The decision to dissolve Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, less than a month and a half after the General Election, and hold another election on 17 September, suggests strongly that the country has lost its equilibrium. There may be other reasons for this, but I suspect that it is all about the predominance of selfish motives among Israeli decision-makers, especially in Avigdor Lieberman’s case. He will go down in history as leading Israel to early elections twice in the same month. In the first instance, he claimed that the government had surrendered to Hamas, and in the second he claimed that it had surrendered to the Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews).
#IsraElex19: Israeli Elections 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks immediately after the announcement of the Knesset’s dissolution were significant, as they indicated the truth about what had happened and the consequences. The Prime Minister was shocked and unconvinced that Lieberman would do what he did. He admitted that he did not understand what was happening at the beginning. In doing so, he basically admitted his failure to understand his natural partner, labelling him as part of the left wing, which is not only a ludicrous suggestion but also the worst thing you could say about anyone in Israel these days. This shows that Netanyahu has also lost his sense of balance, as Lieberman is far from a leftist.
The most important thing about Netanyahu’s comments is that he did not mention the extent of the damage that will be caused by dissolving the Knesset and going through another election campaign during what is a very volatile political period in the region. Trump’s “deal of the century” will be revealed soon, and the dissolution of the Knesset could see it delayed yet again, or even disabled, thus depriving Israel of the true purpose of the deal, which is to blame the Palestinians for rejecting a “chance for peace”. Instead, we will see that it is actually Israel which rejects such opportunities. The Trump deal would legitimise Israel’s actions, as without Palestinian backing it could still claim that it has no partner in the peace process.
In his efforts to condemn Lieberman’s “insane” move, Netanyahu failed to mention that undermining Israel’s political stability will also have a negative impact in trying to confront Iran, especially given the ongoing escalation in the Gulf.
Why didn’t Netanyahu address such matters? Perhaps he lost his own equilibrium in the shock of dissolving the Knesset and was unable to summon up the intellectual, political and rhetorical powers to help him. Or it could be because the excuses of Iran and the forthcoming “deal of the century” are being used to disguise the real domestic and foreign policies of the racist state.
This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 30 May 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.