Prime Minister Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is rightfully praised by all as a politician of unmatched skill who artfully engages in political machinations designed to weaken his strongest political competitors both in his own party and rival parties. There are multiple examples of this maneuvering, which I skip over to get to the point. The man is, no doubt, a genius in this realm.
According to the polls, the two politicians who pose the greatest threats to Bibi to replace him as prime minister are Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid and Jewish Home Party Leader Naftali Bennett.
Bibi is using Amona to weaken and destroy Bennett.
In the 2013 Israeli elections, Bennett received 12 seats. In the 2015 elections, Bennett’s party went down to 8, primarily because he tried to draw non-religious voters to his religious Jewish Home party, by placing some non-religious people in key po?sitions in the party’s Knesset list. Bennett thus alienated many of his hardcore Torani religious Zionist voters whose primary concerns are settling the Land of Israel and promoting Torah values in the public realm. Those voters left their natural home party – the Jewish Home party – and cast their ballots for Eli Yishai’s party, which didn’t pass the minimum threshold required for entry to the Knesset, and the votes went to waste. The result, Bennett went down to 8 seats.
Bibi’s analysis goes as follows: “If I destroy Amona while Bennett sits in the coalition, it will further weaken Bennett’s standing amongst his hardcore Torani Zionist voters who will abandon him completely.” Bibi will make promises to keep Amona on a nearby hill, will declare that he will pass the regulation law (while whispering in the Attorney General’s ear not to support it), so that Bibi looks like the one who is trying to save Amona from the court’s decrees, but, in the end, simply can’t override the rule of law.
Bibi knows that once Amona is destroyed, Bennett is finished, no matter how much he claims that he worked days and nights together with his Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to try and find a legal solution for Amona. Bibi all along is sitting back in his chair watching the Jewish Home Ministers Bennett and Shaked working overtime to find a solution, and telling his Attorney General to not approve any solution they bring. Because Bibi needs the dust and rubble of Amona to destroy Bennett’s political future.
The only move that Bennett can do is this: declare to Bibi that if Amona is destroyed, Bennett will bolt the coalition and bring down Bibi’s government. Were he to do so, Bennett would be the one to sit back in his chair, and watch Bibi and the Attorney General working days and nights to find a solution to prevent Amona’s destruction.
But, Bibi correctly surmised that Bennett won’t have the guts to threaten leaving his lofty po?sition as Education Minister over Amona. Indeed, Bennett never went as far as threatening to bring down the government.
In the event of Jewish Home’s exiting the coalition, the Labor Party would never join the government to save it, as it would rip their party into two. Lapid also has no interest in saving the government. To the contrary, he, more than any other politician today, wants elections as the polls favor him as the next Prime Minister.
So, This is the final hour of Bennett.
I was present at an unpublicized meeting between Former Nat’l Union Party Leader Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked several months ago. Shaked asked for the meeting to hear Ketzaleh’s thoughts on saving Amona.
Justice Minister Shaked opened the meeting detailing the four legal tracks that she and her office were working furiously on to come up the legal acrobatics required to save the town of Amona. Ketzaleh and I listened attentively. She asked for Ketzaleh’s analysis on the situation.
Ketzaleh leaned forward in his chair and said, “The esteemed Minister of Justice, despite his public declarations, the Prime Minister is not seeking a legal solution to save Amona. Netanyahu could really care less about a few dozen trailer homes on the Amona hill. Bibi’s only end goal is to protect and advance the political future of Bibi, and Amona’s destruction is the exact tool needed to bring down you and your party head Naftali Bennett who today present a formidable threat to his leadership.” Ketzaleh added that through Amona’s demolition, he will succeed in weakening the Jewish Home party by another 4 seats in the next elections, and thus remove Bennett as a serious political threat.
Shaked listened without interruption as Ketzaleh presented numerous facets of his analysis. Her entire focus was changed as a result of the talk with Ketzaleh, and she agreed wholeheartedly with every word. She said she would bring this message to Bennett.
But, Ketzaleh, like Bibi, also surmised that Bennett wouldn’t have the guts to threaten to bring down the government.
Still now, if Bennett would come at this last hour and declare to Bibi and for all to hear, “If Amona is destroyed, the Jewish Home Party leaves the coalition,” Bennett would earn back the voters he lost, go back up to 12 seats in the next election and save Amona from destruction. Ketzaleh said this again loud and clear and a pro-Amona demonstration two days ago. Click here for Ketzaleh’s short speech (with English subtitles).
We say to Bennett the same words that Mordechai said to Esther in the Purim story, “It is for this crucial moment that you reached the governing power that you have.” We really don’t care to hear about how hard you tried to save Amona, because you didn’t use the trump card (no pun intended) that you were holding.