Israel’s government on verge of collapse as PM Netanyahu’s ratings continue to fall

netanyahu in hot waterIsrael’s government was on the verge of collapse Sunday night as a split over a controversial new law designating the country as a Jewish state deepened into an all-out assault by cabinet rivals on Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister.

Mr. Netanyahu signalled that he was ready to call an early general election to stifle the rebellion, led by ministers from centrist coalition partners to his right-wing Likud Party.

He lashed out angrily after his finance minister, Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid party, publicly accused him of playing “petty politics” while ignoring weighty issues such as the budget and Israel’s foreign relations, in the latest of a series of rancorous exchanges.

“Recently, hardly a day passes without us running into diktats or threats of resignation, or ultimatums and such, as ministers attack the government and its prime minister,” Mr. Netanyahu told Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“I hope that we will be able to return to proper conduct. This is what the public expects of us because only thus is it possible to run the country, and if not, we will draw conclusions.”

His comments were the clearest sign yet that the country was heading toward an early election, less than two years after Mr. Netanyahu formed a mostly right-wing coalition in which Mr. Lapid headed the second-biggest party.

The combative Mr. Netanyahu has faced falling approval ratings but opinion surveys indicate that Likud would again emerge as the largest party in a fresh poll, giving him a fourth term as premier. After days of talk of a “coalition crisis,” sources close to the Israeli leader said the country was “98% into an election,” the liberal newspaperHaaretz reported.

The open talk of an election followed threats from Tzipi Livni, the justice minister, and Mr. Lapid to resign if a controversial bill to declare Israel “the nation state of the Jewish people” became law.

Although its 1948 Declaration of Independence already does this, critics say enshrining it in law would undermine Israel’s democratic character, enrage the country’s Arab minority, and possibly enable future illiberal legislation.

The prime minister says the law is necessary to fend off Palestinian opposition to Jews’ right to live in Israel, but Mr. Lapid and Ms. Livni say it is a threat to the country’s democratic character since it would reduce Arabs to second-class citizenship, and that it has been introduced for electioneering purposes.

Amid the political manoeuvring, a parliamentary vote on the bill scheduled for Wednesday is likely to be postponed, government insiders suggested.

The cabinet approved the Jewish nation state bill last week against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Jews and Arabs and outbreaks of anti-Arab racism. On Saturday, arsonists attacked a mixed school in Jerusalem that promotes coexistence between the two communities.

In an unabashed personal attack, Mr. Lapid told an audience in Tel Aviv on the weekend that he had not spoken to Mr. Netanyahu outside cabinet meetings for five weeks.

“The major issues are stuck and the prime minister isn’t doing anything about the state budget, Israel’s international relations, personal security and housing,” he said. “Instead we are dealing with the pettiest of politics.

“The prime minister needs to decide that he doesn’t want elections. This crisis can be solved in a conversation between us.”

Nahum Barnea, an influential columnist with the mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, criticized the prime minister in even more vitriolic terms, writing: “He has gone into what people who know much more than me about psychology call a manic-depressive state. There are ministers who are certain that he is no longer functional.”

A new opinion poll published Sunday in the Haaretz daily provided little incentive for anyone to head to elections, though.

Asked which politician is most suited to be prime minister, 35% of respondents said they favoured Mr. Netanyahu, down from 42% in August, after a war against militants in the Gaza Strip. It said 38% were satisfied with his performance, down from 77% in early August. Forty-seven per cent said Mr. Netanyahu should step down before the next elections to allow someone else to hold the top job.

Yet the same poll showed shrinking support for Mr. Lapid, Ms. Livni and the opposition Labor Party. And the fact that the more liberal side of the map is split into three main parties also creates awkwardness for the opposition and may be preventing momentum for change.

The only party that showed gains was the hard-line “Jewish Home.”

One wild card is the possible entrance to the race by Moshe Kahlon, a former member of the Likud Party who has combined an agenda favouring middle-class economic issues with a tough policy on security matters, and who could, some believe, ultimately throw his weight behind a different prime ministerial prospect than the Mr. Netanyahu. He is polling around 10% in most surveys.

The poll interviewed 511 people and had a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

Reuven Hazan, a political scientist at the Hebrew University, said it is not in anyone’s interest, except perhaps Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, to push for new elections.

“But politics is not always rational, and sometimes the dynamics of hatred, the statements made off camera, they tend to take on a life of their own,” he said.

“Netanyahu is unliked by most Israeli voters,” he added. “But there isn’t anyone else to challenge him.”


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  • Robert Skinner

    Regardless of what Israel does, Netanyahu should have a fair trial for crimes against humanity.
    Israel has earned it’s boycott. Its good for us (USA) to boycott Israel. Israeli human rights violations are more than reason enough to boycott Israel but its also good for American democracy, here’s why. AIPAC the Israeli lobby is the most powerful lobby in America. Result our government AKA congress supports Israel above our own laws, treaties and basic values. We have laws that say we cannot sell weapons to nations with a history of human rights violations and laws that say we cannot sell weapons to nuclear armed nations who have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. We also signed the geneva convention , so did Israel. Israeli squatters AKA settlements are in violation of the 4th geneva convention art 49. Our values Liberty and Justice for all. Our government prevents Israel from facing up in the UN. Were an Israeli veto for punitive actions against Israeli crimes.
    Boycotting Israel should debase AIPAC’s power in our government enhancing our ability to elect people that support our own laws, treaties and values.

    • Robert Skinner

      Boycotting Israel is easy. Check “youtube bUycott Israel”. It’s a app for smart phones . Makes it possible to scan barcodes with your smart phone. When I first started using the app I needed to scan a lot of stuff but as Time went on I learned whats ok and whats not so I dont need to scan as much stuff anymore. One way I look at the app is it’s a better vote than what I can do in the voting booth. In my district both GOP and Dems are sold out to AIPAC. So voting for the less of two evils means I vote for someone supporting crimes against humanity. As much as I wold like to vote for someone for congress I can’t. Cant cast a vote for someone who supports crimes against humanity. But I can boycott.

    • Hind Abyad

      Men like Israel Shahak are a disappearing race, Zionist government school curriculum is total manipulation of the brain, no free thinking allowed, education is based on revision of history creating killers and supremacy. Zionism is now at the peek, in critical stage of mental disease. Yosef Gaspi said in an article Haaretz 1998-89: –

      • Patience2

        What you are saying seems (to me at least) to describe your average madrassa, too.

        • Hind Abyad

          Your blinded face tells about your own madrassa, too. What’s a madrassa, the convent madrassa, the monastery madrassa? Or a name you copied from the West… huh?

          • 5thDrawer

            Oh Hind .. you know what he meant … ALL the ‘Indoctrination Schools’ should be shuttered.

          • Hind Abyad

            OK..if you say so.. you’re too kind but that’s not what he ment. I would like him to answer what’s a madrassa.

          • 5thDrawer

            I wonder why they keep worrying about building houses … I can see a day that it becomes like Lebanon and all the brains wishing to think, work, and act freely in a Democracy begin diving out of the place.
            Perhaps the developers will realize the need to sell to ‘the others’ finally. :-))
            (Call me a prophet if you like … I won’t be around to see it… 😉 )

          • Hind Abyad

            It’s the word Madrassa that’s insulting.
            So if i criticism Israel I’m Moslem, the West designated the word “madrassa” as Moslems fanatic during the War in Afghanistan, ignoring it’s “School” in Arabic.
            Every Christian child goes al Madrasseh every morning.
            PS. Einstein was not good in school.:)

            Those horrible buildings are Netanyahu’s madness, half are empty..

          • 5thDrawer

            Ahhh .. Poor Einstein … like Bill Jobs (and me), not ‘in’ with the ‘higher-Ed’ crowd.
            It’s about character … Dreamers and Womanizers never get too conflicted with ‘Theory’.

          • Hind Abyad

            Yes poor Einstein ..he was a prophet, no one talks about it, no one mentions it, he was not able to prevent his prophecy..:)) good night.

          • Patience2

            Maybe bad spelling?? Anyway, a brainwashing school.

        • 5thDrawer

          The little dictators need to realize sooner or later that ‘humans’ are beginning to see a light – and it’s not God floating down, but the human spirit wishing to be free.

  • “manic-depressive state”, that’s the current psychological definition of Netanyahu as columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the above story. But this is identical with “The Zionist ideology”, which as the eminent American Jew scholar, Dr. Alfred Lilienthal described as “dangerous to any structure of rationality, order and peace.” Zionism’s ultimate concealed goal is expansion and acquisition of territory. Zionism contains the death wish. It is the maelstrom of every destructive impulse caught in the flux of time. Zionism is the beast of prey. Zionism yields a terrifying perception of existence that the human kind does well to conceal from itself in every day life. So Netanyahu has more succumbed to the rancor of sickness and “ressentiment” which is a mark of the resentfulful and arrogant, and vain, Aritotles’ definition of the “small-souled person”. But others who are Zionists are still “dangerous to any structure of rationality, order and peace.”

  • Zionism from its inception has always beena mischievous political creed, untenble for peaceful coexistence. here what Dr. Israel Shahak, professor at the Hebrew university, once a Zionist himself had disavowed Zionism like many other early pioneers did. Dr. Shahak proclaimed:
    “I am a jew living in Israel, and consider myself a law-abiding citizen. I serve in the army every year, in spite of being nearly forty years old. But I am not ‘devoted’ to the State of Israel or to any other state or human organization! I am devoted to my ideals. I believe in speaking the truth and in doing something for securing justice and equality for all human beings. I am devoted to the Hebrew language and poetry, and I like to think that I follow in my small way some of the values of our ancient prophets.”
    It is a proven experience, which the Zionist regime knows very well, that when the danger of war is greater, the Zionist-Israeli regime has a great financial interest in not making peace. It would receive so much less easy money from Diaspora Jews.

  • Maborlz Ez-Hari

    Its not a government its an illusion. Benji is having wet dreams.

  • guest

    2015 A o M.
    2020 A o D.
    2022 A o J. E o D. E o I.

  • MekensehParty

    It’s over
    The cabinet fell, Livni and Lapid have been sacked