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Despite failure to block new budget, Netanyahu not ready to retire

After the failure to block the new budget, opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu embarks on a campaign to preserve his political alliance and his status as head of the Likud.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits in the Knesset before parliament votes to approve the new government, Jerusalem, June 13, 2021.

“The [former Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu era in Israeli politics is over,” Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin announced confidently in a series of interviews on the evening of Nov. 4. By then, it was clear that the Knesset would pass the 2021-22 budget. He said this after a three-day marathon of debates in the Knesset leading up to the final vote. It was the biggest test yet to face the narrow and very polarized coalition. If its 61 members would have failed to run the budget through this harrowing gauntlet, the government would fall.

That is why the opposition made every effort over the last few days to sway one or two members of the coalition to defect. It was an effort led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself. He made all sorts of promises and applied all sorts of pressure to anyone he marked as a potential defector. It was futile. In the end, he discovered that this bizarre coalition made up of the Islamist Ra’am party and parties on the right (amid other partners) was more than ready to come together as one for this decisive moment.

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