A game of musical chairs
How many times during these 14 days will the prime minister decide to call early elections and then change his mind? And again decide, and change his mind again.
Netanyahu Photo: REUTERS
Within two weeks, the prime minister said, he will “decide” whether he’ll call
early elections in February or March or end his term on time. Anyone who knows
Binyamin Netanyahu knows exactly how these two weeks will look, how frightening
and sweaty they will be, until he decides.
How many times during these 14
days will he decide and then change his mind? And again decide, and change his
He will hold countless debates and discussions and
consultations, in private and with all, in meeting rooms and smoking areas,
during the day and night, in which all possible scenarios will be presented, as
well as those that are impossible, but should be presented anyway. And he
also will have, of course, phone calls. Many of these will be held in
On the line, across the sea, will be patrons, each with his own
size of contribution, to have his say in the ear of the
More interesting than the others will be the one held
with an old, aggressive billionaire, the man who really makes a
His resounding voice will perhaps urge the prime minister to
cut to the chase as soon as possible, because it’s not certain that “our guy” –
he means Mitt Romney – will win in the two next debates with President Barack
Obama (although victory in the first debate is considered a miracle), so maybe
it is better to minimize the damages and to hold elections now.
not the time to up the bet, even though the interlocutor in this conversation
actually knows a lot about gambling.
Envoys will arrive to meet the prime
minister, rushed, panting, trying, each one in turn, to be “the last who
whispered in his ear,” because anyone who knows the prime minister knows that at
the end of the day, the lucky last one to enter his room and scare him with
something will be the one to divert the train onto the right track.
minutes after he gets on it, Netanyahu will be already looking for a way to
escape it, just as he had done dozens of times in his career, just as he
zigzagged himself throughout his life, saying something, intending something
else, and winking wistfully back, maybe because the lady said something that
sounds like disqualifying the option he selected.
He has already decided,
you say? Elections in February? Probably. Still, this was also said last time,
when the Knesset had already decided on the date of the elections (this past
September 4), and the campaign began, and then, late at night, he panicked, or
got persuaded, or received a surprising phone call from Sheldon Adelson, and
built a surreal coalition with Kadima, only to find himself now in the same
Yet there is a difference between this time and last
time. Then, everything was up to Netanyahu. He had pulled a rabbit out of the
hat (Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz). Today, it is still up to him, but less so.
There are no rabbits, and more important, he has no state budget.
the prevailing view is that Bibi will be the next prime minister, few of his
coalition partners want to quarrel with him, and therefore, if he exerts all his
influence and sweats and shakes and threatens, he will be able to pass the 2013
The question is, what for? If he wins elections in February, he
will have to pass a budget, and it will be more difficult then than now, with
larger and deeper cuts and the same responsibility imposed on him again and his
new term will begin in a swamp that will be difficult to escape.
fun it won’t be. So it is actually a game of musical chairs. None of the players
in the current coalition, including the Likud, has a real interest in going to
On the other hand, no one has an interest in giving up
the gains it brought its voters during the current term.
If the budget
passes (instead of elections being called), everyone will blame everyone else
for the declarations meted out to the public, and if there isn’t a budget, here
will be exactly the same scenario. Everyone will blame everyone else for
dragging the country to elections during this sorry state of affairs. So what is
the bottom line? Elections in February? Well, that’s not certain.
sooner, in January!