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The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

Netanyahu: 1+1=0.5

For now we see through a glass, darkly1 Corinthians 13: 12



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On February 15, 2013, roughly at the mid of the term allotted by Israeli law, Benjamin Netanyahu hadn’t yet presented a coalition. Formally, he has another two weeks to achieve the feat; afterwards, President Shimon Peres may give him two more weeks. If he fails then, the task would be given to somebody else. However, despite the theoretical capability of Yair Lapid to accomplish the task, this is an unlikely possibility (see Treason Season). Thus, if Netanyahu fails, Israel would probably go to elections by mid-2013, and Netanyahu's political career would be over. Likud would kick Netanyahu out before the elections, or Netanyahu would fail the elections miserably; he has been recently described as "driving on fuel-fumes." Despite the drama, he is conducting his negotiations in a strange fashion, attempting to keep his more natural partners out of his next coalition. Netanyahu's odd math claims that 1+1=0.5. He wants a coalition, but a coalition of the meek, where he will be able to dictate Likud's policies.


Great Negotiations

Bennett Fights Sarah Netanyahu

"Terror Course" "Back to Initial Position" says Bibi
Naftali Bennett Fights Sarah Netanyahu
Bibi's shirt reads "The Unit"
both served in the IDF's elite commando unit
International Negotiation

Opposing Voters Will

Netanyahu's Likud-Israel Beiteinu won 31 seats out of 120. He needs the support of at least 61 Members of the Knesset; a Minority Government with less than 60 members is technically possible, but has proven to be extremely unstable. The second largest party is secular-humanist Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapid, with 19 seats. Religious-Zionist The Jewish Home has 12 seats. Thus, these three can form a stable coalition. Unluckily, Bennett had a giant fight with Sarah Netanyahu, Bibi's wife, five years ago; he recently laughed at "his terror course with Sarah Netanyahu" (see cartoon). Only last week he spoke again with Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since then, in what has been reported as a frozen-meeting. These two natural allies are unlikely to cooperate unless forced to do so. Meanwhile, Bennett and Lapid have formed a blocking-group against Netanyahu (see cartoon below). This is odd since Lapid is wildly anti-religious while Bennett is deeply so. They have agreed not to agree on religious issues while forming a coalitional agreement among them on everything else. Can they block Netanyahu and bring new elections?


Netanyahu fights the Lapid-Bennett Unholy Alliance

Netanyahu fights the Lapid-Bennett Unholy Alliance


Netanyahu Strikes Back

About to begin his third term as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu can be blamed for a lot of things, but not for being a rookie. He is not conducting serious negotiations with either Lapid or Bennet; he adopted the "dwarves" approach. Many years ago, Lieutenant General Rafael "Raful" Eitan, who led the First Lebanese War, entered the Knesset with a newly formed party; his name was so attractive to the military-related electorate that he got eight seats in parliament. The new party was mockingly known afterwards as "Raful and the Seven Dwarves," because nobody remembered the names of the other seven members. Netanyahu is now attempting the same gambit but at the government level.

Instead of engaging the Bennet-Lapid Alliance, Netanyahu is conducting negotiations with all other parties even remotely fit to form a coalition with him. Tzipi Livni almost destroyed her former party—Kadima—while failing to achieve any real power. Yet, her six seats may be useful to Netanyahu; she would accept any proposal, otherwise her career is finished. Netanyahu reportedly achieved an agreement with her, though she asked not to be the first partner to be announced. Netanyahu is actively wooing Labor Leader Shelly Yachimovich; however, before the elections she had announced she wouldn’t participate in a government led by Netanyahu and since she is leading the party alone, there is little chance Netanyahu would recruit her 15 seats. Then, Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz leads Kadima; with two seats he doesn't have much weight, but right now little parties are not too shabby for Netanyahu. He may recruit him by offering a merger between Likud and Kadima and a ministerial post for the retired general. All these are not enough for Netanyahu to form a stable coalition, but he keeps another ace up his sleeve.

On several occasions, Netanyahu stated that he didn’t want to form a coalition without the ultra-Orthodox Haredi parties. Shas and United Torah Judaism have 18 seats together, one short of Lapid's party. They are historical partners of both Likud and Labor in their respective coalitions and would be able to adapt to their policies, as long as their interests, mainly the exemption of recruitment for Haredi men, are respected. Thus, Netanyahu has a weak-block of "Netanyahu and the x-dwarves." The million dollar question is how large is this "x;" how many dwarves are hiding behind Netanyahu? Can Netanyahu attempt to convince young Labor members to split their party and join him? This is exactly what Ehud Barak did for the sake of his cherished position as Minister of Defense. It is too early to say; however, the cartoon above is exact. The holy troika of Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett is engaged in a merciless battle for political hegemony; they will stop at nothing. Netanyahu's coup de grâce would be given at the last possible moment, when even President Peres would believe that new elections are the only possible option. After all, that is what he learned at the "Terror Course."

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