The Shakespearean tragedy of Netanyahu - analysis

Had Shakespeare still been around today, he could have written a tragedy about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia September 12, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia September 12, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV)
In the tragedies written by William Shakespeare, the tragic hero struggles internally between good and evil, cursed both by fate and by his fatal flaw.
Had Shakespeare still been around today, he could have written a tragedy about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu will watch Blue and White leader Benny Gantz receive a mandate to form a government on Wednesday night, in what could be a key step toward Netanyahu losing power after 13 years, including more than a decade consecutively.
As with other usurpers to the throne in Shakespeare’s plays, Gantz would not come to power on merit in Netanyahu’s eyes. The man who could become prime minister on a banner of “anyone but Bibi” would emerge victorious mainly because Netanyahu had defeated himself.
The villain in such a play could be Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who stabbed Netanyahu in the back by preventing him from forming a government in May and could help the formation of a government without Netanyahu in December.
But the blame for the backstabbing could be attributed to Netanyahu himself, for repeatedly mistreating his former aide, turned ally, turned sworn enemy and arousing his desire for revenge.
If Arab MKs help Gantz form a government in one way or another, they, too, would be taking sweet revenge against Netanyahu for going too far in riling up the masses against them.
But the main way Netanyahu’s eventual downfall could reach Shakespearean proportions is if it is caused by his criminal cases. Another former trusted aide, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, could indict Netanyahu for bribery, potentially bringing down Netanyahu due to his own hubris and hedonism.
During the 28 days he had to form a government, Netanyahu could potentially have preempted the indictment. But he gambled that Mandelblit would clear him of bribery charges and make it easier for him to build a coalition in the three weeks after Gantz fails.
If Mandelblit’s decision comes earlier than expected and Gantz succeeds in taking advantage and building a coalition while he has the mandate, Netanyahu’s gamble will look very unwise in retrospect.
Like other tragic figures, Netanyahu appears to be proving to be his own worst enemy.
But perhaps, there could be a Shakespearean reversal of fortunes and Netanyahu could be cleared of charges and form a government, in spite of all those hoping to expedite the end of his political career.
If that happens, Netanyahu will not only remain in power, he will also earn his political encore.