As Blue and White suspends negotiations with the Likud for the formation of unity government, the only game in town is Netanyahu’s hearing; a confirmed felony indictment will likely mean a third election in a row in early 2020
The week between the end of the Jewish New Year holiday and the Day of Atonement is known in Hebrew as the Awful or Awesome (as in the original sense of the word) Days. These are days of intense prayers for forgiveness, days filled with internal retrospection and soul-searching culminating at the end of the Yom Kippur fast when the Heavenly Gates are shut and our fate is sealed by Him, some to life, others to death. During this period, we wish each other a good sealing of our celestial balance sheets for the year that has just ended. It is a big deal for us Jews.
As it happens, today also marks the start of Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing, a four-day ordeal during which his fate will be sealed not by the Almighty, but by Attorney General Mandelblit. In a very real sense, this hearing will seal Mr. Netanyahu’s political fate, just as the concurrent celestial one will seal the fate of his immortal soul. Anything less than a full felony indictment would be a vindication for Netanyahu and will be perceived as such by most Israelis. In such an eventuality, Blue and White’s breaking off of the unity government negotiations just last night would seem petty and self-serving and Netanyahu will see his way clear to either form a full unity government under his leadership or convince a few defectors from the hastily cobbled together Blue and White to join him in a limited version thereof.
Should, however, a full felony indictment be forthcoming, the best Netanyahu and his religious-right bloc of 55 Knesset seats be able to do is block the formation of a left-wing coalition and force the Knesset to dissolve itself yet again forcing a new election to take place after Netanyahu’s actual trial. We will likely not have to wait the full four days of the hearing before knowing where the wind is blowing. Should things appear to be going poorly for Mr. Netanyahu, he will undoubtedly return his government-forming mandate to President Rivlin, blaming Blue and White’s intransigence for the failure to form a government. This will make the impending new election that nobody wants Mr. Gantz’s (Blue and White leader) personal failure, dealing a blow to his as yet untested political reputation. One way of another, the fate of the new Knesset will be known before Israel shuts down for the Yom Kippur fast on the evening of October 8th. Until then fasten your seatbelts, it will be a bumpy ride!