It wasn’t domestic politics that prompted Netanyahu last night to forgo early elections; it was the need to clear out his calendar.
Why does a national leader decide to scrap new elections that he and everyone else knows he’s going to win by a landslide, which is what Bibi did last night? Because he’s got important work to do and he wants what’s called “industrial peace” – or, as Netanyahu himself put it, “stability.” Our national leader wants to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities and he’s waiting for the right opportunity to do so – when the Obama administration is hard put to stop him, meaning sometime between now and the November 2 U.S. presidential elections. Starting such a war is going to require every gram of attention and effort Bibi can call forth, and he doesn’t want the pressure of elections and forming a new government as (huge) distractions, which he would have had from now into October if he’d gone ahead with elections in September. Now, without those elections and with an absolutely unshakable coalition, he can give his full concentration to saving Israel from annihilation, as he sees it.
The argument that he made the deal with Kadima for domestic political reasons doesn’t wash. Domestic political reasons – mainly the growing public pressure to draft the haredim (ultra-Orthodox), who were vital to his coalition government – made perfect sense for why he would go to early elections, as he seemed certain to do until very late last night. With elections ahead and thus no need to worry about preserving his coalition, he could campaign all summer on drafting the haredim, then, after the elections, water the plan down to nothing, thereby keeping his haredi allies content.
So if Bibi had just wanted to solve his domestic political problems, he would have gone ahead and called early elections. But then he would have been preoccupied with them for the next six months. By deciding against early elections, he’s keeping his calendar free. This is going to be a very, very busy time for him. He’s got a big project to finish, one he’s been talking about over and over and over for more than a decade. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way.
And if Netanyahu had done the expected thing and called new elections, that, too, would have been because he thought it would give him a freer hand to bomb Iran. He’s not worried about political survival – one way or another, with elections or without, he’s king of the hill and nobody can knock him off. No, he has a mission of national survival to accomplish sometime in the coming months, before it’s too late, and all his calculations are guided by his sacred duty to fulfill that mission. Everything else is commentary.