of Israel handed in his resignation. It is a great loss to the country, as it is due to his activity that Israel could avoid the great world economic crisis, and it is a big loss of prestige for Netanyahu. Within Likud, his party, he has many adversaries wo rub in the poor elections results each time.
Presumably he has to decide whether he wants to finish his career as a party leader, a small-scale politician or finaly as a statesman who notices the sign of times and forms the only reasonable government coalition which represents the election results, i.e. the national will: Likud-Beiteinu 31 + Yesh Atid 19 + Bayit HaYehudi 12 + Hatnuah (Tzipi Livni) 6 = 68. Certainly, Mofaz will join on the ruins of Kadima with his lousy 2 mandates which make 70 in the Knesset of 120.
He has four hard years to look forward to with strong right and left wing opposition but he can do something finally in the interest of the country not only sounding the battle-cry against the Iranian nuclear danger – which is well-grounded, but not enough in a country able to develop at great pace and where thousands of other actual problems should be solved.