When Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid was told good morning by interviewer Lucy Aharish on Democrat TV Tuesday morning, his candid response was, “I don’t know. It was a tough night.”
By contrast, Likud MKs were on such a high that they could not go to sleep after defeating Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government in two key votes on Monday night.
But the truth is that both sides went into Monday night’s votes with a clear goal, and they both failed.
The goal of the coalition was to scare possible rebels into obedience. Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar started his scare campaign well in advance, warning the rebels that they would bring the government down. In an effort to frighten them further, he even left open the possibility of enabling the formation of an alternative coalition in the current Knesset.
After Sa’ar did not succeed at stopping the rebellions, he walked back his apparent flexibility on an alternative government led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in interviews with all three prime-time newscasts on Tuesday night.
The goal of the Likud was to humiliate Bennett and Sa’ar so much that their government would collapse, and they would bring their Yamina and New Hope parties into a Netanyahu-led government without going to elections. They applauded when former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman voted with them for the first time, as if her appointment as a minister in a Likud-led government was imminent.
But the Likud MKs apparently went overboard and scared Sa’ar away. Netanyahu told his MKs not to insult Sa’ar or his family. But MK Galit Distal Atbaryan mocked the ratings of Sa’ar’s wife, KAN News anchorwoman Geula Even-Sa’ar from the Knesset rostrum, and MK David Amsalem did not restrain himself either.
Sa’ar said Tuesday night that the behavior of the Likud MKs reminded him why they cannot be allowed to return back to power.
That means it is back to the drawing board for both sides.
The coalition will try to get rid of its rebels and bring the West Bank emergency bill back to a vote by the June 30 deadline. There is plenty of time left to entice Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi and Ra’am (United Arab List) MK Mazen Ghanaim to resign and to have Silman declared a defector and force her to quit in order to run for the next Knesset with Likud.
Looking ahead to elections
The Likud’s only alternative left is to force an election, which has not been looking like such a bad option in recent polls.
A Kantar Institute poll broadcast on KAN News Tuesday night predicted 60 seats for the Likud and its allies in the Religious Zionist Party, Shas and United Torah Judaism. The Likud was predicted to win 35 seats, Religious Zionist Party 10, and Sa’ar’s New Hope did not cross the electoral threshold in the poll.
The Likud would only need to increase voter turnout to obtain a blocking majority and win the election.
If that happens, it will be clear who succeeded and who had a truly tough night.