Reprinted from Gush Shalom
BINYAMIN NETANYAHU seems to be detested now by everyone. Almost as much as his meddling wife, Sarah'le.
Six weeks ago, Netanyahu was the great victor. Contrary to all opinion polls, he achieved a surprise victory at the last moment, winning 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, leaving the Labor Party (re-branded "The Zionist Camp") well behind him.
The extra seats did not come from the Left. They came from his nearest competitors, the Rightist parties.
However, it was a great personal triumph. Netanyahu was on top of his world. Sarah'le was radiant. Netanyahu left no doubt that he was now the master, and that he was determined to order things according to his wishes.
This week he had his comeuppance. On the very last day of the period allotted to him by law to set up his new government, he was near desperation.
AN OLD Hebrew saying puts it succinctly: "Who is a hero? He who turns an enemy into a friend."
In this sense, Netanyahu is an anti-hero. He has a peculiar talent for turning friends into enemies. Sarah'le is a great help in this.
Winston Churchill once advised that at the moment of victory, one should be magnanimous. Magnanimity is not one of Netanyahu's outstanding virtues. He made it clear that he, and he alone, was now the master.
Right after the election Netanyahu decreed that the next government would be a narrow coalition of orthodox and rightist parties, which would be able at long last to do the things he really wants to do: put an end to this two-state nonsense, castrate the Supreme Court, muzzle the media and much more.
Everything went just fine. Netanyahu was invited by the President of the State to form the next government, coalition talks went smoothly, and the contours of the coalition were clear: Likud, the Ashkenazi orthodox Torah party, the Oriental orthodox Shas party, Moshe Kahlon's new economic reform party, Naftali Bennett's nationalist-religious party and Avigdor Lieberman's ultra-rightist party. Altogether: a comfortable 67 of the 120 Knesset members.
Party chiefs don't have to love each other to set up a coalition. They don't even have to like each other. But it is not really very comfortable to sit together in a government when they hate and despise each other.
THE FIRST to throw a bomb was Avigdor Lieberman.
Lieberman is not considered a "real" Israeli. He looks different, speaks with a very thick foreign accent, his mind seems to work in a different way. Although he came to Israel decades ago, he is still considered "a Russian." Actually he came from Soviet Moldavia.
There is a saying that has been attributed to Stalin: Revenge is best served cold. This Tuesday, 48 hours before the end of the time allotted by law to the formation of the new government, Lieberman dropped his bomb.
In the election, Lieberman lost more than half of his strength to Likud, shrinking to six seats. In spite of this, Netanyahu assured him that he could retain his post as Foreign Minister. It was a cheap concession, since Netanyahu makes all important foreign policy decisions himself.