Photo Credit: Flash90
Supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu storm the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, December 6, 2019.

With less than two days remaining until the Knesset’s dispersal and the start of an election run for the third time in less than a year, everyone in Israel’s political sphere is already preparing for the 2020 campaign, and everyone expects it to be the last election.

How did great physicist Albert Einstein put it (he actually never said it)? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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On the Einstein thing – the erroneous reference that attributes the clever statement above to Einstein can be found in a pamphlet published by Narcotics Anonymous. God, grant me the serenity…

The clever politician Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday kicked the ball to MK Avigdor Liberman’s court, calling on him to forget the nonsense about a broad unity government and come home to a narrow, rightwing coalition, all will be forgiven.

Folks paid attention this time, because Liberman on Monday accepted the invitation of some 60 Likud heads of municipalities to meet them in Petah Tikvah and do the much needed U-turn. There were Likud activists who promised Liberman that they would usher him safely into the arms of his home party (sort of), where some day he might even replace Netanyahu (You would probably be able to recognize that day by all the flying pigs overhead…).

But Lieberman said nyet to all that, and repeated his mantra that “a narrow government is trouble,” using the Hebrew pun equating Tzara (narrow) with Tzara (trouble).

As you may recall, in a Sunday poll published by Kan 11, Liberman has already begun to pay the price for his adventures, as his party dropped from eight to seven seats.

Liberman reiterated his demands in the area of religion and state: equal Haredi draft, open supermarkets on Shabbat, public transportation on Shabbat, civil marriages, and conversion by city rabbis. The practical meaning of such legislation is that Liberman is seeking is a Haredi-free coalition.

Now, the polls give UTJ and Shas 18 seats in the next Knesset. It would be impossible to form a rightwing coalition without them.

Thank you, Mr. Einstein, or Narcotics Anonymous (which seems very apt in these circumstances).

Israeli media claim that beneath the surface there are still silent negotiations going on between the Likud and Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu, but there is still no way in the world to match the maximum Haredi concessions to Liberman’s minimum demands.

Also on Monday, Benny Gantz’s partner in the Blue&White leadership, Yair Lapid, announced chivalrously that he gave up the PM rotation deal between himself and Gantz, an agreement that was at the root of the initial union between the two.

Eliminating the rotation in Blue&White also keeps away the possibility of a unity government. If there was hope in the Likud that Gantz would split from Lapid at the last minute to enter a unity government, now it became clear the alliance between the two is strong, and Gantz is not about to betray his partner.

Lapid’s giving up the rotation means Blue&White is no longer being led by a committee of equals: Gantz, Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi. As of Monday, Blue&White has one leader only and his name is Benny Gantz.

Still, the political agreements between Gantz and Lapid will not change. Lapid will retain his power in the party, the agreed distribution of portfolios, and the role of Speaker of the Knesset (designated for former Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen from Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction), should Blue&White be able to form the next government.

Meanwhile, Likud is preparing for the coming elections, and for the seemingly unavoidable battle for party leadership. Netanyahu said he was “not acting against the primaries,” and his circle has announced that should a general election be declared, “there will be primaries in the Likud and Prime Minister Netanyahu will win big.”

This is not at all certain, because the Likud Center has already decided that there will be no primaries and froze the list of candidates from the previous elections.

Netanyahu’s big opponent in the Likud, MK Gideon Sa’ar, responded to the PM’s message, tweeting: “I Congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu on his announcement regarding holding primaries for Likud leadership. The Likud is the largest political movement in Israel and has a magnificent democratic tradition. We will run a positive, respectful and clean election campaign in which I will present clear plans and positions in all areas of policy. Let the Likud members decide.”

In his dreams?

If you expected that two days before the deadline, Israel’s politicians would engage exclusively in hectic negotiations to prevent third elections, you are probably disappointment. But how did Einstein put it? One’s disappointment is only as high as one’s expectations.

I know, I know, he never said such a thing.

At least Blue&White and Likud agreed on one thing: they decided that should, God forbid, there won’t be a government in place come Wednesday, December 11, at midnight, the next election will be held on Monday, March 2, 2020.

With completely different results.

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