Analysis: Amid Netanyahu Failure, Can His Opponents Form Cabinet?

Analysis: Amid Netanyahu Failure, Can His Opponents Form Cabinet?

The Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on April 6 gave Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government and introduce it to the Knesset. Now as Netanyahu is nearing end of his four-weak opportunity, the Israeli media report that Rivlin intends to give the task to the veteran politician's rivals.

Ahlulbayt News Agency: The Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on April 6 gave Netanyahu 28 days to form a new government and introduce it to the Knesset. Now as Netanyahu is nearing end of his four-weak opportunity, the Israeli media report that Rivlin intends to give the task to the veteran politician's rivals.

Although Netanyahu according to the law can take additional two weeks from Rivlin if he wishes, his efforts to reach an agreement with other parties have so far gone nowhere. Evidence shows that Rivlin is going to name as PM Yair Lapid, the head of Yash Atid party, or Naftali Bennett, the leader of Yamina party, rather than transferring his duty for naming the PM to the parliament. Netanyahu’s insistence on keeping the seat of the PM shows that the uncertainty in the Israeli politics is going to compound.

Netanyahu resorts to Gantz

The failure of Netanyahu's talks with the other parties has once again prompted him to form an alliance with his former ally. According to Channel 12, Netanyahu, who sees himself in danger being forced to leave the political stage, has once again resorted to the current Defense Minister Benny Gantz, of Blue and White coalition, in order to remain in power. The Israeli television reported on Sunday night that Netanyahu’s Likud proposed to Gantz forming a new "rotation deal", with Gantz this time taking the PM post first.

"Under the terms of the reported offer, Gantz would be prime minister for the first year, after which Netanyahu would return to lead the country for another two years, and then Gantz take over again for a final year," reported Times of Israel news website, adding: “During his terms as prime minister, Gantz would continue to also serve as defense minister. Netanyahu would continue to live at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem [al-Quds] throughout the four years."

Gantz strongly rejected the offer, reports said, telling Netanyahu over the phone "I don't see that as feasible." Netanyahu’s last push seems to have failed badly and he sustained a big defeat to form a government.

Netanyahu walking down to political career end

Netanyahu's inability to build consensus around him in the election has intensified in the current situation more than ever. In fact, the current Israeli PM, who has held this position as the highest political official since 2009, seems to have fallen victim to his extremist policy of not compromising to Gantz. As it turns out, the political factions opposed to the Likud party are pushing to end Netanyahu's 12-year rule. As the election results came out on March 23, Likud and its right-wing allies failed to meet the threshold to form a government independently despite gaining 52 Knesset seats.

Perhaps when Netanyahu last year entered the rotation deal with Gantz he thought that his measures for the year to come would win him the adequate seats to form a government independently. In fact, Netanyahu failed to retain the post despite his efforts to buy coronavirus vaccines and sign normalization agreements with four Arab states and to prove that the Israeli economy under his leadership is very strong and prosperous.

In the run-up to the March election, Netanyahu appearance on television increased in order to advance his covert and overt political goals. His highly divided political rivals helped him in some way with their differences. The television gave him more airtime than his rivals. Although it was clear that if at least one of his opponents failed to enter the Knesset, Netanyahu would have a much higher chance of winning. Still Likud failed and while in the 2020 vote the party had 36 seats, its seats dropped to 30 in March polls.

In addition to the drop in the Likud votes, deepening divisions within Likud and Netanyahu's allied parties can be another important driver of the end of Netanyahu's rule. Indeed, there have been reports in recent years of disagreements among Likud leaders and members over the continuation of Netanyahu premiership. Now with Likud opposition parties showing resolve to form a new cabinet, the process of Netanyahu fall is moving even faster. There is a must-face fact: Netanyahu can no longer be the mainstay of the Israeli politics.

Difficulties of forming alliance to oust Netanyahu

The political dead end in the Israeli regime cannot move to a solution even as Netanyahu proves unable to form a government. Even if Rivlin names Lapid or Bennet as Netanyahu replacements, the formation of new cabinet by the opposition leaders is a bumpy road.

If Lapid or Bennet are given the job, they would need to bring under an alliance Yash Atid, Yamina, Labour, Meretz, Yisrael Beiteinu, and the United Arab List. Although a majority of parties agree around Netanyahu ouster from power, and somehow believe in a coalition to do so, this coalition can fall apart with exit of one or more political parties with regard to Likud’s tremendous media and financial power.

Even in case of an opposition coalition, the continuation of life of a cabinet with 6 parties would be difficult. The Israeli political process and developments in the recent years prove that maintaining a coalition in the government is a difficult job for the Israeli leaders and chances of defections are high. 

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