How Netanyahu defeated his political enemies and Machiavellied them: A timeline

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Netanyahu is going to run yet another government in Israel, as his foes look even weaker than in the past. What primarily remains in opposition is a much smaller Yesh Atid party and Naftali Bennett’s small right wing party, along with remnants of the left and Arab parties. Lapid and Bennett were once useful for Netanyahu, now they are discarded so he can use the new centrist Blue and White led by Benny Gantz for his purposes. He has cued in and then crushed many parties along the way, playing the centrists like a fiddle and dividing the right and left, isolating the far-left and Arab parties. He only has around 30 seats in the Knesset, but it is always enough.

Let’s understand how Netanyahu absorbed Israel’s center, destroyed its left leaning Labor party and divided and marginalized the far-right…to make himself undefeated and indispensable to so many parties, playing them like an orchestra and sidelining them so he can stay in power…turning Israel’s politics into a circus where he is the leader…

Netanyahu’s second government

Netanyahu first came to power briefly in the 1990s as the face of opposition to the Oslo peace accords. He next emerged in opposition to the Gaza withdrawal in 2005. “I am not prepared to be a partner to a move which ignores reality, and proceeds blindly toward turning the Gaza Strip into a base for Islamic terrorism which will threaten the state,” he wrote. He led a Likud of bittereinders to a dismal 12 seats in March 2006, but circumstances brought him back to the front as Kadima stumbled under Olmert during Amona clashes, Operation Summer Rains in 2006, the 2006 war in Lebanon and 2009 war in Gaza.

Feb. 2009 elections: Netanyahu’s Likud comes in second with 27 seats but he forms a government as Kadima’s Livni fails.

June 2009: The Bar Ilan speech given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at BarIlan University on 14 June 2009. He appears to support a two-state solution.

January 2011, Labor Party leader Barak formed a breakaway party, Independence, which enabled him to maintain his loyal Labor’s MK faction within Netanyahu’s government.

May 2012: Israel’s prime minister calls off plans for early elections after forming unity government with centrist Kadima party now under Mofaz.

September 2012; Netanyahu said to gamble on Romney victory.

Oct. 2012: Netanyahu and Liberman’s Beitnu merge

November 2012: the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Pillar of Defense

Elections 2013: January 2013: Likud-Beitnu gets 31 seats in elections.

March 2013: A coalition of Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu, Yesh Atid (which came in second in the elections), the Jewish Home and Hatnua (Livni).

July 2014: Operation Protective Edge, war in Gaza

November 2014: Knesset advances the “Adelson-aimed bill curbing free newspapers advances in Knesset.” This would weaken the pro-Netanyahu Israel HaYom. Obsessed with the media, Netanyahu moves towards elections, later he will face legal troubles due to secret positive coverage media discussions and trade offs.

March 2015 speech to Congress about Iran deal: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a deal the U.S. and its allies are pursuing with Iran over its nuclear program is “very bad.”

March 2015 elections: Likud gets 30 seats, Zionist union falls short. Kahlon’s Kulanu emerges as new party, and Joint List runs for first time combining left/Arab parties.

September 2015: Netanyahu’s lightning visit to Moscow after Russia intervenes in Syrian war.

May 2016 Bogie Yaalon quits as defense minister citing Netanyahu’s conduct, he will later call for Netanyahu to resign and say the government is full of extremists.

June and November 2017: Netanyahu warns Assad against letting Iran set up bases in Syria.

December 2017: US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel capital, will move embassy.

January 2018 Netanyahu visits India.

March 2018 Great Return Marches being in Gaza.

May 2018 US leaves Iran deal and opens embassy in Jerusalem

September 2018: The Israeli military on Tuesday acknowledged that it has conducted airstrikes against over 200 Iranian targets in Syria since 2017. Netanyahu meets Egypt’s Sisi at UN.

October 2018: Netanyahu travels to Oman amid thaw with Gulf.

November 2018: Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman announced that he would be resigning as defense minister; Bennett and Shaked threaten to leave but don’t.

December 2018: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, holds five ministerial portfolios: prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister, health, immigration and absorption.

December 2018: Israel launches Northern Shield operation to stop Gaza tunnels.

January 2019: Former IDF Chief of Staff says Israel has struck over 1,000 times in Syria. Netanyahu visits Chad in breakthrough.

January 2019: Zionist Union head Gabbay pushes Livni out, she quits politics in February. Once poised to lead Israel, she is sidelined.

March 2019: US recognizes Golan.

April 2019 elections: Likud gets 35 seats and ties with Blue and White’s Gantz; failure to form government after enticements to Liberman lead to new elections called for 17 September 2019.

May 2019: The Likud secretariat on Tuesday approved a merger deal between the party and Moshe Kahlon’s center-right Kulanu; later Likud agreed to a deal with Zehut, whereby the latter party would drop out of the election.

September 2019 elections: Likud comes in second with 32 seats.

November 2019: US reverses stance on Israeli settlements.

November and December 2019: Netanyahu slams courts “coup” against him.

January 2020: Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday filed the indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for charges of bribery, fraud in three cases.

January 2020: Trump unveils ‘Deal of Century’ in US with Netanyahu after meeting with Gantz.

February 2020: Netanyahu meets Sudan leader in Uganda in diplomatic breakthrough.

March 2020 elections: Likud gets 36 seats, Gantz tapped to form next government by President Rivlin.

March and April 2020: Netanyahu slams Israeli “deep state” claiming country is not a democracy as court cases advance against him. His trial is postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Apr 20, 2020: Netanyahu, Gantz agree unity government, Blue and White party splits up and Lapid’s Yesh Atid goes its separate way into opposition.

April 25: Labor Party leader Peretz secretly signs coalition agreement

April 28: Lapid offers to back Netanyahu to cancel deal with Gantz.

May 10: Israel’s Yamina party, led by interim Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, announced it would join the opposition, angry at Netanyahu for not giving it portfolios and right wing pledges. Netanyahu backed by 72 Knesset members of 120.

Postscript

Netanyahu has broken and destroyed all of those who tried over the years to get power, and he has absorbed others; from Kahlon to Bennett, Lapid, Gantz, Livni, Peretz, Barak, Liberman…each served their purpose and then went outside government. Together they could all have unseated Netanyahu but they dislike each other more than they want to oppose him.

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