Reports in the Israeli media suggest that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has no control” over Likud, the party that he is supposed to lead. The daily Yedioth Ahronoth has claimed that Netanyahu withdrew his preferred candidate from the party’s internal elections at the last minute fearing that he would lose. The prime minister’s problems within his own party are, claims the newspaper, “endless”. Such issues are dominating the headlines in Israel.
The election for Likud president will be held next Sunday. It is widely expected that Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon will be elected unopposed by any candidate nominated by Netanyahu, “who has no control” over the party. Officials in Likud told the media that the party is of no interest to Netanyahu any more, having become a “heavy burden”.
The result, claims Aluf Benn writing in Haaretz, is that Netanyahu is ready to strike out for peace with the Palestinians and return to negotiations. According to Benn, “boredom and loneliness” with and within Likud’s internal affairs have led to this loss of control. On top of that, the prime minister’s warnings about the perceived threat from Iran no longer get the attention that he thinks they deserve from a public “focused on the economic situation” in Israel. The election of Hassan Rohani as President of Iran has increased Netanyahu’s fear of a deal being struck between Washington and Tehran at Israel’s expense, Benn says.
On coalition issues, the Haaretz commentator believes that Netanyahu wants to break the alliance between Yesh Atid Party and the Jewish Home Party “because one supports the idea of a Palestinian state while the other opposes it strongly”. Add to this Netanyahu’s concern about the increasing international isolation of Israel, and his own political isolation becomes ever more obvious.