What really worries Netanyahu?

Why is the list losing seats in the polls? Why, instead of the 45 mandates Finkelstein promised Avigdor Liberman, is the joint list now polling closer to 35, and according to some surveys, Likud Beytenu is barely getting 32 seats?

January 17, 2013 21:06
3 minute read.
Netanyahu at weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu at weekly cabinet meeting 370. (photo credit: GPO / Emil Salman)


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The chairman of Likud Beytenu’s election campaign is Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. The chairman of the hasbara campaign is Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. The American strategic adviser is Arthur Finkelstein. They are a triumphant trio. So why is the list losing seats in the polls? Why, instead of the 45 mandates Finkelstein promised Avigdor Liberman, is the joint list now polling closer to 35, and according to some surveys, Likud Beytenu is barely getting 32 seats? Because Sa’ar, Erdan and Finkelstein are irrelevant. It’s all make-believe.

The head of the election campaign, the head of the hasbara campaign, the chief strategist, the director on Election Day, the person responsible for slogans and transport, logistics and water for Likud Beytenu is Binyamin Netanyahu.

He directs everything, determines everything, checks out every detail and decision. And above him there is only one person in the hierarchy, and that is Mrs. Netanyahu. That is how it works.

That is how it worked last time, and the time before, and that, it appears, is the situation now as well.

Here is a monologue by someone on the inside: “It’s impossible to do anything like this. He wants to know everything, intervenes in everything. You agree on something in the evening, but by the morning, he has changed his mind. Nothing is final until it actually happens.

“The atmosphere is of constant panic, chaos, disorder and a terrible mess. Bibi has to approve any ad, which he generally nixes, then changes his mind, and then goes home and changes his mind again, perhaps because of something he heard at home. He causes negative energy.

Everything is completely disorganized, and it is costing us seats, many seats, which is a pity.”

That’s how it’s always been done.

Those with a long-term memory will recall the Likud’s 2009 campaign, when the professionals unveiled a large poster of Tzipi Livni, with the slogan, “Livni, it’s too much for her.”

The campaign was launched, and was then dropped, because Mrs. Netanyahu nixed the poster in which Livni, in her opinion, looked too good. The final decision was hers. Those with a really good memory will remember even further back to the 1999 election, when Netanyahu was trounced by Ehud Barak, after a campaign with the same panic, perspiration and pure chaos.

The problem is that it is not just election campaigns that are managed in this fashion by Netanyahu. This is what his life looks like, his office, and his decision- making process.

That’s what scared off Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and others from working in his office, and that’s what makes every decision, however marginal, a hair-raising adventure in zig-zags.

This is the man who is supposed to take the most fateful decision regarding Iran. Then, after taking the decision, Natan Eshel will emerge from the darkness, with a camera, and pass the prime minister a note, and he will panic, make some calls, run around, regret his decision, and change his mind, over and over again.

What else is happening in the crazy atmosphere surrounding the prime minister these days? He is nervous, irritated, fearful that Shelly Yacimovich will be prime minister.

How, in heaven’s name, can she be prime minister? Here is how: She will win more than 20 seats, make a deal (if she hasn’t already) with Bennett and Shas (the Left will, in any case, support her), and then Netanyahu loses. The end of the Jewish state as we know it! And Sara Netanyahu will have to leave the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street, which will pose the biggest danger. This is the reason that Netanyahu is now investing a huge amount of energy to ensure Yacimovich receives less than 17 seats.

In his opinion, if she receives 16 seats or less, her leadership of the party will be weakened, and who knows, maybe Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer or Isaac “Buji” Herzog might be able to persuade her to join the government after all, crawling with her tail between her legs.

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