Expected Obstacles Facing Netanyahu: Will His Government See the Light?
By Jihad Haidar
The “Israeli” entity’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces plenty of challenges that trips his way to return to the position of prime minister, wherein local, regional and international obstacles overlap. However, the general feature that characterizes he government formation process is familiar in the “Israeli” arena. What’s happening is a dispute or competition within the same camp, which may escalate later to much more intensive levels. The central question arising is: “Can this roll down to the extent of Netanyahu’s failure to return at the head of a right-winged government to the front of the political scene?”
The fact to be always taken into consideration in the background of any approach is that the right-wing camp is dominant in this Knesset and what preceded it for more than two decades. Yet, the schism inside the right-wing camp was the barrier to forming a stable right-wing government in recent years. The argument revolves around different affairs with the most debatable was Netanyahu being a prime minister on the background of his accusation of bribery and corruption.
During the recent elections, the Netanyahu camp succeeded in obtaining 65 Knesset members, allowing it to form a stable government, theoretically capable of completing its term until 2026. However, within this camp there are also some differences in interests and priorities.
These discrepancies were reflected in the demands of Netanyahu's allies on the religious right for some sensitive ministerial portfolios that have direct contact with the Palestinian and regional reality. The existing fear is that the performance of the ministers who assume it will leave repercussions that will exacerbate the security situation on the Palestinian and regional arenas, and confuse the policies of the Biden administration at this stage.
The most prominent ministerial portfolios around which the dispute revolves are Security [Ministry of War], Internal Security [Ministry of Police], and Ministry of Finance. The head of “Religious Zionism” Bezalel Smotrich demands security and finance portfolios, while leader of “Jewish Power” [Otzma Yehudit] Itamar Ben-Gvir’s demands internal security. Accordingly, the head of “Shas” Aryeh Deri insists on taking the charge of the entity’s Ministry of Finance.
On the other side, Netanyahu refuses to grant the security portfolio to Smotrich for a number of considerations. He fears the extremist decisions Smortich due to the powers he enjoys in current security issues. He may thus impose field and strategic realities that contradict the perceptions of Netanyahu and the US. In addition, the position makes him one of the three pillars of making any decision on war, along with the Chief of Staff and Prime Minister.
It is also likely that there will be pressure from within the military establishment on Netanyahu in order for Smotrich not to take over the Ministry of Security; in addition to the fact that American messages, as reported by “Israeli” media, confirmed that they will not deal with the portfolios held by Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. Against this background, Netanyahu told the first that he could not give him this portfolio because of the American position.
Despite the crises he faces, one should not rush to estimate that Netanyahu will necessarily fail to form a government. This scenario is highly unlikely, especially since his camp realizes that the alternative is to a government composed of them, either a government headed by Netanyahu with other right-wing parties, or going to additional early elections, and it is not guaranteed that they will succeed in repeating the same victory.
It is no secret that the best scenario for Netanyahu lies in the participation of right-wing parties from his traditional opponents in the government, because this weakens the extortion policy pursued by religious Zionism, and provides the government with a parliamentary base that secures its continuity. But until now, these opponents are prisoners of their slogans and positions that they launched in previous years by announcing their refusal to join a government headed by Netanyahu, and they caused a state of government instability and the entry of "Israel" into early open elections. However, “Israeli” reports stated that there is US pressure pushing in this direction.
Without excluding any surprises, as the experiences of the past three years have proven, they are crystallized by paths that are being ripened away from the limelight, and may or may not succeed. It is very likely that Netanyahu is the next prime minister. He still has more time to exhaust the legal period, 28 + 14 = 42 days. In addition, it is not surprising that Netanyahu is facing obstacles and blackmail attempts from his allies.
What reinforces this assessment is that all this crisis can be resolved by Deri's abandonment of the finance portfolio that Smotrich is satisfied with. The former can be satisfied with any portfolio with broad powers and financial aid to Haredi institutions, which are usually the target of extortion from the “Shas” and “United Torah Judaism” parties, which remain silent because they do not participate in the government at the ministerial level. This is in addition to other scenarios of solutions, all of which are not out of reach. Rather, what we are witnessing is closer to maneuvers in the context of the blackmail policy that usually characterizes efforts to form governments within the “Israeli” entity.