Celebrating a win before actually having won paves the way towards disaster, and it seems that Iran is heading towards a disaster. Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was recently pushed out of power. The new government is a weak coalition and hardly as well ill-equipped as Netanyahu when it comes to harming Iran. So, Iran has immediately declared, “Iran’s enemies are gone and powerful Iran is still here.”
Yes, Netanyahu is Iran’s enemy and it is also true that the new Israeli government led by Naftali Bennett won’t be too big a threat for Iran. But here is the real thing- Netanyahu will come back bigger, better and stronger. He will find his way to power, especially on account of the sheer instability of the political coalition that has replaced him. Iran, on its part, is making a huge mistake by celebrating way too early.
As per Reuters, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, “Iran’s enemies are gone and powerful Iran is still here. I don’t think Israel’s policies will change with the new government.” What the Iranian spokesman said is directly linked to Netanyahu’s ouster.
To put things in perspective, Netanyahu is actually a direct enemy of Iran. He is the wall standing between Iran and Israel. For 12 long years, Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave Iran a very tough time. In fact, he is leaving behind an anti-Iran legacy for Israel, which future regimes will have to follow.
Even Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said that his Iran policy matches the one pursued by Netanyahu’s. Iran too is evidently aware that the new regime will continue Netanyahu’s broad Iran policy. Yet, the Shi’ite nation is glad that Netanyahu is no longer in power.
Even if the new government follows Netanyahu’s Iran policy, it would be hardly as aggressive as the one pursued by Netanyahu himself. Tehran too expects that Israel will no longer be as aggressive after Netanyahu’s ouster.
Iran understands that the new dispensation is a fragile government led by a nationalist, right-wing party but supported by the Arabs and the Left. The Bennett government will have a tough time representing itself abroad. Naftali Bennett will, in fact, find it hard to pressurise US President Joe Biden on the contentious issue of the Iran nuclear deal.
Speaking about Bennett’s lack of ability to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said, “He doesn’t have the global standing. He doesn’t have the credibility. He doesn’t have the ability and he doesn’t have the support of his own divided government.”
Truth be told, Bennett will be hardly able to influence Biden as deeply as Netanyahu did. During the Gaza war, for instance, Netanyahu got Biden to stand firmly with Israel, apart from pushing a defence deal with the Jewish nation. Biden acknowledged Israel’s problems and understood its perspective. In fact, the US President even went against pro-Palestine, radical progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US Congress.
Securing Biden’s support during the Gaza war was no mean achievement for Netanyahu. The former Israeli Prime Minister managed to manipulate Biden by being aggressive and assertive. Netanyahu was a bold PM who actually got Iran on its knees. He was very clear in his approach with the Biden administration – choose between Israel and Iran. Biden, of course, had to choose the former despite his enthusiasm for reviving the Obama-era JCPOA.
If the Iran nuclear deal remained blocked for the longest time, it was entirely because of Netanyahu’s stiff opposition. Now, the deal might happen within the next one month with a weak coalition government in Israel. Iran, on its part, will start pushing and blackmailing the US to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Also, the US is quite likely to succumb to Tehran’s pressure, whereas Bennett lacks the ability to persuade Biden against the Iran nuclear deal.
However, at the same time, it is stupid of Iran to think that it can be relieved now or that it is going to reap long-term benefits. Netanyahu will come back sooner than later. In fact, the former Israeli PM has already declared, “If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way. With God’s help, it will happen a lot earlier than you think it will.”
And Iran is foolish enough to forget that in the Knesset, Netanyahu lost the vote of confidence, by 60 votes to 59 – a margin of just one vote. So, this is the kind of fragmented coalition government, Israel’s former PM is up against. He stands tall without a rainbow coalition consisting of the Israeli Left or the Arabs. Netanyahu stood strongly with one holistic ideology and still lost the vote of confidence only by a very slim margin.
Bennett, on the other hand, is barely a fraction of what he promises to be because he comes with a lot of baggage. Left and the Arabs are not going to let him run the kind of right-wing, nationalist government he promised.
The Bennett government is thus a divided administration. Its constituents have only one common agenda – remove Netanyahu. But now that Netanyahu’s gone, they won’t be able to agree on anything. They will fail to agree on something as elementary as fighting Hamas. If Hamas fires a rocket at Israel, Bennett would want to hit back but Arabs wouldn’t prefer a disproportionate reply. So, you can imagine all the confusion, chaos and disagreement in the new Israeli government. Ultimately, the incumbent coalition government will have to fail, due to all the centrifugal forces at play.
There are many faultlines that Netanyahu can exploit in the incumbent government. He remains the tallest Israeli leader, despite losing the vote of confidence and he won’t let Iran breathe easy for too long.