Is Netanyahu era coming to an end? Observers say it could be soon

Netanyahu has been counted out before, but this time the end may really be on the horizon, observers say.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

A confluence of events could lead to the end of the Netanyahu era, said Prof. Avraham Diskin at a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

“There is a possibility of rebellion against Netanyahu within the Likud if [Benny] Gantz [leader of rival party Blue and White] gets the majority,” Diskin told World Israel News.

Diskin, a professor (emeritus) of the political science department at Hebrew University, has been observing Israeli politics since 1977.

“There is a risk. The question is if there’s no 61 majority for the Right and Blue and White comes out on top,” Diskin said.

At that point, it all depends on President Reuven Rivlin, “who has very tense relations with Netanyahu.”

“If these two conditions will occur, there’s a very good chance Rivlin will nominate Gantz,” Diskin said. “But that’s not the end of the road. Gantz has problems. He can’t form a coalition without defectors from the Right.”

Emmanuel Navon, senior fellow of the Kohelet Forum, tells World Israel News that it’s unlikely that Netanyahu will reach a majority of 61 Knesset seats.

“Even 61 is a nightmare coalition,” Navon said, “a fact to which Netanyahu himself can testify as he led such a narrow majority after the 2015 elections… It’s unmanageable.”

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While it’s impossible to count Netanyahu out, as “he’s been declared defeated so many times and he always comes out on top,” Navon says that this time might be different.

The reason is Avigdor Liberman of the Israel Beiteinu party. He defected from the Right, and is out to get Netanyahu, Navon says.

Navon also says that Likud party members are tired of Netanyahu. “They all want to get rid of him,” he says. “All those young people in Likud want to finally get a real job.”

“They won’t say it, of course,” Navon said. “I’m telling you about what’s happening behind doors.”

“When will be the ‘Brutus moment’? The moment when Brutus kills Caesar? There are two conditions for that: A) If he doesn’t get his 61, and B) If Likud gets behind Blue and White by two or three seats. If you have those conditions, people in Likud will start pulling their knives,” Navon said.

“The only reason they kept quiet is because he was bringing victory,” Navon said.

Diskin agrees that the Netanyahu era could be coming to an end.

“One of the potential successors [of Netanyahu] called me about a week ago. He asked, ‘What do you think? Is there a chance that we’ll not have 61?’ Why do people ask me such questions? Because they have something in mind,” Diskin said.

Prof. Assaf Shapira of the Israel Democracy Institute, tells World Israel News that he doesn’t see a process by which Netanyahu is replaced happening easily.

“It can only happen if they see no other way to form a government. It would happen in the last moments if President Rivlin says they see no way to form a government,” Shapira said, referring to the period following the election when coalition negotiations take place.

“The Likud is a loyal party,” he said, noting that no Likud leader has been pushed out. “They’ve all retired.”

Shapira also said that “Netanyahu has eliminated all the competition. There’s always been a healthy opposition within the party. There’s no such internal opposition today.”

On Monday, Kan Reshet Bet reported that Netanyahu’s inner circle is concerned for the first time that the Likud party will move to replace him.