Yisrael Beitenu Chairman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (currently under investigation on various corruption charges) is convinced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce early general elections the minute an indictment is issued against him, which will make it difficult for Lieberman to wage an effective campaign, and ultimately cost him votes.
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai is convinced that Netanyahu will disperse the Knesset if Tzipi Livni is re-elected to head Kadima in the upcoming primary. With Livni at the helm, the ultra-Orthodox parties won’t try to avoid early elections by forming a coalition with Kadima. Kadima is also worried that Netanyahu will announce elections now, with their popularity at an all-time low.
When early elections are a cause for concern for so many people, it is no wonder that suspicions are running rampant and speculations are moving further and further from reality.
Many international experts and defense analysts believe that one of the things that could nudge Europe toward harsher Iran sanctions is an Israeli uproar. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have done their part in fanning the flames with constant hints that Israel sees a military strike on Iran as feasible, and something that could happen any day. The same method works in the political system: The threat of early elections actually serves to maintain calm. The parties do feel the tension, as they should after almost three years in power, but everyone is on their best behavior, demonstrating how compliant they are and how elections are unnecessary at this time.
It is no coincidence that every threat by Lieberman, be it against the Tal Law or against housing subsidies, ends with a declaration that the government will live out its full term. This way he can have it both ways: pray that elections won’t be held early and declare that it was his initiative if they are in fact held early.
The Likud primary on Tuesday proved that nothing changed. The balance of power remained virtually as it was and the party’s platform didn’t budge an inch to the Left or the Tight. Netanyahu’s only rival Moshe Feiglin won a slightly lower percentage than he did in the last primary (in 2007) but in terms of absolute votes, he increased his support. MKs that rushed to his doorstep last time will most likely dance around him obsequiously next time around as well.
Feiglin is not a phenomenon, as he is being portrayed by his rivals’ supporters. He is not imploding, nor is he gaining speed, as others say. He is a politician, a serious ideologue and a little eccentric. In the army there is a term for people like him: not helpful-not harmful.