It would not be wrong to compare the last days of Benjamin Netanyahu’s with that of Donald Trump’s. Like Trump, Netanyahu kept calling the coalition against him a fraud. Intelligence agencies feared that Netanyahu’s supporters could lead to a Capitol Insurrection like unfortunate event.
Trump and Netanyahu also have another thing in common. Both are influential even after stepping down — Trump in the Republican Party and Netanyahu in Israeli politics. Yet, Bibi Netanyahu is not Trump.
Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid formed a coalition to oust Netanyahu from power. Bennett became prime minister, Lapid foreign minister and the balance was figured out by giving one or the other ministerial position to the eight coalition parties.
But just by seeing this coalition at the surface, one can figure out that it will be very difficult to keep Netanyahu away from power. Bennett’s government has the support of 60 lawmakers. However, in the 120-member parliament, this majority is razor thin and the alliance of Left, Right and Arab parties is very unstable.
But this is not the only reason that considering Benjamin Netanyahu’s era has ended can be a big mistake.
Supporters call Netanyahu “King Bibi” for some reason. Netanyahu was in power continuously for the last 12 years. Netanyahu is called a “genius” in forming alliances. Unfortunately, he could not repeat this charisma this year. All the parties from left to right rallied against him.
Netanyahu is out of government, but his influence does not end there. Those in the new government, such as Bennett, Gideon Saar, Ayelet Shaked, have been Netanyahu’s disciples in the past. Moreover, his party Likud is still the largest political organisation in Israel.
Apart from this, Netanyahu knows how to use social media for political gains, just like Trump. As soon as the news of Bennett and Lapid coming together broke, Netanyahu started attacking Bennett via social media. He reminded Bennett of his old promise of not siding with Lapid, accusing him of being a “fraud”. As a result, right-wing supporters began demonstrating outside the Yamina Party chief’s home.
Netanyahu is a strong opposition for Bennett. Likud got the most votes in the 2021 election. Netanyahu has his own dedicated vote bank and staunch supporters. Even being in opposition, he can create problems for Bennett. Netanyahu will not miss capitalising on even a single mistake of a government with a weak majority.
Naftali Bennett is a bigger right-wing nationalist than Netanyahu. His views are more radical and hostile towards Palestine. The fundamental difference between the two is that of experience. Bennett openly speaks of discrimination and hatred for Palestinians, but Netanyahu has the skill of not revealing these sentiments in open to the international community.
Netanyahu has changed his mind several times about the establishment of Palestine since 2009. He is also in favour of settlement in the West Bank. But Netanyahu knows the language game and he benefits from the experience.
Netanyahu had normalised relations with many of his Arab neighbours during Donald Trump’s tenure without giving any leeway to Palestine. Israel has become a regional superpower in Netanyahu’s 12-year rule. Arab countries no longer shy away from talking directly to Israel, and Palestine remains a mere formality.
Bennett will no longer be dealing with Trump but the Democrat Joe Biden. Biden plans to start talks with Iran on the nuclear deal. When Barack Obama did this, Netanyahu went straight to the White House and gave Obama a long lecture on the Middle East in front of the media. Bennett is against the nuclear deal but probably has no plan on how to stop Biden.
The alliance of eight parties is a challenge in itself. There can be contradictions within the government on every single issue. Netanyahu understands this and it makes sense why in the parliament he said: “I will return soon.”