Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attacked publicly the possibility of a minority government of his rival Blue-White that would be dependent on the Joint List of Palestinians parties, crying (Hebrew) that the Blue White leadership “has lost its mind, stop this madness.”
Netanyahu said this in a video on his Facebook page. There is to be an emergency rally against the inclusion of Palestinian parties tonight in Israel.
Prior to the video, the PM held a conversation with several of his eunuc… err, ministers, bemoaning the possibility of such a minority government. According to several reports, pounced upon by the opposition, Netanyahu called upon his followers to “burn it all down” should a minority government with the Joint List actually be created. Netanyahu, who is widely considered to be a notorious liar whose word means nothing, denied making such a call.
The “burn it all down” call came a day after one of Netanyahu’s hardline followers, Ran Carmi Buzaglo, hinted at a civil war should Netanyahu be indicted. It is unclear what army Buzaglo intends to use in this civil war; as he made threats against the State’s Attorney over the indictment in an interview. However, he is expected to be interrogated soon.
An indictment is expected, and according to unconfirmed reports, Netanyahu was informed yesterday (Friday) that the indictment would come on Tuesday. While there is no confirmation, Likud has attempted to register to lead a demonstration in front of the house of the Government’s Counsel on Monday, an attempt rebuffed by the police. The police has strictly limited the right of demonstration in front of the GC’s house for the past two years, often using brutal force to enforce the limitations.
But while everyone expects an indictment against Netanyahu, the idea of a Blue White/Joint List minority government is a dark horse. It is theoretically possible. Both Netanyahu and Benny Gantz of Blue White command only minorities of the Knesset, 55 and 44 seats out of 120 respectively. Gantz could theoretically govern with a minority coalition since a vote of no-confidence from the Knesset requires a majority of 61 votes and an alternate candidate presented by the opposition. But his government would first have to pass the threshhold of a majority confidence vote, and it is not at all certain that a Blue White-Joint List coalition could muster the votes. It must have the support of Avigdor Liberman (eight seats) and most members of the Joint List (as many as 13 seats). Rumors have it that Balad, a member of the Joint List with three seats, would not support a government that contains Liberman’s Yisrael Beteinu party, given Liberman’s many racist statements. All we know is that every vote would count if Gantz tried to pull off a minority government.
But, while the option seemed like a mirage just a week ago, Blue-White admitted following Netanyahu’s meltdown that they are considering the option. Blue-White’s leader, Benny Gantz, met with President Rivlin today for a 90-minute conversation, the details of which are unknown.
Gantz has four days remaining to either present the Knesset with a government (which it may then accept or reject), or return the mandate to form a government to the President. Should the latter happen, the Knesset will have 21 days to somehow appoint one of its members a Prime Minister, or dissolve and call a new general election – the third within a year.
It is not at all clear Blue White will indeed attempt a coalition with the Joint List. As some Israeli centrists have declared that they cannot accept such a coalition. And Netanyahu is doing the best he can to stir hatred and racism so as to prevent it. But this year was very strange politically. Nobody predicted that the April elections will lead to new elections.
And there is a strong feeling of Netanyahu-fatigue. We’ll know for sure within a few days. Likud either takes the possibility of such a government seriously or pretends to: It would hold an emergency rally against a minority government supported by the Arab parties on Sunday at 18:00.
But a Netanyahu indictment on Tuesday, and a Jewish-Palestinian coalition on Wednesday would be something to behold.