PM Netanyahu has no one to blame for the results of his coalition negotiations but himself, though that’s not stopping him from blaming his partners (and former partners) he mistreated.
Netanyahu’s natural partners, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu, were prepared to sign with the Likud immediately and with relatively reasonable demands, but Netanyahu saved them to last, played hardball with them, and basically abused them, until they decided they had enough.
An angry Avigdor Liberman quit as foreign minister and made it clear that he won’t be part of Netanyahu’s coalition. A fed-up Naftali Bennett decided to instead go for the gold, since his trust in Netanyahu was approaching zero, and he believed he had nothing left to lose.
According to a Makor Rishon report, Netanyahu told Likud MKs that not only will Liberman not be a member of his coalition now, Liberman will not be a member of his coalition, ever. Even if Liberman changes his mind, “there’s no coming back.”
Sources in the Likud said there will be revenge on Bennett for playing hardball during the last days of negotiations, and Netanyahu is plotting to kick Bennett out of the coalition as soon as possible and bring in Yitzchak Herzog and the Zionist Camp instead.
Within Bayit Yehudi, they believe that has been Netanyahu’s plan all along, even before Bennett began playing hardball back.
According to the Makor Rishon report, Netanyahu also said Bayit Yehudi can forget about introducing any judicial revolutions, whether they be reforms in how judges are selected or any other decisions that negatively impact the judiciary, as he will personally block it.
Netanyahu plans to rely on one of the conditions in the coalition agreement which prevents proposing “explosive” legislation in the legislation committee. This condition was introduced in the previous coalition to thwart then Justice Minister Tzipi Livni from going overboard, but it still didn’t stop Livni from proposing them all the time in the committee.
Likud sources say that Netanyahu is personally holding on to the Foreign Ministry portfolio so he can offer it to any party that might join the coalition later.
Since Lapid and Liberman won’t be allowed back in, that only leaves Yitzchak Herzog and his Zionist Camp (Labor).
For his part, Herzog says that he won’t be joining Netanyahu’s coalition, but when asked to confirm that position with a party vote, Herzog refused, leaving the feeling among his party members that he is leaving that door wide open.
Even within the Likud, a minor rebellion is brewing, with MKs jockeying for the limited number of ministerial positions, and each one feeling they deserve it more than their friends and associates, and that Netanyahu owes it to them.
Netanyahu’s coalition is off to a rough start, with a lot of anger and an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust.
In the previous coalition, Netanyahu tried to keep Bennett out of the government, but Bennett forced his way in and proved to be Netanyahu’s most trusted and reliable ally. Liberman has also been Netanyahu’s trusted and reliable ally for decades.
Maybe these relationships are now broken, but the thing about politics, and Israeli politics in particular, is that there is no such thing as forever –unless you’re Shimon Peres.