Friday, September 01, 2006
Benjamin Netanyahu made a strategic decision this week: He wants to be prime minister. On the face of it, there is nothing new to that. Nevertheless, Netanyahu's decision has one meaning: He will not join Olmert, even if the Labor Party withdraws and he is offered a respectable position, as well as respect, to enter the coalition. I, he says, in private conversation, am going to replace Olmert - not save him.
Nor will he join even if Olmert leaves and his place as prime minister is taken by another Kadima minister: Sheetrit, Dichter, Livni or Mofaz, each of whom considers him or herself a candidate, and who intends to contend for the Olmert legacy. Netanyahu rates his chances of becoming prime minister in this Knesset as being good. The scenario that is making the rounds of his inner circle goes something like this: In the course of debates over the 2007 budget, it becomes obvious that the coalition is not equal to the task. The clock starts to count down to early elections, and then a third (the minimum required by law for withdrawal - Y.V.) or more members of the Kadima faction, who do not owe anything to Olmert, or to Kadima, withdraw from the party and join the Likud faction. Only such a move, which is not without logic, would get Netanyahu back into the Prime Minister's office.