Will Rivlin use this election for revenge against Netanyahu? - Analysis

Rivlin may be getting another chance to take Netanyahu's job away.

September 17, 2019 23:15
2 minute read.
PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu face off at the President’s residence

PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu face off at the President’s residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday night. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Imagine that you are 80 years old and have devoted your life to a cause that your father and grandfather believed in, and then a rival turned your cause upside down in a way you find abhorrent.

Now imagine that the same rival did everything possible to prevent you from getting your dream job, including trying to destroy the job itself. Then you had a chance to take away his job, but you didn’t, and then he used his post to make the entire country suffer. But now you get another chance to take his job away, and in your view, permit your country to have the healing you believe it desperately needs.

Welcome to the world of President Reuven Rivlin, who turned 80 on September 9. His cause was the ideology of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who was the ideological mentor of the Likud’s forerunners. Rivlin believes the glory of Jabotinsky’s movement has been tarnished by Netanyahu’s attacks on the institutions of the state and the Arab minority.

Netanyahu tried to abolish the presidency after asking many people, including the late author Elie Wiesel, to run against Rivlin. When asked if he was disappointed that Netanyahu did not return the mandate to him after failing to form a government in May and initiated elections instead, Rivlin would only say he was “surprised.”

But the look on his face when answering anchorwoman Yonit Levi’s question at Channel 12’s conference showed that he was not only disappointed, he was furious.

With that in mind, it would have been wonderful to be a fly on the wall of the polling station at the school in Jerusalem’s Yefei Nof neighborhood, where Rivlin cast his ballot. Did he vote for the Likud he helped found, or did his disgust overpower him, as it did for other former Likud ministers like Bennie Begin and Michael Eitan?

Perhaps we will know by October 2, when Rivlin is expected to task a candidate with forming a government on the same day when Netanyahu’s criminal hearing will be held. “I will do everything in my power to ensure a government will be formed as fast as possible that will prevent, God forbid, additional elections,” Rivlin said on Facebook, in a message that sounded like a prayer that voters not make him give Netanyahu the mandate again.

Regardless of the results of Tuesday’s election, he has many reasons to grant the mandate to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. If the Joint List and Yisrael Beytenu recommend Gantz, Rivlin won’t have any explaining to do. But if the exit polls are wrong and Netanyahu and his right-wing allies won 61 seats, he will have no choice but to enable him to form a government again. And Rivlin will not end up getting his revenge.

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