The Man Who Saved Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated amazing survival skills. Three indictments, three election campaigns, no coalition and no budget, yet he is still at the country’s helm and isn’t going anywhere. There’s no doubt that the premier is a talented, experienced politician, but even the strongest, most sophisticated, most cunning leader needs someone to save him when he’s in distress – even Netanyahu, the “king,” the “magician.”

Fortunately for Netanyahu, he has someone like that at the heart of the political arena. His name is Avigdor Lieberman. That’s right, the same guy seen as his bitter rival, who dismantled his rightist-Haredi coalition more than a year ago and who prevented him from setting up a new government, is the one who is keeping the prime minister in his chair.

Lieberman could have replaced the tenants in the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street by supporting a coalition headed by Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz. But he refused, Gantz returned his mandate to form a government on November 20, and the chance for regime change disappeared.

Lieberman has been fascinating journalists for many years. They describe him as a “strongman” with nerves of steel, a wily politician who reads Netanyahu like an MRI machine and knows how to pressure him where it hurts. What hasn’t been said about him? That he’s unpredictable, that only he knows what he’s aiming for, that he has some incredible political intelligence between his ears. His enemies in the media also use superlatives, only in the negative. They portray him as an exceedingly corrupt man who managed to evade trial and who serves unknown alien interests.