Who knows, perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking forward to some self-isolation and getting a timeout from coalition negotiations with Benny Gantz.
Here at the Muqata, we’re very distressed at the reports coming out as to how the negotiations with Gantz are progressing. With every update, it sounds like we’re getting an even more leftwing government as Gantz’s demands get more extreme.
And apparently we’re not the only ones who have noticed that. The Yamina party has come straight out and declared they’re going to go sit in the opposition, if Netanyahu shifts his government leftward.
Add to that, the unhappy grumbling from within the Likud party at the negotiation’s direction and inequitable seat distribution, and it seems Netanyahu is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
For lack of an alternative (or as part of his master plan) Netanyahu supported Gantz to become appointed Knesset Speaker, in doing so, Netanyahu ripped apart the Blue&White party, sending Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman to the Opposition. That was a victory.
But by doing so, he gave Gantz something Gantz didn’t have before, the potential power of Mutually Assured Destruction.
Right now, it is unclear if Netanyahu made a mistake out of desperation, or if he hoped to bring about a fourth round of elections, or if he hoped he could whittle Gantz down to something more reasonable (and will use his internal opposition as the excuse for his bait and switch), but it seems to us that he was far too generous with his offer to Gantz with his mere 17 seats, treating them (pre-negotiations) as equals to his 58-seat block.
And now, Knesset Speaker Gantz, if unhappy with the negotiations, can initiate (and possibly pass) anti-Netanyahu legislation which would make it political suicide for Netanyahu to go to a fourth election.
For his part, Netanyahu can pull the Samson option, and politically destroy Lapid and Gantz, while guaranteeing a strong and unequivocally right wing coalition in the next Knesset – simply by going to elections. But a key advantage Netanyahu has is that if Gantz fails to pull off his anti-Netanyahu legislation, only the left loses.
How might Gantz fail to pull off his Knesset Speaker coup?
I am sure that Netanyahu is simultaneously negotiating with Amir Peretz, Orly, Hauser and Hendel or at least keeping the lines of communications open with them.
Having burned their bridges with the left, it’s nearly impossible for Hauser and Hendel to go back. They have nothing to gain by voting against Netanyahu besides revenge, and everything to gain if they side with the Likud. Amir Peretz knows the skies are the limit if he sticks with Bibi, and he is too smart to be as greedy as Gantz, just to have it all ripped away.
Sure, Gantz can gamble and use his Knesset Speaker power against Bibi, but at his point the odds are not in his favor. Netanyahu, if not blocked from running again, will only gain from another election, and if blocked, could either simply take revenge, or more likely, cut a deal with the “just not Bibi” defectors and leave Gantz and his momentary anti-Bibi bill hanging in the wind.
If there is one piece of advice I would give Gantz right now it would be to “never bet against the house,” and hopefully that house is going to end up a right wing one.