Will Netanyahu bring down Yuli Edelstein with him? - Analysis

Edelstein, who lived in Gush Etzion for 20 years, thereby joined the community of accused "left-wing traitors" that includes hawks like Gideon Sa'ar, Moshe Ya'alon and President Reuven Rivlin.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Yuli Edelstein at swearing in of 21st Knesset (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Yuli Edelstein at swearing in of 21st Knesset
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In the Book of Judges, mighty Samson used the last of his strength to take revenge and kill his Philistine enemies, who tormented him by bringing down the prison house where they had come to watch him suffer.
“Let my soul die with the Philistines,” Samson said, in what has become an expression used to describe politicians who are determined to take their adversaries down with them.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also was once politically all-powerful.
While Samson fell to vices of wine and haircuts, Netanyahu has been indicted due to his penchant for expensive cigars and obsession with press coverage.
Netanyahu is currently fighting an unwinnable battle for parliamentary immunity from prosecution. He never really had a chance to obtain immunity. But he can achieve his goal of postponing his criminal trial, which was the point of his pursuit of immunity to begin with. And now Netanyahu can accomplish one more goal: He can bring down with him his No. 2 in Likud, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Edelstein dared come close to following proper procedure when he announced on Sunday that he would convene the Knesset plenum on January 28 to approve the formation of a House Committee that will reject Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution in his criminal cases. He actually had to convene the plenum sooner, and he made an effort to assist Netanyahu by helping him stall for two weeks.
However, within an hour of Edelstein’s announcement, Netanyahu’s son Yair was already attacking the Knesset speaker on Twitter. It was one thing to note that Edelstein’s father-in-law, oligarch Leonid Nevzlin, was accused of murder in Russia. But Yair went for the jugular when he noted that Nevzlin is a primary investor in the newspaper that many right-wingers love to hate, Haaretz. Yair said Nevzlin keeps Haaretz alive, which is enough to make some right-wingers want the opposite for Edelstein.
Edelstein, who lived in Gush Etzion for 20 years, thereby joined the community of accused “left-wing traitors,” which includes hawks like Gideon Sa’ar, Moshe Ya’alon and President Reuven Rivlin.
If Edelstein intended to seek the presidency in the election that is set to take place in July 2021, Netanyahu’s associates have said he better cancel the Knesset plenum meeting.
Edelstein, who was among the last Prisoners of Zion in the Soviet Union, will not succumb to such pressure. He was under pressure from both sides of the political map on the immunity issue and could have quit his post to avoid making a decision. But he stayed, knowing full well what he was up against.
It is still possible for Netanyahu to avoid the rejection of his immunity request. He could stall enough time with appeals to the Supreme Court, knowing that if the vote comes too close to the election, the Knesset’s legal advisers could prevent it from happening. Former welfare minister Haim Katz asked for immunity six days before the September election, and the matter was not dealt with due to the proximity of Israelis going to the polls.
Netanyahu could also rescind the request to grant him immunity and avoid the pictures of him losing a vote.
But he could also purposely allow the vote to take place and use it to win support among his defiant right-wing constituency that is upset with the legal establishment and with elites taking too much power.
If Netanyahu does that effectively, he could be able to stay in power with renewed strength. Perhaps he will not have to bring down the house with him after all.