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Israel’s ruling Likud party fears that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains at its head, voters will force it out of government for a long time. “If the Likud loses the election, it will not return to power for another twenty years,” The Times of Israel website quoted David Amsalem, a junior minister from the Department of Justice.
“Amsalem is right,” an unnamed Likud deputy confirmed to the same media, who even extended the time period after which the party does not have to come to power to 40 years. At the same time, he said that other people in Likud share the same feeling.
People don’t trust the government, they do trust the soldiers
And it’s no wonder – after the Hamas attack on October 7, trust in the government dropped sharply. In an Israel Democracy Institute poll released at the end of October, only 20.5 percent of Israeli Jews said they trusted the government, compared to just 7.5 percent of Israeli Arabs. Israelis’ confidence in the military, on the other hand, increased slightly, despite the failure of the security forces during the attack.
That is why the opposition to the prime minister, who is accused of corruption and fraud, but also bears political responsibility for the failure of the security forces in the worst terrorist attack in the history of the country, is starting to grow in the government party.
Several MPs are reportedly already working on a plan to save Likud. Using the so-called constructive no-confidence motion in parliament, it is possible to topple the prime minister without necessarily bringing down the government. But for this, it is necessary to obtain a majority in the Knesset – i.e. 61 deputies – and at least ten legislators from the Likud itself.
In what condition is Hamas after two months of war?
Jakub Záhora from FSV UK and Dana El-Kurd from the University of Richmond comment on the state of Hamas after two months of fighting:
Possible successors to Netanyahu are already emerging in the party. Recently, the most speculation is about Danny Danon, the former Israeli ambassador to the UN. He has long been profiled as a party opponent of Bibi, as the prime minister is nicknamed, and after the Hamas attack on October 7, he was one of the few party members who directly criticized the government.
At Sunday’s meeting of the Likud parliamentary faction, he leaned on Netanyahu again and accused him of excessive hesitation in the fight against terrorists. He even said in this context that if one of Netanyahu’s predecessors, Naftali Bennett, had been prime minister, the government would have been more decisive.
Danon has already spoken out against Netanyahu once in the fight for Likud leadership, but in 2014, 30 percent of the vote was not enough for him to take control of the party. Now he intends to repeat the battle for the head of the party. After all, he has unsettled accounts with Netanyahu – the current prime minister kicked him out of the cabinet in 2014 because of his criticism of the then military operation in the Gaza Strip Protective Edge.
Danon does not hide his ambitions to lead the party: “When the time comes and Netanyahu is not the Likud candidate, I see myself as one of the potential candidates to lead the party,” the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying two years ago.
At that time, however, Netanyahu had not yet gone to court as a defendant, and his government, which had promised Israelis protection and security in the campaign, did not consider the shocking attack by Hamas.
Israel’s most hated man
Economy Minister Nir Barkat, who has also criticized Netanyahu and threatened to not raise his hand in the budget vote, is also interested in leading Likud if he does not receive more money to support companies. But according to The Times of Israel, Barkat does not have such a strong position within the party to defeat Netanyahu.
About the situation in Gaza
Over the weekend, Israel also launched an invasion of the southern part of the Gaza Strip, which it had so far only shelled. He thus drove hundreds of thousands more people from their homes.
It won’t be easy for Danon either, who has to find the aforementioned ten Likud MPs. And this despite the fact that Netanyahu is now having a hard time with the public. As noted Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport writes, Netanyahu is now probably “the most hated man in Israel.”
It is generally believed that once the war is over, elections will be held and voters will have a showdown with the Prime Minister, against whom hundreds of thousands of people regularly protest. But Netanyahu is an experienced politician who wants to stay in power at all costs – to avoid going to jail. That is why, according to Rapoport, he will try to prolong the war with Hamas.
“After the October 7 massacres, Netanyahu cannot return to the policy of strengthening Hamas to weaken the Palestinian national movement. Neither the Israeli public nor the United States will accept it; for them, Hamas is an enemy that must be crushed, and there is no way to avoid it,” the commentator writes.
The longest-serving prime minister was not helped by the overwhelming offensive that Israel is now ravaging the Gaza Strip. But if the remaining hostages are already in the south of the Gaza Strip, as the journalist believes, it will be practically impossible to free them without an agreement or without the expulsion of two million Palestinian civilians. And without the release of the hostages, the war will continue.