Analysis: Netanyahu - Strong due to coalition's weakness

Analysis Netanyahu - St

netanyahu please listen to me 248 88 AP (photo credit: )
netanyahu please listen to me 248 88 AP
(photo credit: )
According to Czech-born psychologist Max Wertheimer's Gestalt theory, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When it comes to coalition governments in Israel, the whole is ironically as strong as the weakness of its parts. What kept former prime minister Ehud Olmert in power even when he had 3 percent approval ratings was that he had coalition partners like Labor and the Pensioners Party who knew their parties would be destroyed by an election. Last February's election was only initiated when then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu persuaded Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that his party would be stronger after the vote than before. Just in case, Netanyahu even hoodwinked poor old Pensioners leader Rafi Eitan by promising him that he would make him a cabinet minister even if his party did not pass the 2% electoral threshold. That promise was later conveniently discarded. But never has this theory been truer than in Netanyahu's current coalition, which is so weak that he could end up becoming only the second prime minister in Israel's history to complete an entire term in office and hold on-time elections, which would only take place in November 2013. Netanyahu's government is strong because all of his coalition partners are walking, talking political carrion. There's Labor's Ehud Barak, whose party is crumbling day by day. Anyone who thought the party hit rock bottom with the seven seats predicted for it in the October 23 Dahaf Institute poll, was proven mistaken by the six seats in the Dialog Institute's poll published Friday. Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman might be indicted by the time Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz leaves office in January. Shas chairman Eli Yishai may face a serious challenge from his predecessor, Aryeh Deri, who could unseat Yishai or split his vote with a new party. Habayit Hayehudi's Daniel Herschkowitz is a very nice man with absolutely no political future. Only United Torah Judaism has its mandates guaranteed by the birthrate of its constituents, but its leader, Ya'acov Litzman, seems enamored with the Health portfolio he desperately tried to avoid taking. With a coalition like that, there might never be an election. But the inherent instability of Israeli politics requires constant work to keep all of a coalition's parts satisfied. That's what happened on Monday when Netanyahu put Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's plan to split the powers of the attorney-general in deep freeze. The prime minister sacrificed Neeman in order to strengthen Barak, whose constituents are as unified against splitting the attorney-general's job as they are divided about splitting the party. The only current threat to Netanyahu's coalition is that Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon will join the Labor rebels, giving them the fifth lawmaker needed to legally split the party and obtain public funding. If the split happens, it will be difficult for Netanyahu to justify letting Barak keep five portfolios and two deputies for a faction of eight MKs. With the only real threat to Netanyahu coming from the Left, don't be surprised to see his policies shift accordingly. He will seek negotiations with Syria just a week after tons of rockets are confiscated on the way to Hizbullah, freeze construction of Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, and perhaps even remove outposts if that's what makes Ben-Simon happy. Netanyahu will continue in that direction until that threat has been eased, or until someone on the Right decides to flex his muscles in a more serious way than Lieberman did in Monday's Knesset press conference in which he made demands for funding for immigrants that were accepted within 90 minutes. Until the Right gets stronger, starts protesting in a serious way and poses a legitimate threat to Netanyahu's whole, his coalition will continue to be strong, at least as strong as the weakness of its parts.