Israel just finished its third election cycle within a year, due to its Parliament’s inability to form a government. Covid19, that just recently caused panic all over the world, played well for PM Netanyahu, who pushed his major opponent, Benny Gantz, to the corner, separating Gantz from his old coalition.
Netanyahu had a good week: The Supreme Court of Israel unanimously ruled that despite having charges brought against him for severe corruption crimes, Netanyahu, or Bibi as he’s called by Israelis, can form a government without any legal boundaries.
To summarize Israel’s story this week: Israelis love Bibi as much as they disapprove of the court. This is Netanyahu’s real battlefield: forming a coalition of legal conservatives.
Defense Minister Bennet’s dramatic decision to withdraw from the government and remain a member of the opposition together with former Justice Minister Shaked caused concerns at the PM’s office. It put Netanyahu in a difficult position, forcing him to prevent a right-wing but Bibi-disappointed coalition against him.
It comes down to three major figures: Edelstein, former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset who resigned to please Netanyahu and to sustain unity inside the Likud party, Homeland Security Minister Ardan who seeks a senior role in Netanyahu’s government, and Gideon Sa’ar, former Education and Interior Minister and front-runner against Bibi to become Likud Leader.
A new poll shows that the two figures the public hold to be Bibi’s biggest allies in overcoming the Supreme Court’s leftist agenda are Justice Minister Amir Ohana and former Minister Gideon Sa’ar.
Ohana will probably be appointed Homeland Security Minister due to his background at the Shin Bet. If appointed, Sa’ar will become the “secret sauce” of unity within the Likud’s leadership and can be the factor leading to Netanyahu’s stability at the head of the table.
What will Netanyahu do? Bibi’s criminal trial begins soon. He will need as little background noise challenging his credibility as possible. His test will be if he can overcome past battles to keep the crown attached for years to come.