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Following Lapid-Bennett Deal, Likud Facing Civil War

The third Netanyahu government's unprecedented composition ushers in a power struggle within the ruling party.
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Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

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For Netanyahu, having cobbled a 21-minister, 8-deputy minister government—a huge improvement over most past governments that featured 30+ ministers, including many with the dubious “Minister without Portfolio” title—now has to turn to his own party, and dole out the seven precious seats in his possession (Liberman’s share already includes Foreign, Agriculture, Tourism, and Homeland Security).

For starters, the Ministry of Education has been yanked away from Likud star Gideon Sa’ar, who ran a fierce campaign in an attempt to retain it. He mobilized all the organizations under his influence, including the teachers’ union, local municipal authorities, even the Student Council. They all sang his praise as the inventor of modern education, a classroom god of and the messiah of homework.

It didn’t work. You see, Gideon Sa’ar, when he wasn’t busy teaching the children of Israel, was also in charge of the Likud Beitenu election campaign, which took them down from 42 to 31 Knesset seats. Ouch. And, worst of all, rumors have it that Sara Netanyahu, the Madam Pompadour of coalition politics, can’t stand him. Double and triple ouches.

Now Gideon sa’ar, who came in second in the Likud primaries, must fight over the Ministry of the Interior against Silvan Shalom and Gilad Erdan, both of whom are equally popular and equally hungry.

The Likud, Israel’s ruling party, is about to face disintegration—whether Netanyahu weathers this storm or not. The young and the restless right-wingers (and knitted yarmulke types) won top spots in the primaries have not given up their ambitions for ministerial titles. They paid their dues, they want a share ion the loot, even if the loot this time is a mere seven ministries.

Danny Danon, Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely, Ofir Akunis and Gila Gamliel will fight each other and Netanyahu for the slabs of government meat on the floor. And then there’s Sara Netanyahu’s most recent hated enemy, Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, a sweet and principled man who was ousted because of a few critical things he said about Sara’s husband. So now Bibi has a new, formidable, uber-disgruntled enemy within the ranks, who is certain to draw all the rest of the disgruntled – and many evil surprises are sure to sprout in the next few months.

It’s a good time to be a political analyst. If Likud does not break in half—or more—in the next term, it would be a sure sign that there’s a Likud angel up there, and he, too, is probably scared of Sara Netanyahu.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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